LJ Today Mar/Apr 2024

Page 1

Liberal Judaism is a constituent of the World Union for Progressive Judaism


Path to Progressive Judaism continues

LIBERAL Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism have taken a number of steps in 2024 as we move towards unifying as one Progressive Judaism for the UK.

In January, a brand new website launched to provide information on why the coming together of our two movements is happening, who is involved in the process and how members can share their ideas and questions.

The site – which can be found at www.pathtoprogressivejudaism.org.uk – also has functionality so that anyone interested can find their local Liberal or Reform community, via either a map or a list, and get in touch.

Movement CEOs Rabbis Josh Levy and Charley Baginsky, who are leading the process, also continued their Community Forums up and down the country.

In a whirlwind tour of the North and Scotland, they spoke to congregations in Manchester, York, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow. They also visited Brighton and Kingston, and addressed Mosaic Jewish Community.

Details of past and planned Community Forums can be found on the new website. They seek to provide the chance for members of all 80+ of our Progressive congregations to meet with Rabbis Charley and Josh, find out more about their plans for the future and share questions, ideas and feedback.

Speaking about what lies ahead, Liberal Judaism Acting Chair Karen Newman said: “We truly believe that this is the moment for Progressive Judaism to thrive and flourish – providing a space that combines the best of Jewish tradition with modern values, lifestyles and families. Together, we can offer a spiritually uplifting and intellectually coherent Judaism for the 21st century lives that we live today.”

Movement for Reform Judaism Chair Paul Langsford added: “As a unified movement, we will be stronger, our voice will be louder and we will be able to make an even bigger contribution to society.

“As one Progressive Judaism, we will help more people in more places enjoy rich and vibrant Jewish experiences.”

We want your feedback

IN AUGUST 2023, Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism took a major step on the Path to Progressive Judaism by uniting our communications teams – allowing us to have a stronger voice and greater reach.

One of our first goals was to boost both the breadth and depth of content on the Liberal and Reform Judaism websites and in our weekly email newsletters.

We were delighted to hear in the Progressive Judaism Community Forums how well-received this has been.

Our next step is to look at combining the two weekly emails into one combined Progressive update sent separately to the Reform and Liberal databases (for GDPR purposes) but containing the same content and formatting.

We are also looking to turn lj today into one publication covering both Liberal and Reform communities.

As well as getting the most out of our time and resources, we believe that all the wonderful things our Progressive movements, communities and individuals achieve is equally relevant and interesting no matter whether you are a member of a Liberal or a Reform congregation.

However we know this a big step and that individual movement communications are important to many members, which is why we are undertaking a consultation process.

Please email your feedback to SimonR@progressivejudaism.org.uk - we are excited to hear your thoughts.

March/April 2024 VOL. LI No. 2
Rabbis Charley Baginsky and Josh Levy host the Progressive Community Forum in Manchester

Statement from Progressive Jewish clergy on Israel and Gaza

‘A time for silence and a time for speaking.’ (Kohelet 3:1, 7)


We, the undersigned, Progressive Jewish Rabbis and Cantors, embrace an expression of Judaism that values pluralism and affirms the strength of diversity within and beyond our communities. We attempt to live our lives according to prophetic teachings of justice, compassion, truth and peace. More than anything, we want to avoid the terrible destructiveness of war and its consequences. We know, as well, that there are times when competing concerns come into play – issues of security of a sovereign state that needs to maintain the safety of its citizens.

We are compelled to speak out at this time and to say that the death and suffering endured in both Israel and Gaza must come to an end.


A terrible massacre occurred in Israel on 7 October – brutal murders and abductions, unspeakable violations that transgressed universal human values, the continued captivity of hostages and displacement of thousands of families and individuals from their homes in Israel, and the relentless bombardment of enemy rockets against Israel’s population.

How can a country and its citizens recover from the trauma of a pogrom that raises spectral memories of past genocidal acts against the Jewish people?

In Gaza, tens of thousands have been killed, and even more injured. Many lie

buried under the rubble of destruction. Whole families and communities have seen their homes, schools, mosques and hospitals destroyed. More than one million exhausted, hungry and sick Palestinians, who have sought safety in Rafah, are now no longer safe there.

As the humanitarian crisis deteriorates further, the threat of a ground offensive in Rafah will have a devastating impact on vulnerable and traumatised civilians caught up in the futility of a war without end.

As Progressive Jewish clergy we have always worked towards a two-state solution, which enables both Israelis and Palestinians to enjoy sovereignty and security, and where peace and relationship building can thrive.

The war in Gaza, and the continued captivity of the hostages, threatens the possibility of such a future.

Yet, despite these bleak and dark times, we continue to apply ourselves to the hard work of listening to each other across divides, with humility and empathy. With Antisemitism and Islamophobia increasing in the West, we commit ourselves and entreat others to act with civility and to rise to the challenge of working with people of different beliefs.

We urge that all steps are taken, as soon as possible, to end the bloodshed and to bring the hostages home.

We recognise that the pathway towards a political solution will be painful. But creating a road map to something different is utterly necessary, so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace. We pray in sorrow, but also with hope that universal and humane values will prevail. Now let there be a time for peace.

Signed by...

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen

Rabbi Lisa Barrett

Rabbi Rachel Benjamin

Rabbi Rebecca Birk

Student Rabbi Daisy Bogod

Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts

Rabbi Clifford Cohen

Rabbi Dr Frank Dabba Smith

Rabbi Janet Darley

Rabbi Elana Dellal

Rabbi Colin Eimer

Rabbi Warren Elf

Rabbi Paul Freedman

Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander

Rabbi Anna Gerrard

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

Rabbi Roberta Harris-Eckstein

Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton

Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi

Rabbi Richard Jacobi

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

Rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber

Rabbi Sandra Kviat

Rabbi Judith Levitt

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman

Rabbi René Pfertzel

Rabbi Danny Rich

Rabbi Dr Judith Rosen-Berry

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan

Rabbi Dr Reuven Silverman

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick

Rabbi Daniela Thau

Rabbi Pete Tobias

Rabbi Kath Vardi

Rabbi Anna Wolfson

Cantor Tamara Wolfson

Rabbi Alexandra Wright

Rabbi Igor Zinkov

Add your message to the Lovelock Hostage Bridge

JW3 has turned its iconic bridge into a Lovelock Hostage Bridge so that everyone can add their messages of support for those still being held by Hamas in Gaza. The bridge is open from 10am-10pm every Sunday-Thursday.

JW3 CEO Raymond Simonson said: “Either bring a padlock or pick one up from JW3 Box Office, draw a heart, scribble a message or sign your name, lock it to the bridge and then share your photos and video widely on social media.”

Page 2 LJ Today March/April 2024 Israel

Bring them home now

PROGRESSIVE communities and members have embraced two schemes being run by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to draw attention to the plight of those held hostage by Hamas.

The Board is organising small weekly vigils outside Parliament – held every Tuesday and Wednesday – to demand the return of the hostages. They have been joined by people from across the community including The Ark Synagogue’s Rabbi Aaron Goldstein.

Rabbi Aaron said: “At the seat of power in the United Kingdom, it felt important to raise the photograph of Karina Ariev, a member of Kehilat Kol HaNeshama, The Ark’s twin community in Israel. At a time when we often feel powerless, this vigil offers us a way to act and do something.”

The community at The Ark have been saying prayers for Karina, who is just 19, in every service.

A number of Progressive congregations are also among the 50 organisations signed up to the Board’s ‘Adopt a Hostage’ campaign.

The scheme is intended to shine a spotlight on individual hostages – keeping their names in the public consciousness and providing support to their loved ones.

At The Liberal Synagogue Elstree (TLSE), an empty chair is left at every service and event for Abraham Munder (Abraham Gilad Ben Emunah). Members have also been writing to the 78-yearold’s family.

There was good news for Southend and District Reform Synagogue (SDRS) when Louis Har was rescued.

SDRS Warden Sue Lowey explained: “We wanted to keep people aware of the hostages still in Gaza and we adopted Louis, who was one of the two men freed by the IDF. The news of Louis’ freedom is amazing and please God we can get all the hostages home as soon as possible.”

“However, we’re not giving up. We have now adopted a second hostage. His name is Edan Alexander and we pray that his release will be next.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “It is more important than ever that people join us in ensuring that the hostages are not forgotten. We invite more communities to come forward to ‘adopt’ a hostage, to ensure that every single one of those remaining in Gaza has a congregation to champion them.”

Any community wishing to take part should email sara.radivan@bod.org.uk

Leaders support Prince’s peace call

RABBIS Charley Baginsky and Josh Levy – the Co-Leads of Progressive Judaism – have welcomed words by the Prince of Wales recognising the human suffering in Israel and Gaza, as well as his plans to learn more about what the Jewish community is currently facing in the UK.

In a statement released by Kensington Palace, the Prince said: “I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible. There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It’s critical that aid gets in and the hostages are released.

“Sometimes it is only when faced with the sheer scale of human suffering that the importance of permanent peace is brought home. I continue to cling to the hope that a brighter future can be found and I refuse to give up on that.”

Speaking to The Times, Rabbis Josh Levy and Charley Baginsky said: “Many of our members will welcome the call of Prince William. Not only for his words, which reflect values of compassion and humanity, but because he speaks them with balance and thoughtfulness, recognising the pain on all sides.”

Commenting on the Prince’s plans to meet young British Jews at a synagogue, they added: “It is important that he hears their concerns about the rise in antisemitism in schools and campuses across the country. We also very much hope that he visits further congregations, in order to hear a variety of Jewish voices and the complexity of the challenges that our community is facing.”

Their comments were echoed by Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, Convener of the Reform Beit Din. He said: “The Prince is saying what many British Jews feel: the Hamas attack was appalling and broke the existing ceasefire, but the Israeli response, however justified, has involved much suffering. We regret Palestinian deaths as much as Israeli ones. Their blood, and the cry of pain of their families, are both the same.”

The sentiment was also shared by leaders of the Orthodox community.

Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis – Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth – said: “Since his visit to the region in 2018, the Prince of Wales has shown a deep concern for the wellbeing of all those affected by the conflict in the Middle East and his words of compassion today, which I welcome, are yet further evidence of this.

“His plan to learn more about the troubling global increase in antisemitism will send a powerful message.”

LJ Today Page 3 March/April 2024 Israel
Members of The Ark, Radlett, Southend and Edgware & Hendon Progressive communities at the Board of Deputies’ vigil for those taken hostage by Hamas. Picture by amandarose.co.uk TLSE members supporting Abraham Munder

Million milestone hit by NLPS Trust

A GRANT to Norwich Liberal Jewish Community (NLJC) has taken the NLPS Trust past the £1million mark.

The Trust – which was formed out of the closure of North London Progressive Synagogue in 2004 – makes grants to communities and organisations which promote the principles and development of Liberal Judaism.

The money awarded to NLJC has helped the community create online services so that members who live far away and/or cannot attend are still able to take part.

During Covid, the community developed its services by Zoom, but now meets in a church without any internet connection. As this is a Grade 1 listed building, receivers cannot be placed on the outside walls so the community piggybacks on a neighbour’s Wi-Fi or hotspots from a phone with a good signal.

It was critical to have state of the art technology to maximise the signal. The NLPS Trust supported an application for laptops, speakers and lapel microphones to provide the very best signal for the community. This is particularly important as there are several housebound members and others with long term health conditions which make travel to services difficult.

As the Norwich community has to use a mobile kitchen facility, part of their successful application was for equipment to enable them to provide hot food after services. The social interaction over kiddush and a shared lunch is particularly valued.

One member said: “I find the quality of the Zoom services very much enhanced by the new equipment. As a member who lives in North Essex, this means that I can attend Shabbat services even when travelling to Norwich is more difficult, in winter or in the evening, and still feel fully involved.”

Another added: “Being housebound I was delighted with the much improved stream. It is a pleasure to have a roving camera and to be able to see and hear the rabbi and watch events like the opening of the Ark and reading the Torah; and also for the first time to be able to see the congregation properly as well as one’s Zoom chums.”

New lay service leaders as Ba’alei Tefillah class graduates

SEVEN Progressive Jews have graduated from the Liberal Judaism Ba’alei Tefillah service leadership course.

The programme was set up in 2010 to help train lay service leaders to support Liberal congregations of all sizes.

Those graduating so far in 2024 are Marianne Lederman (Stevenage Liberal Synagogue), Marc Schulz (The Ark Synagogue), Sophia Spiegel (Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue and Cork Jewish Community), Howard Duckworth (York Liberal Jewish Community and The Ark), Fabrizio Melis (The South London Liberal Synagogue), Daniel White (South Bucks Jewish Community) and Danny Lang (Beit Klal Yisrael).

Others on the course have opted to continue studying and will graduate once that process is complete.

Liberal services often rely on lay leaders, sometimes because the community does not have a rabbi or cantor, sometimes because they are unavailable and sometimes in order to offer a different service experience.

Liberal Judaism’s Director of Development and Membership Alexandra Gellnick explains: “Of Liberal Judaism’s three founders in 1902 – Claude Montefiore, Lily Montagu and Rabbi Dr Israel Mattuck – only one was ordained.

“In 1943, Miss Lily became one of the first small group of lay ministers appointed by the movement. A certificate was awarded to each and they could carry out many of the functions of a rabbi.

“Today, we need lay service leaders just as much as they did then, which is why, with the essential support of the NLPS Trust, we offer the Ba’alei Tefillah course.

“This is not only the continuation of a strong Liberal tradition, but also a wonderful sign of the desire to invest in the spiritual and intellectual future of Progressive Judaism.”

Since 2010, 89 members of 35 different congregations have completed the course. Over a period of at least two years – and under the leadership of rabbis, tutors and a personal mentor – Ba’alei Tefillah participants learn to lead Friday night and Saturday morning services, write and deliver sermons, deal with bimah choreography and all the many other aspects of service-leading.

New graduate Marianne Lederman said: “I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the course, and particularly the interaction with the other participants. My community was very helpful, providing me with a lot of support and with many service-leading opportunities.”

Classmate Marc Schulz added: “What I found most helpful about the course was the opportunity to meet other service leaders and learn about the challenges they face in their communities and their approaches to overcoming them.

“I always wanted to lead services not only for my own community but for others as well, and learning about the experiences of the other students helped me a lot to prepare for that.”

Page 4 LJ Today March/April 2024 News
Rabbi Anna Wolfson with some members of the newest Ba’alei Tefillah graduating class

Kingston Holocaust Memorial Day events reach hundreds

MORE than 900 schoolchildren in Kingston attended a week-long series of talks and events marking Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) at the area’s Progressive and Orthodox synagogues.

The educational workshops were organised by Kingston Liberal Synagogue (KLS) and Kingston, Surbiton and District Synagogue, with funding from the Royal Borough of Kingston Community Resilience Fund.

They marked the 18th year of an annual remembrance project run together by the two communities, with the purpose of sharing knowledge about the Holocaust.

The seven key speakers included Holocaust survivors, or adult descendants. They each gave a talk after which the students were able to ask questions. This was followed by a film about people in Nazioccupied countries, who risked their lives to hide Jews.

At the end of the workshops, the students had time to reflect, as well as write postcards to the survivors.

Barbara Richards of KLS said: “These workshops are not just a history lesson.

“Students are given time and space to consider what freedoms they value and the importance of respecting differences.

“Almost all those attending were nonJewish and, for many, this was their first experience inside a synagogue.”

HMD in Bedfordshire

and Gerald

Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue

OUR Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration began with HM LordLieutenant of Bedfordshire Susan Lousada introducing our guest speaker, Dr Martin Stern MBE.

Martin gave us a very eloquent and interesting insight into his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

Martin’s parents were Germans, who had fled to Holland before the war. His mother died in hospital shortly after giving birth to his sister, Erica. His father was hidden by courageous farmers after the German invasion of Holland, only to be captured by Nazis after a shoot-out. He died in March 1945 in Buchenwald.

Martin and Erica were looked after by two separate Dutch families, before they were arrested. They were sent to Westerbork transit camp and then onto the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Miraculously, they both survived and were freed when the camp was liberated – later coming to live with family in England, where Martin remained.

He said: “People said ‘never again’ after the Second World War, but it keeps happening again and again and again. This work is still so necessary.”

Those attending the event included three local mayors, Bedfordshire police officers and members of both Bedfordshire Progressive and Luton United Synagogues. We were joined by friends from the Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF) and Rachel Hopkins MP.

Eleven of the attendees lit a candle for all those lost in the Holocaust, and in genocides since. The glowing flames, accompanied by the melancholic strains of Albinoni’s Adagio, offered a respectful homage to those lost souls.

Prayers and words from David Young, Rev David Kesterton and LCoF Vice Chair Gulie Butcher concluded the event.

Czech Scrolls 60th anniversary

PROGRESSIVE communities from all around the world brought their Czech Scrolls to London for a celebratory service at Westminster Synagogue.

The event – marking the 60th anniversary of the arrival of 1,564 Torah and other Scrolls from Prague – was attended by 275 individuals representing congregations in the UK, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Israel, Canada and America.

The service was curated and led by Rabbi Benji Stanley and featured a memorable and moving procession of the Scrolls, held by those communities that care for them today.

Many of the Torah Scrolls were from our British Reform and Liberal communities and paraded by our Progressive clergy and lay leaders.

In 1964, Ralph Yablon, in collaboration with Rabbi Harold Reinhart, orchestrated the acquisition of the Czech Scrolls, by rescuing them from a damp former synagogue in Prague where they had endured the Nazi era and years of Communism. Many are now on loan around the world, creating an intimate link to the Jews and Jewish life so tragically destroyed in the Holocaust.

• Picture by Louise Morris Photography


Power presented alongside Pete Simms at Stockport’s Holocaust Memorial Day event.

They spoke about the Nazi persecution of the LGBTQI+ community during the Holocaust and the ongoing challenges experienced by the community today.

LJ Today Page 5 March/April 2024 News
Pupils and volunteers light candles of remembrance Rabbis Lea Mühlstein, Tanya Sakhnovich and Richard Jacobi with their community’s Scrolls Officer Owen

Communal life is blossoming

TU BISHVAT was celebrated by Progressive Jews all around the country with a series of meaningful services, Seders, plantings and events.

At Stevenage Liberal Synagogue, members joined the Mayor of Stevenage to plant a tree at a new woodland site being developed by the council (pictured).

The community’s Ann Etkind said: “We were delighted that the Mayor and two Councillors agreed to attend the planting and our short open-air service, led by the Chair of our community. It was great to see a number of our members there to celebrate the festival and contribute to the establishment of this new woodland in Stevenage.”

A Tu BiShvat Seder took place at East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, led by Rabbi Richard Jacobi.

Every generation had a chance to get involved at Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue (EHRS), where events included a Nagila Nursery tree planting, bird feeder making, learning with the shul’s Eco Synagogue committee and the first ever Burns Night Tu BiShvat Seder mash up!

Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich commented: “It was very special to see how engaged the children were with all the activities and how well they worked as a team with the more senior member of our ecoteam. We all had lots of fun!”

The Radlett Reform Synagogue Cheder visited Jewish Care’s Sandringham care campus in Stanmore, where around 65 volunteers – including staff, leaders, parents and children – planted more than 400 trees for Tu BiShvat. The trees will be enjoyed by everyone who lives at and visits the beautiful grounds.

Page 11: LJY-Netzer’s Tu BiShvat Seder

Jews around the world gather for The Ark’s 200th Zoom Havdalah

THE Ark Synagogue hosted a landmark 200th Zoom Havdalah, attended by community members and Progressive Jews from all around the world.

More than 100 people joined the service from across the UK, Europe, Israel, the United States, South Africa and India.

Prayers were led by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Rabbi Lea Mühlstein and Emeritus Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein of The Ark, alongside special guest Rabbi David Benjamin from one of The Ark’s twin congregations in Israel, Kehilat Brit Shalom, and members of its Ukrainian twin communities, the Teiva Congregation in Lviv and Lutsk Jewish Community.

The Ark’s first Zoom Havdalah took place on the first Saturday of lockdown and has continued ever since.

Rabbi Aaron explained: “This occasion is a weekly source of comfort, care and community that has sustained so many of us, not only during the pandemic but long after it ended.

“At first the timings shifted around, but to avoid confusion and make sure everyone can attend we fixed on 5pm GMT every Saturday evening – regardless of the traditional time of Shabbat going out.

“To be able to celebrate this 200th Zoom Havdalah was very special, but even more so is the large number of people finding such meaning by joining us online each and every week.”

Two regulars – or “Havdalah menches” as Rabbi Aaron calls them – are Howard Duckworth and Paul Hyams, attending even when on holiday or on a train.

They are members of both the Ark, which is located in Northwood, and their local Progressive synagogues – Howard in York and Paul in Lincolnshire.

Paul has mapped out those others taking part in Havdalah, finding attendees span more than 16,000 miles.

For Howard, whose granddaughter was born in February 2023, it is a family affair. He said: “I introduced her to the Havdalah group before she met many of her family, and she crawls into my sanctuary most Saturdays to wave. She is always made welcome just as her big brother is.

“The original plan for Havdalah was a five-minute chat, five-minute service, and further five minutes of talking – just to run until lockdown was over.

“But everyone enjoyed it so much, joining us from the four corners of the world, it became a fixture. I can’t ever remember our Havdalah lasting just 15 minutes, but it often runs for more than two hours – and one time almost five!”

Reflecting on the online community created, Howard added: “We have sung Happy Birthday in five different languages, enjoyed Havdalah on Christmas Day and held what we believe to be the world’s most spread out fancy dress party. Most importantly, we have made so many new friends who are there to support each other through both sadness and joy.”

Page 6 LJ Today March/April 2024 Communities
Paul Hyams in Lincolnshire and Howard Duckworth in York celebrate the 200th Ark Havdalah Mohan Aryeh joins from Tamil Nadu, India

Joyce’s charity quiz breaks new record

BIRMINGHAM Progressive Synagogue (BPS) member Joyce Rothschild has produced a record breaking result with her annual quiz in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

This year’s outing raised a mammoth £23,861 – its most yet – taking the running total to £275,058.

It has now taken place for 27 years, with all the money coming from entry fees and donations made by the many people who readily take up the challenge set by Joyce, her husband Mark and school friend Yasmi Roberts. They design and write 100 questions for the quiz, which has a different theme every year.

Joyce, a prominent member of BPS, said: “Every year we have improved on previous results and to do so again, in what seemed like being a difficult time for another record sum, was exceptional.

“It showed us how many people continue to enjoy taking part in the quiz. I thank all our loyal supporters, including many members of the BPS community.”

For the first three years of the quiz, Joyce gave the Queen Elizabeth Hospital all of the proceeds as a recognition for the treatment she received there that enabled her to recover from breast cancer. Since then, Macmillan Cancer Support has been the sole beneficiary.

Joyce, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for her charitable work, added: “Every year we think we will just do one more because it is a huge amount of work, but we are definitely planning one for next year.”

Megan Hayman Tansley, the Macmillan Cancer Support fund-raising manager in the West Midlands, paid warm tribute to

Elstree strengthens Krakow ties

THE Liberal Synagogue Elstree (TLSE) welcomed a special guest from Krakow, Poland, and heard about the resurgence of Jewish life in the city.

Jonathan Ornstein from The Jewish Community Centre (JCC) was a guest speaker on Shabbat, where he was presented with a donation from the community’s High Holy Days appeal.

Jonathan spoke about how the JCC – which was opened in April 2008 by Prince, now, King Charles – serves as the focal point for a blossoming of Judaism. Located in the heart of the city’s Jewish district of Kazimierz, it provides all parts of Krakow’s growing Jewish community with a welcoming space to meet, learn and share ideas.

The Elstree community heard how the JCC now has more than 750 Jewish members and also 75 volunteers from all faiths. It has also played a huge role in responding to the needs of refugees from Ukraine, as a result of the Russian invasion, helping over 220,000 people, 98 per cent of whom are not Jewish.

all those who made vital contributions to the work of the charity.

She said: “Joyce is one of our most valued supporters. Without fundraisers like her, Yasmi and the many who enter the quiz, we wouldn’t be able to reach the growing number of people who need our support and enable us to continue helping those living with cancer.”

A poetic night


Jewish communities put on special events for Burns Night – the annual celebration of the life and work of renowned Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community (ELJC) took part in a cross-communal celebration, hosted by their neighbouring Orthodox Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation.

They enjoyed a fine evening of Scottish/Jewish revelry with a supper of haggis and neeps, a piper and musical entertainment. ELJC’s Rabbi Mark Solomon (pictured above) was in fine voice declaring his love to be like a red, red rose.

Burns Night events also took place at Glasgow Reform Synagogue and Oaks Lane Reform Synagogue in Essex.

LJ Today Page 7 March/April 2024 Communities
Joyce Rothschild and Yasmi Roberts with a cheque showing how much they have raised

‘A strong, capable and loving woman’

Corinne Oppenheimer

Born: 8 March 1936

Died: 10 January 2024

CORINNE Oppenheimer, who died in January, was a true Ayshet Chayil – a strong, capable and loving woman who lived a life of service, always putting the needs of others before her own.

Corinne was the eldest of 11 children of Emily and Harry Orme. She took responsibility for her siblings as she was growing up and remained a ‘big sister’ to them all her life. Something of that responsibility remained with her, making her the remarkable person she was.

She was capable and organised and ready to take care of everything. Her talents were recognised wherever she volunteered so that she might start by washing dishes – as she did at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue (BPS) – but would end up as President, not because she sought honour but because her good sense and reliability were so valued.

Corinne left school at the age of 15 and went to work at the Lucas car factory before training to be a nurse. She had a busy social life, enjoying rock and roll clubs with her siblings, and in the course of it she met her husband Paul.

Their first child, Nick, was born a year after they married, with Simon and Judith following. Corinne managed to combine being there for the children with working as a nurse and volunteering.

The children recall that if she wasn’t at home, she was at a meeting. When Nick and Simon were five or six, Paul would drop them at the hospital on his way to work at 7:30 in the morning and she would pick them up when her shift finished at 8:30am. Often, she would take Simon swimming straight from her shift.

Corinne worked as a nurse in various hospitals. However, this was not enough for her. Having left school at 15, she decided to continue her education and studied for an Open University degree at the same time as she was working and bringing up the family.

When the children joined the BPS Cheder, Corinne started gradually taking on more responsibility at the community.

She joined the Synagogue Council in 1977, then came on to the Executive as Secretary. She was Chair, in 1994, at the time I was appointed as Rabbi. I couldn’t have had a more supportive and encouraging Chair as I began my rabbinic career. Corinne went on to become President, but far from keeping only to her presidential role, she would step in with whatever needed doing, helping with catering or packing bulletins.

Corinne’s contribution to BPS and the Liberal movement was recognised when she was made a Vice President of Liberal Judaism. She moved to Finchley when Judith’s children were small and left an enormous hole at BPS. She immediately threw herself into volunteering at Finchley Progressive Synagogue, and again became invaluable.

In addition, Corinne held a multitude of other voluntary roles. She helped to set up Shelter in Birmingham, joined the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service and was a Justice of the Peace.

When Paul began to speak about his experiences in the Holocaust – both his parents were murdered by the Nazis –they became involved with the National Holocaust Centre. Corinne continued to support the Centre after Paul’s death. She also joined the Steven Spielberg Shoah Foundation, collecting survivor testimonies across the UK.

When Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she chaired the Parkinson’s Society Solihull branch.

Yet, even with all these activities, she always had time for people. In any trip to Solihull she would stop numerous times in Mell Square to greet people she knew.

She loved spending time with her grandchildren and she immediately adopted Anastasia, a refugee from Ukraine who was staying with Judith, as a new grandchild. Corinne moved into Judith’s home a year ago when she could no longer manage alone and was cared for by her. The children returned all the love and devotion she had shown them, to make her last months as comfortable as they could be.

Corinne touched so many lives with all the good she did and she will be remembered by everyone whose life she touched.

She is survived by her children, Nick, Simon and Judith, her grandchildren, Alex and Beth, Joshua and Lara and Yoni, Riki, Eyal and Avital and her siblings Sandra, Peter, Maretta, Sonia and Liz.

Page 8 LJ Today March/April 2024 In Memory

‘A travelogue that will have you hooked’

Judith’s Diaries: Four Early Travel Diaries of Judith Montefiore 1816 – 1828, transcribed and annotated By Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein (ISBN: 9781399961806)

JUDITH was the fourth daughter of Levy Barents Cohen. She was born in 1784, the same year as her husband-to-be Moses Montefiore whom she married, aged 28, in 1812.

Judith was a highly cultured and very bright lady. A gifted musician, linguist and writer, she published the first Jewish Cook book in 1846. Here we see her as travel writer and tourist with her husband and companions.

Her diaries record day-by-day accounts of four visits to the Continent: a threemonth trip as far as Lausanne in 1816 (60 pp); a four month visit to Rome and Naples in 1816-17 (93 pp); a three-month trip back to Rome in 1823 (37 pp), but by a different route through Belgium and Germany; a seven-week tour of Ireland in 1825 (24 pp) and finally a three week holiday to Harrogate, Yorkshire in 1828 (14 pp).

Her travelogue draws you in. You pick it up and give it a glance. You flick through and happen upon an entry. You quickly realise that Judith has eyes for everyone and everything. Very little escapes her.

LJS book launch

A NEW book on Claude Montefiore, one of the three founders of Liberal Judaism, was launched with a special event at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS).

The book -

Claude Montefiore: Jewish Scholar, Communal Leader, Philanthropist - was written by Bryan Diamond, the former Honorary Archivist for both Liberal Judaism and the LJS.

The event began with opening words from Rabbi Alexandra Wright, followed by speeches by Bryan Diamond, Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein and Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton. Rabbi Michael said: “In this book, which is rich in detail, Bryan explains, crisply and clearly Claude Montefiore’s life and achievements.”

• Claude Montefiore: Jewish Scholar, Communal Leader, Philanthropist costs £6.99 (electronic) or £9.99 (paper back) from www.bryandiamond.co.uk

You also realise that her references are unfamiliar. They would be. They are more than 200 years old. But not to worry: everything you want to know is immediately explained in succinct footnotes by the book’s redactor, Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein.

You look at her next day’s entry, Andrew’s notes, and then her next entry. In no time at all, you’re hooked. You then want to go back and start at the very beginning of each journey.

Without Andrew’s annotations, Judith’s Travel Diaries would merit but passing attention. With Andrew’s painstaking research, they are transformed into a fascinating and important historical document. Andrew’s research and scholarship allow us to add ‘social historian’ to his rabbinical accomplishments.

Two further resources would enhance the book’s usefulness: maps and an index. I had my huge Times Atlas all over the table following Judith’s journeys. An index would facilitate precise and immediate consultation if the need arose.

Judith emerges from the book as a truly delightful lady full of joie de vivre. She’s an intrepid traveller and she’s tough into the bargain. She’s out in all weathers. Moses Montefiore, ‘Mun’ as she affectionately calls him, is never far behind. She frequently gets soaked to the skin, dismissing it as incidental. She‘s out to see every sight there is... and she does!

This has kept Andrew very busy indeed, explaining and updating it all. My arithmetic makes for 699 notes in all – a formidable commentary.

If Andrew can but remember a fraction of the knowledge he’s given us in his notes, he would certainly win one or another of the major media quiz shows and perhaps become a millionaire. Millionaire or not, we are all certainly greatly enriched by his great enterprise in producing this important work.

• Review by Geoffrey Ben-Nathan, Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue

• Judith’s Diaries costs £15; email agoldstein@tovmod.co.uk to obtain a copy

Progressive rabbis profiled as pioneers

RABBI Dame Julia Neuberger has written the foreword to a new book looking at the astonishing contributions made by British-born Jewish women as campaigners for social justice and in the professions of science, medicine, politics, law, religion, media and journalism.

Intrepid Pioneers: Jewish Women in the Public Arena by Isabelle Seddon looks at the remarkable achievements made by those who often had to battle both antisemitism and gender prejudice.

Two Progressive Jewish rabbis are profiled - Rabbi Julia and Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah - as is Liberal Judaism founder Lily Montagu. Other women featured include BBC presenters Dame Esther Rantzen and Emily Maitlis, politicians Edwina Currie, Luciana Berger and Margaret Hodge, doctor Miriam Stoppard and scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose role in the discovery of DNA was overshadowed for many years.

In her introduction, Rabbi Julia (pictured) writes: “These are women who were successful against the odds – hence being described as intrepid pioneers. Whether discussing the Jewish Labour women MPs who were so targeted by antisemites, or the women rabbis who had to fight to be recognised as equals to the men in many congregations, or the women in the media who needed to be especially committed and resolute, most of these women had tough journeys. This book tells their stories and allows the reader to celebrate success and share in admiration, and sometimes wonder.”

• Intrepid Pioneers: Jewish Women in the Public Arena is available from Amazon and all good book stores

LJ Today Page 9 March/April 2024 Books

A letter to Jewish students from Liberal Judaism’s President

Dear Students,

I DON’T know if this letter will reach you. Maybe your parents or grandparents will send it on to you, or someone will post it on social media. You might glance at it briefly and see that it is expressly addressed to you, wherever you happen to be. A letter long overdue, but necessary at a time of unprecedented and painful polarisation and turbulence on campus at universities and colleges.

I have spoken to some of you face to face or on Zoom over the months since 7 October. I know that this is a desperately harrowing and bewildering time and many of you are searching for companionship and someone to talk to, not only about what is happening in this war between Israel and Hamas, but what is happening here in the UK – this terrific spike in thoughtless, ignorant and hurtful anti-Jewish incidents and words.

I don’t know how affected you are by the reverberations of the conflict in the Middle East. Your focus may be on your studies, on the daily assignments that have to be in by certain deadlines. You may have your own personal preoccupations with family or relationships, with other worldly concerns such as what we are doing to the environment, or the growing gap between rich and poor.

But I am deeply struck by the reports I have heard and read concerning what is happening at universities – in the lecture theatre, on campus and on social media, in particular.

What does it feel like for someone Jewish to walk past a group of demonstrators holding banners with the words ‘Zionists off our campus’ or ’Stop the Genocide against Palestine’? How do you react when you hear the words of protesters shouting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”? How does it feel when close friends suddenly start to question your loyalties and to blame you for the war in Gaza? How do you respond to the accusation that the bombing of Gaza is the expression of Western imperialism by Jews?

Perhaps you are keeping a low profile, tucking your Magen David underneath your clothes, refusing to tell others of your Jewish identity. You may be nervous about ‘coming out’ as Jewish with the huge increase in anti-Jewish incidents on campus and the streets.

This is understandable – it may be too scary to confront the slogans carried and proclaimed by protesters week after week through city centres.

I wonder if you are someone who wants to – or needs to – speak to friends and fellow students about family or friends in Israel and the terrible trauma of 7 October? And why shouldn’t you?

A first-year student at UCL, a member of a Liberal synagogue, said that she was labelled a ‘brainwashed Zionist’ by fellow classmates after she had spoken about friends who had narrowly escaped from the music festival in Israel. The language used against her on social media was so full of hatred that it drove her out of her classes.

Such conduct is unspeakable, as are the death and rape threats against the Jewish chaplain and his wife in Leeds who have been forced to go into hiding with their two very young children.

Where is civility? Where is kindness? Where is understanding and intelligent listening and conversation? Where is humility and empathy?

It is a long time since I was at university. Being Jewish wasn’t always comfortable. Students who had never encountered a Jewish person brought their curiosity, but also their prejudices about Judaism, about Jewish history and identity.

Few people spoke about the Shoah 30 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Few books had been published, compared with the plethora on the subject today. There were none of the scores of films and documentaries that emerged in the late 1990s and in the years that followed. History stopped with the Russian Revolution.

We have learnt so much more and know so much more. So why are we still so ignorant about each other?

Why can’t we learn from history?

My heart goes out to each one of you. If you have read this far and if you would like to find a gentle forum where members of our congregations on campus can speak to each other, please get in touch with the rabbi of your home synagogue or one near where you are studying. Or contact Liberal Judaism directly on montagu@liberaljudaism.org

We don’t have the answers to the intractable conflict in the Middle East. But we do know that the only way forward is for Israelis and Palestinians to be helped towards a peaceful solution – through political and not military means. We can model that conversation with those out in the streets or on campus by helping them learn something about what it means to be Jewish in today’s world.

I wish you success in your studies and strength as we navigate this difficult time together.

Alexandra Wright

• Rabbi Alexandra Wright is Senior Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue and President of Liberal Judaism

Page 10 LJ Today March/April 2024
The sign-up for LJY-Netzer Macheneh Shamayim (spring) and Kadimah (summer camps) is now open.

LJY-Netzer is Liberal Judaism’s Zionist youth movement. It gives young people the opportunity to develop a strong Progressive Jewish identity, make lasting friendships and have loads of fun

Exploring our relationship with the world

Movement Worker Mia Bogod on Tu BiShvat Seders, volunteering and Veidah

THIS year, we celebrated Tu BiShvat, the Jewish festival of trees, together with our LJY community.

On Erev Tu BiShvat we hosted a Seder for our bogrimot (members over 18), where we travelled through the seasons, exploring different Jewish historical and Kabbalistic interpretations of our relationship with the natural world.

Throughout the Seder, you drink different coloured wines, and taste different fruits, celebrating this relationship, and questioning how we can better it.

The Seder was joyous and focused, primarily, on gratitude and appreciation for the trees that both physically and metaphorically act as a form of protection, inspiration and community.

We sang songs together in celebration, and read the words of Rabbis, writers and poets, building together these different forms of knowledge to imagine a utopian vision of the future, through a flourishing relationship between humans and the natural world.

Kehilot (groups of LJY members) at universities across the country also hosted Tu BiShvat celebrations, with Seders taking place in Edinburgh, Leeds and Bristol. This provided a wonderful opportunity for our student members to come together in reunion, and be inspired spiritually and physically by the natural earth around them.

As a movement which embraces the concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world), Tu BiShvat is of great importance.

It is significant to celebrate the earth’s offerings, and critically examine our actions towards it: how we value the earth, how we affect and work with it.

Amidst our gratitude, it is hugely significant to look at the climate crisis around us, and acknowledge who is most affected by it. It is our duty to the earth, and all those who dwell in it, to advocate for climate justice.

We spent the day of Tu BiShvat volunteering at Sadeh Farm, a Jewish farm in Orpington. With other volunteers, we worked the land to prepare it for the upcoming season of planting. We marked the planting of a new tree, and sang for its safe growth, development and blossoming. We then shared a lovely Seder with the Sadeh community. The mix of physical activity and Jewish spirituality came together beautifully through these two celebrations, demonstrating how both of these entities are upheld through the natural world.

As we learn from the ancient story of Honi the circle maker, planting a tree is a selfless act: one for the future, rather than the self. The act demonstrates a desire to make the future better, and a direct contribution to this occurrence.

In this time of climate crisis, it is more important than ever to take selfless and significant actions towards bringing about a more just future. Let Tu BiShvat be a celebration of our gratitude towards the earth, and, in return, a reminder of our ongoing duties to the land.

Decision time

IN the days between Christmas and New Year, we held Veidah, our annual decision making event. Veidah was filled with discussion, democracy and debate surrounding our ideology, and vision for the movement.

The event was run by three bogrimot (members over 18), and we had 25 participants, ranging from age 16 to 22. We also had a special visit from two younger members, aged 12 and 15, proposing the motions that they had passed on Kinus. We passed a total of 36 motions, which is an alltime record in the history of LJY

The event was full of laughter, creating a very special atmosphere as we celebrated Shabbat, sang, danced and prayed together. In the dark winter months, Veidah was a reminder of community, and the light that LJY-Netzer brings to so many.

Being the intensely keen teenager that I was growing up, I attended every Veidah from the age of 16. My friend and I used to love a glimpse into the life of leaders - it felt like we were seeing a little part of how the magic is created.

But the real magic struck me at this year’s Veidah - as I saw a group of committed young people choosing to come together and make intentional, ideological decisions about their movement.

Contact LJY-Netzer: Email Mia Bogod (m.bogod@liberaljudaism.org ), Mia Harris (m.harris@liberaljudaism.org) and Hannah Gellman (h.gellman@liberaljudaism.org) or visit our website www.ljy-netzer.org

LJ Today Page 11 March/April 2024 Youth
LJY-Netzer members enjoying their Tu BiShvat Seder and then a day helping at Sadeh Farm

Liberal Judaism congregations

The Ark Synagogue (Northwood and Pinner)

T: 01923 822 592

E: admin@arksynagogue.org

W: arksynagogue.org

Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue

T: 0845 869 7105

E: info@bedsps.org.uk

W: bedfordshire-ps.org.uk

Beit Klal Yisrael (London)

E: admin@bky.org.uk

W: bky.org.uk

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue

T: 0121 634 3888

E: bps@liberaljudaism.org

W: bpsjudaism.com

Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue

T: 01273 737 223

E: info@bhps-online.org

W: bhps-online.org

Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Congregation

T: 0117 403 3456

E: info@bwpjc.org

W: bwpjc.org

Crawley Jewish Community

T: 01293 534 294

Crouch End Chavurah

E: naomi@crouchendchavurah.org

W: www.crouchendchavurah.org

Dublin Jewish Progressive Congregation

E: djpc@liberaljudaism.org

W: djpcireland.com

Ealing Liberal Synagogue

T: 020 8997 0528

E: admin@ealingliberalsynagogue.org.uk

W: ealingliberalsynagogue.org.uk

East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue

T: 0208 989 7619

E: administrator@elels.org.uk

W: elels.org.uk

Eastbourne Liberal Jewish Community

T: 07376 916 920

E: eljc.contact@gmail.com

W: eljc.org.uk

Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community

T: 0131 777 8024

E: info@eljc.org

W: eljc.org

Finchley Progressive Synagogue

T: 020 8446 4063

E: fps@liberaljudaism.org

W: fps.org

Kehillah North London

T: 07706 354 602

E: info@kehillah.org.uk

W: kehillah.org.uk

Kent Liberal Jewish Community

T: 07384 993 553

E: enquiries@kljc.org.uk

W: kljc.org.uk

Kingston Liberal Synagogue

T: 020 8398 7400

E: kls@liberaljudaism.org

W: klsonline.org

Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation

E: chair@lpjc.org.uk

W: lpjc.org.uk

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (St John’s Wood)

T: 020 7286 5181

E: ljs@ljs.org

W: ljs.org

The Montagu Centre

21 Maple Street

London, W1T 4BE

T: 020 7580 1663

E: montagu@liberaljudaism.org

W: liberaljudaism.org

W: pathtoprogressivejudaism.org.uk

Liberal Judaism is the dynamic, cutting edge of modern Judaism. It reverences Jewish tradition, seeking to preserve the values of the past, while giving them contemporary force.

Charity Number: 1151090

lj today is edited by Simon Rothstein. Please send news to s.rothstein@liberaljudaism.org

The Liberal Synagogue Elstree

T: 020 8953 8889

E: office@tlse.org.uk

W: tlse.org.uk

Lincolnshire Jewish Community

W: lincolnsynagogue.com

Mosaic Liberal Synagogue (Stanmore)

T: 020 8864 0133

E: office@mosaicliberal.org.uk

W: mosaicliberal.org.uk

Norwich Liberal Jewish Community

E: nljc@liberaljudaism.org

W: norwichljc.org.uk

Nottingham Liberal Synagogue

T: 0115 962 4761

E: info@nottinghamliberalsynagogue.com

W: nottinghamliberalsynagogue.com

Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community

T: 07561 331 390

E: info@pljc.org.uk

W: pljc.org.uk

Reading Liberal Jewish Community

E: readingliberaljewishcommunity@ gmail.com

W: readingljc.org.uk

Shir Hatzafon (Copenhagen)

E: shir@shirhatzafon.dk

W: shirhatzafon.dk

South Bucks Jewish Community

T: 07377 157 261

E: info@sbjc.org.uk

W: sbjc.org.uk

Southgate Progressive Synagogue

T: 020 8886 0977

E: office@sps.uk.com

W: sps.uk.com

Acting Chair Karen Newman

The South London Liberal Synagogue (Streatham)

T: 020 8769 4787

E: office@southlondon.org

W: southlondon.org

Stevenage Liberal Synagogue

T: 01438 300 222

E: stevenageliberalsynagogue@gmail.com

W: stevenageliberalsynagogue.org.uk

Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community (Ipswich)

T:01473 250 797

E: sljc@liberaljudaism.org

W: suffolkljc.co.uk

Three Counties Liberal Jewish Community (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire)

T: 07900 612 058

E: info@3cljc.org.uk

W: 3cljc.org.uk

Wessex Liberal Jewish Community (Bournemouth)

T: 01202 757 590

E: secretary.wljc@gmail.com

W: wessexliberaljudaism.org.uk

York Liberal Jewish Community

T: 0300 102 0062

E: info@jewsinyork.org.uk

W: jewsinyork.org.uk

Developing and affiliated

Beit Ha’Chidush (Amsterdam)

E: info@beithachidush.nl

W: beithachidush.nl

Oxford Jewish Congregation

T: 01865 515 584

E: connections@ojc-online.org

W: ojc-online.org

Treasurer Leslie Moss Youth Hannah Stephenson Communities and Social Justice Owen Power

Inclusion Alexandra Boyd Strategy Alex Kinchin-Smith

Officers Penny Beral, Sue Head and Tommer Spence

President Rabbi Alexandra Wright Vice Presidents Simon Benscher, Monique Blake, Nigel Cole, Lord (Stanley) Fink, Louise Freedman, Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, Sharon Goldstein, Jane Greenfield, Lucian Hudson, Dr Edward Kessler MBE, Josie Kinchin, Ann Kirk BEM, Bob Kirk BEM, David Lipman, Frank Maxwell, Baroness (Gillian) Merron, David Pick, Rabbi Danny Rich, Tony Sacker, Joan Shopper, Phil Stone and Beverley Taylor

Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors Chairs Rabbi Alexandra Wright and Rabbi Anna Wolfson

Chief Executive Officer Rabbi Charley Baginsky

Chief Operating Officer Shelley Shocolinsky-Dwyer

Director of Development and Membership Alexandra Gellnick Director of Youth Becca Fetterman

Executive Assistant Tanya Garfield Finance Janet Manderson Lifecycle Administrator Lisa Godsal

PR Simon Rothstein Digital Jess Mindel Archivist Alison Turner Student Chaplain Rabbi Leah Jordan

LJY-Netzer Mia Bogod, Mia Harris and Hannah Gellman

Page 12 LJ Today March/April 2024
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.