Yom Shabbat, 23 Av 5779
Saturday, 24 August 2019
Starting the New Year with a bang PDF Print E-mail

FOLLOWING a unanimous vote at the Liberal Judaism council meeting on Tuesday October 2, our movement will soon be registering as a company limited by guarantee. Here, Liberal Judaism chairman Lucian J Hudson explains the importance of this move:

DOCTOR WHO may be a Time Lord, but Liberal Jews seek to find meaning in the process of continuity and change - a true mastery of time. Judaism is about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and one way it does this is by marking the moment. In every generation, every moment contains potential for learning. Freshness of perspective is the great liberator. Not surprisingly, the concept of a Jewish New Year must resonate for all Jews, especially Liberal Jews.

I’m proud to say that Liberal Judaism has started this New Year with a bang. The decision to register our union as a company limited by guarantee is an important step in putting Liberal Judaism on an even sounder legal and organisational footing. At a stroke it deals with concerns from those who might not volunteer to be trustees or directors for fear they would be personally liable. This has never been an issue for us and our finances are in a healthy state, despite the pressures on the budget. But in taking this decision we adopt good practice from across the civil society sector and preserve the governance that we value as a movement.


We are a blend of constituent parts where reflection, deliberation and decision define the character of the movement as a whole. The chairman’s role is to make timely decision-making possible, choosing the moment when we confront difficult choices or make the most of opportunities.


We should distinguish between Liberal Judaism the ideology or body of thought and practice, and its organisational embodiment. One reflects and informs the other, but they are not identical, hence the importance that we put on the union of synagogues and communities. Each community has its own character and autonomy.


The strength of Liberal Judaism lies in its appreciation of its shared purpose, where diversity is not just tolerated, but warmly embraced. The test of leadership for us is collaboration, finding common ground while tackling issues honestly and constructively. The move to becoming a company limited by guarantee was marked by careful consultation at every stage, culminating in a clear identification of which issues were the most important to resolve.


Liberal Judaism shares this insight from theoretical physics: through every interaction, something emerges, often unforeseen, a fresh challenge or opportunity. So planned strategies are laudable but empty if we do not respond appropriately to the emergent. Affirmation 23, to which I attach special importance, reinforces the dynamic character of Judaism. Dynamism is not just energy, but purposeful change. It is often accompanied by a sense of awe and enthusiasm, an openness to the wonder of the world and its possibilities.


We are the challengers of the default reaction of those who automatically defend the status quo: "It was ever thus." I am now into my 10th year as chairman of a civil society organisation and, with this latest change agreed, shall now be looking to other ways to strengthen our movement so that we can better serve our members and develop in influence and impact.

• Lucian J Hudson is chairman of Liberal Judaism. You can contact Lucian by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it