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As a Rabbi, I’m praying for common sense over the same-sex marriage bill debate

25 January 2013

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, the co-chair of the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism says that he looks forward to being able to marry couples whether they are same-sex or opposite sex. He urges for common sense in the passing of the Marriage (Same-sex couples) Bill.

This past year, I have officiated at around a dozen weddings. Some were a chuppah – the wedding canopy under which two Jews are married. Under English Law, my Synagogue is registered to perform the Jewish, religious wedding and the Civil wedding as one. I have also performed a number of mixed faith blessings where I and my Synagogue are not permitted under English Law to act as the Civil Registrar. In these cases, the couple must be married in a Civil Ceremony by a local Registrar before I will ask God to bless their marriage.  Read more 

Join the bone marrow register

Liberal Judaism is urging all its members to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register or give blood in order to help save lives.

The cause has been highlighted in the Jewish community this week after the launch of the #Spit4Mum Twitter campaign looking for bone marrow donors to help Sharon Berger.

Sharon’s son Jonni sent a moving email to different parts of the community, including Liberal Judaism, urging everyone to help.

He wrote: “I need your help for my mum and others like her in need of a bone marrow transplant. Anything you can do will really be appreciated.

“My mum has this week started chemotherapy treatment for a leukaemia condition in order to prepare her body for a bone marrow transplant in 6 weeks’ time, although all international registries are being searched, unfortunately we do not currently have a match, it really is a race against time.

“Hopefully through the power of our own networks the numbers of people on the register will be able to be increased quickly and help the many people in the world in need of an urgent transplant be it my mum Sharon, someone else's mum, mother-in-law, aunt, daughter, grandmother, wife, relative, friend or even a stranger.”

There are many things you can do to help, including:

If you are 16-30 and not on the Anthony Nolan stem cell register, consider requesting a spit kit in order to send a sample of saliva in the post - it only takes a few minutes to do. More details can be found at http://is.gd/Spit4Mum

If you are 31-50 and able to give blood, please consider going to a blood donor centre or a local donor session and asking to have your stem cells screened at the same time. More details can be found at http://is.gd/Donate4Mum

If you are already on the register then please make sure your details are up to date, if you can't be found, you can't be a lifesaver. Find out more from http://is.gd/Update4Mum

If you are expecting a baby then consider donating your cord blood at birth. There is more information at http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/cordblood/

If you’re not in these age ranges then you can still help by forwarding this information on to as many people as you can, be they family members, friends, colleagues or clients. You can get more information via http://is.gd/Spit4Mum

Woodland burials available for Liberal Jews

8 January 2013

Liberal Judaism is now offering woodland burials. From today, these can take place at Cheshunt Cemetery with negotiations continuing to also offer them at Edgwarebury Cemetery.

Although some of the details are still to be finalised, Liberal Judaism members wishing a woodland burial will be able to do so via the existing Liberal Judaism funeral scheme.

Because woodland burials require more land than traditional interment – due to tree root and tree spread – a woodland burial levy will be made: in 2013 this will be £1,600.

Because those who opt for woodland burial usually do so for environmental reasons, the charge will often work out less than for a typical tombstone.

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said: “Woodland burial has been on my agenda for some time. It is one aspect of the Liberal Judaism environmental agenda.

“The details have been complex but we are now there and are able to offer choice – a Liberal Judaism mantra – in death as well as in life.”

Supporting equality at the Western Wall

2 January 2013

Liberal Judaism is proud to support the IRAC (Israel Religious Action Center) campaign for equality at the Western Wall.

IRAC executive director Anat Hoffman is urging people to contact The Jewish Agency, who are investigating the matter, to voice support for Judaism's holiest site representing all Jews.

The IRAC has produced a draft letter to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky that can be found at this link - http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50494/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9141

Anat says: “You may use our template or compose your own letter. When you have finished please pass this on to as many people as you can and post it on Facebook, Twitter, and your other social media outlets.

“This is a tremendous opportunity. We are on the precipice of real change. I believe 2013 could finally be the year of the first batmitzvah at the Western Wall.

“Thank you as always for your help.”

Liberals at Limmud

2 January 2013

Liberal Judaism was well represented at this year’s Limmud Conference with rabbis, staff and members in attendance.

Outreach Team members Rabbi Sandra Kviat, Rabbi Ariel Friedlander, Student Rabbi Benji Stanley, Sam Grant and Cantor Gershon Silins all led sessions – with Rainbow Jews project manager Surat Rathgeber Knan and the LJY-Netzer team also heavily involved.

Our team presented on subjects as diverse as how to write your own ketubah, Jews & football in the UK and the impact of 1970’s folk music on synagogue liturgy.

Rabbi Ariel said: “I was particularly pleased to sit on a panel that included an Orthodox rabbi.

“This meant that Jews who would normally not come to hear a Liberal rabbi were present, and saw rabbis from the four mainstream groups show how to discuss a difficult subject with respect for each other.”

rj at limmudSurat – who staffed a stall and gave a presentation about Rainbow Jews – added: “People from all strands of Judaism listened to me speak and came to our stall to get more info about this landmark project.

“I think we managed to inspire quite a few Limmudniks to get involved!”

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