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Twilight People exhibition opens in Islington

8 February 2016

Britain’s first ever exhibition highlighting the heritage of transgender and gender nonconforming people of faith has opened to great fanfare. 

Part of Liberal Judaism’s Twilight People project, a collection of photographs, recordings and artefacts exploring this ‘hidden history’ are on display at Islington Museum in London until March 5. The exhibition will then go on tour around the country.

A successful launch event took place at Islington Museum on Thursday February 4, with the Deputy Mayor of Islington, Cllr Kat Fletcher, and Cllr Osh Gantly – Cllr Gantly – one of very few openly transgender elected representatives in the UK”– among the invited guests. Liberal Judaism was represented by chair Simon Benscher and senior rabbi and chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich, as well as Rabbis Janet Burden and Janet Darley.

Danny said: “One of Liberal Judaism’s tasks is to prod at least the Jewish community, and arguably wider society, to think about things in a different way. And, one of the things this exhibition does, is to get us thinking about gender in a very different way. We also have a responsibility to be a voice for those whose voices are often not heard, and to make clear the stories that are often hidden.

“That is why I am proud of this exhibition and proud that Liberal Judaism hosts the Twilight People project.”

Twilight People: Stories of Faith and Gender Beyond the Binary captures the voices and images of more than 40 trans people from different faith backgrounds - among them Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Pagan - and interprets them in a heritage context.

The exhibition – which is running as part of LGBT History Month 2016 - combines oral history with portraiture by photographer Christa Holka, alongside film and memorabilia objects. It runs Monday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm (closed Wednesdays and Sundays).

Guests at the launch enjoyed drinks courtesy of Barefoot Wines and an exclusive live audio installation produced by Roundhouse Radio and SOAS Radio with young people from Gendered Intelligence and other youth groups. They also received an exclusive hard copy edition of the Twilight People exhibition booklet

The audio tour will be downloadable as part of the Twilight People app, after a special after-dark event this Thursday, February 11, from 5.30-7.30pm at the museum. The booklet can be downloaded from the Twilight People website.

Twilight People project manager Surat Shaan Knan said: “This has been an amazing journey on so many levels and I invite everyone to join us and be part of it. Before attending, I would urge everyone to download the Twilight People app on your mobile or tablet – giving an interactive audio guide that will help you explore and enjoy the exhibition in a unique way.”

Islington Council’s equalities champion, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwarz, added: “I am delighted that the Islington Museum has been able to host this ground-breaking and thought-provoking exhibition. The honest testimony and highly personal art included in the exhibition is both moving and timely, as greater attention and thought is given to the relationship around gender variance and faith.”   

For more information on the exhibition please visit www.islington.gov.uk/heritage and www.twilightpeople.com

Twilight People is supported by the National Lottery through the Lottery Heritage Fund and proudly hosted by Liberal Judaism.

 
Upcoming NLPS Funding Opportunity

8 February 2016

The next meeting of the NLPS Trust will be held on Thursday April 7. Should your community or group wish to apply for funding, please contact the Trust's Administrator, Sandra Greenberg, on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to request a grant application form. More details can be found on the Trust's website

To date, 180 grants have been awarded by the NLPS Trust amounting to more than £0.5million. The smallest grant has been under £200 and the largest £26,000. The average grant has been £3,500.

The Trustees meet every six months to consider applications for grants, spending time determining what projects, in their view, will make the most effective use of the funds available.

Grant application forms must be returned by Friday March 4.

 
Staff changes at Liberal Judaism

8 February 2016

Liberal Judaism has promoted two members of staff, welcomed back a familiar face and added a new person to the team at the Montagu Centre, the movement’s head office in central London.

Following the departure of Yael Shotts, Liberal Judaism took the decision to split her portfolio by promoting recent joiners Alexandra Simonon and Aaron Abraham into new roles.

Alexandra ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), who was previously Liberal Judaism’s lifecycle administrator, has now also taken on Yael’s administration management duties. A member of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue, Alexandra graduates from the Ba'alei Tefillah lay leadership programme in 2016.

She said: “In my new role as lifecycle and administration manager, I'll be overseeing the admin team at the Montagu Centre, and managing the administration of Liberal Judaism’s Council and Rabbinic Conference. I will, of course, continue to support our communities, rabbis and members around marriages, circumcisions, Beit Din and funerals, a work that is very important to me and that I am delighted to carry on doing.”

Aaron Abraham ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) has moved from being Danny Rich’s executive assistant to managing Liberal Judaism internal communications, events and Patrons – while also supporting Simon Rothstein and Ben Rich on the PR team. Aaron retains his responsibilities for Liberal Judaism’s Board of National Officers, Resource Bank and Biennial Weekend. He is the first port of call for members with any communications/events queries and announcements.

Aaron said: “Liberal Judaism has a long history of promoting pride in our work and a sense of communal unity. I’m really excited to build upon that history by supporting communication and engagement between our staff, outreach teams and constituent communities – building upon the previous work with our Patrons and producing exciting and appealing events, including this year’s Biennial.”

Daisy Bogod ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) joins the admin team as Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich's new personal assistant. Daisy – a member of Ealing Liberal Synagogue and a leader in the LJY-Netzer youth movement – will work around 30 hours per week and will be responsible for Danny’s diary and administration.

Daisy said: “I love Liberal Judaism because of it combines religion and spirituality with social justice and a desire to make the world a better place. This is job is already amazing, primarily as I get to be surrounded by people who care about Progressive Judaism and actively live their lives according to these values.”

Tom Rich ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) has returned to Liberal Judaism as the interim receptionist at the Montagu Centre, while the management team recruit a permanent member of staff to fill the role.

Congratulations to Liberal Judaism officer Ed Herman, wife Rachael and proud big sister Alys – who are celebrating the birth of Dylan David Herman. Ed said: “David and Rachael are both doing really well.”

 
LJ playwright is top 5 at Vault Festival 2016

7 February 2016

New play RUN poses questions on gay, Jewish teenagers at London arts festival

RUN, by LJ’s own Aaron Abraham (who writes as Stephen Laughton)  has been picked to be published as part of Plays from the Vault: an anthology of the top five plays at London’s Vault festival.

Brought to you by up-and-coming director Oli Rose, RUN opens this week as part of London's biggest art festival.

The one-man play is filled with school riots, first loves, beached whales, cinema, space and sex, where Yonni (Tom Ross-Williams), an orthodox, Jewish teenager, explores feelings of angst and rebellion. As he sneaks out during the Sabbath, he pulls us into a colourful world that spans the entire universe; a world away from his overbearing mother and distant father, away from the stresses of school and 'shul' and 'shabbat'. Into the arms of Adam; the cheeky, older boy who catches his eye and leads him astray. We see love, life and loss through his eyes.

Yonni is played by rising star Tom Ross-Wiliams, hailed by the Jewish News as one of the their Young, Gifted and Making their Mark alumni.

Aaron’s last play, NINE LIVES explored the consequences of partition on national identity; and was part of the PlayWROUGHT festival at the Arcola Theatre in 2015. His first play MARINA ABRAMOVIC IS STARING AT ME was produced in New York City. Aaron says: “It’s amazing to be included in Plays from the Vault. And I can’t wait to see it at the  festival. RUN is a really beautiful and personal play for me, that explores my own feelings of passion, questioning and confusion during that too typical teenage angsty phase. The play also has a really anarchic feel to it, so the Vault feels like a natural home.”

Tickets for RUN are available from vaultfestival.com for £12. Plays from the Vault is available to buy on Thursday 28 January from nickhearnbooks.co.uk and at Vault Festival.

For more information visit run-theplay.net or visit the Facebook or Twitter page: www.facebook.com/runtheplay @run_theplay

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Liberal Judaism welcomes first Scandinavian member synagogue

2 February 2016

Shir Hatzafon synagogue – ‘The Song of the North’ – has become the first Scandinavian member of Liberal Judaism, increasing the movement’s number of members to 42 communities over five countries.

Started informally in 1998, Shir Hatzafon was officially recognized by the Danish Government in 2004.   Today, it has 120 members from the tiny Danish Jewish community of just 7,000.  They meet once a month for services in Copenhagen.

They are led by Rabbi Sandra Kviat, who became the first ever female Scandinavian rabbi when she was ordained at the Leo Baeck College in London in 2011.   She shares her time between Shir Hatzafon and Crouch End Chavurah, as well as being part of Liberal Judaism’s Outreach Team.

Shir Hatzafon’s chair, Adrienne Mannov, addressed Liberal Judaism’s Council on January 26, 2016, saying: “We are delighted to become part of this wonderful family of progressive Judaism.”

The community’s acceptance into membership was approved unanimously, with Shir Hatzafon becoming the seventh new community to join Liberal Judaism in the last decade, underlining the movement’s status as the UK’s fastest growing mainstream Jewish tradition.

Welcoming the movement’s newest members, Liberal Judaism’s chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich, said: “The values that we share in common as a movement, of equality, inclusivity and egalitarianism are not restricted to British Jewry.  Indeed, they are evidence of Judaism’s ability to continue to grow and thrive by ensuring our relevance to modern world.

“This is as true in Denmark as it is here in Britain and we are proud, therefore, to be able to say ‘velkomst (welcome)’ to our newest member.”

For photographs and more information, please contact Ben Rich on 07469 159134 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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