LJ Today Page 3
Rabbis swap pulpits for Liberal Judaism Shabbat
Liberal Judaism Shabbat was celebrated with a Tu Bishvat study breakfast in Suffolk, cake in Ealing and a Kabbalat Torah weekend in Finchley
LIBERAL communities across the UK celebrated Liberal Judaism Shabbat as rabbis swapped pulpits for the weekend to honour the yahrzeit of Lily Montagu, one of our movement’s founders. Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, led services at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS), where he celebrated the life of Lily Montagu by giving a sermon on the long-standing principles of Liberal Judaism. Ealing Liberal Synagogue welcomed Liberal Judaism’s president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein for an engaging Torah breakfast and service, alongside their own rabbi, Janet Burden. After a lively discussion about the historical authenticity of the Exodus story, Andrew sang the Song of the Sea to the tune of Bendigamos in traditional fashion from the Torah scroll. At the end of the service, Ealing member Emily Eastmond shared a special cookie-cake in honour of the festival of Tu Bishvat. Tu Bishvat was also celebrated at Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community (SLJC), where Rabbi David Hulbert continued his ‘Rambling Rabbi’ sabbatical that sees him visiting a number of congregations around the country. David led a breakfast study session around the meaning of the festival. This was followed by a Tu Bishvat seder that involved eating the different types of fruit to represent the different types of people: s/he who cares only for others (and not themselves); s/he who only cares for him/ herself (and not for others); s/he who does not care for others or themselves; and the balanced person who cares for others and also him/herself. SLJC chair Beverley Levy said: “We are a very small community and really appreciated the visit by Rabbi David Hulbert, which transformed a normal Shabbat into something truly special.”
Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and Bristol & West Progressive Congregation swapped ministers, with Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi going to Bristol and Rabbi Monique Mayer heading in the opposite direction. Margaret said: “I very much enjoyed the enthusiastic singing at Bristol, where I talked about Lily Montagu and heard memories from a member who remembered her. I led a Tu Bishvat seder afterwards, with plenty of fruit, and the children joined in with lots of questions. “Monique was very well received in Birmingham where she introduced people to Musar, a Jewish spiritual practice that focuses on how to live a meaningful life.” Other Liberal communities taking part in Liberal Judaism Shabbat included East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue (Rabbi Janet Burden), York Liberal Jewish Community (Rabbi Lea Mühlstein), Southgate Progressive Synagogue and Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community (Rabbi Aaron Goldstein), The Liberal Synagogue Elstree (Rabbi Yuval Keren), Beit Klal Yisrael (Rabbi Elana Dellal), Crouch End Chavurah (Rabbi Nathan Godleman) and South London Liberal Synagogue (Rabbi Sandra Kviat). There was also a special Kabbalat Torah weekend that saw 43 teenagers from seven different Liberal communities come together at Finchley Progressive Synagogue. Run by a coalition of rabbis, cheder heads and LJY-Netzer movement workers, the Kabbalat Torah weekend is an annual tradition during which various classes from Liberal Judaism congregations come together to further their learning and explore their identity. This year’s included an exploration of London’s Liberal Jewish history, artistic and charitable projects and a full-blown Shrek-themed movie night/extravaganza.
Movement worker Ben Combe said: “Whether it was cooking dinner for a local homeless shelter, learning about the life of Lily Montagu from Rabbi Jackie Tabick – who was the first female rabbi ordained in the UK – or studying the principles of Torah, avodah and gemilut chasadim (study, work and acts of loving kindness), everyone had an incredible time. “The centrepiece of the weekend was unquestionably the exploration of London’s West End, where teams of young people followed the life of Lily Montagu, saw the original site of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue and found clues to the history of Liberal Judaism. “With contingents of young people representing everywhere from Brighton to London to Nottingham, the future leaders of the Liberal Jewish community were inspired, engaged and enthralled by this fantastic weekend.”
The ramble continues… RABBI DAVID HULBERT may be taking a sabbatical from East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, but he is still busy leading services. David has been visiting and supporting smaller Progressive communities around the UK, earning him the nickname ‘Rambling Rabbi’. David has already led services in Peterborough, Bedford, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Herefordshire. He can next be found at Cambridge Reform Jewish Community on Saturday May 4 and Tikvah Chadasha in Brentwood on Saturday May 11.