Yom Chamishi, 13 AdarI 5781
Ta anith Esther Thursday, 25 February 2021

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South Bucks – an emotional farewell

11 January 2016

South Bucks Jewish Community (SBJC) held a special Shabbat service to say farewell (but decidedly not goodbye) to their rabbi of nine years - Rabbi Rachel Benjamin

The service was created and led by the current, and three retired, chairs the community, who also gave their own tributes and recollections.

The Torah reading, which was ably conducted from start to finish by her past bar/batmitzvah and Kabbalat Torah students, amply demonstrated Rabbi Rachel’s success in teaching.

The community’s Helen Cohen and Dick Vardy said: “Rachel, with her commitment, dedication and teaching, has been instrumental in developing SBJC into the vibrant, inclusive community that it is today.

“The majority of SBJC turned out to ensure Rabbi Rachel had a good, if very reluctant, send off and we were delighted that Simon Benscher, chair of Liberal Judaism, was able to be there too.

“The service finished in the traditional SBJC way with a big kiddush, an exchange of presents and some emotional individual ‘thank-yous’.

“Rabbi Rachel returned the compliments: to the community with heartfelt thanks for their unfailing support; and to her husband Harry Davies for the schlepping – and for being the rock that she always relied on.

“All wished her good luck in her new role at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue and filled a ‘memory book’ with personal comments and memories.”



Unique programme of words and music to commemorate HMD

8th January 2016

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue is hosting an extraordinary programme of words and music to commemorate National Holocaust Memorial Day.

The event, titled Leaves from the Tree of Life - Blätter vom Baum des Lebens, will take place from 5.30-7.30pm on Sunday January 24.

The special evening of readings, music and song will weave together the stories of some of Europe's suppressed composers, set against the tumultuous political backdrop of Germany and Austria in the 1930s and 40s, in a theatrical libretto by artist, writer and academic, Joseph Kohlmaier.

The unique programme includes works by Gerhard Felix Braun, Hans Gál, Robert Kahn, Karl Rankl, Viktor Ullmann, Alexander Zemlinsky, Ernst Toch and others.

It will feature Norbert Meyn (tenor), Marianne Olyver and Nigel Yandell (violin/piano duo 'Postcards from Europe'), Cathy Heller Jones and students from the Royal College of Music.

The event will take place at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John’s Wood, and is open to all. Tickets cost £12 (£8 for concessions) and can be purchased from https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leaves-from-the-tree-of-life-blatter-vom-baum-des-lebens-tickets-19471568987


Join the Twilight People youth radio project

8th January 2016

Twilight People, Liberal Judaism’s ground-breaking diversity project, is looking for a group of 16-25 year olds to put together a new audio installation in association with Roundhouse Radio and SOAS Radio.

The work will be exclusively available for the opening of the Twilight People touring exhibition, Stories of Faith and Gender Beyond the Binary, on·Thursday February 4·at Islington Museum.

The audio journey will include recordings from the people who’ve kindly given their time and stories to the photography exhibition, alongside interviews with the exhibition organisers. There will be a live radio broadcast that will take place in the museum through specially designed headphones.

The short piece will be put together by a group of around 12 young people, who will be given training in radio production, recording, editing and interview skills. Participants will be recruited from the LGBTQ community, Roundhouse Radio and SOAS.

The training is FREE and takes place on Sunday January 17 and 24·from·10am-5pm·at Roundhouse Studios, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH. Lunch will be provided.

To enrol you must be 16-25 years old and be able to travel to the Roundhouse on the above dates. Please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with the subject: TWILIGHT AUDIO PROJECT.

Please include any relevant experience or passion in radio, music or audio production and tell us why you would like to do the project in no more than 300 words. No previous experience is necessary. Enrolment closes at·midnight·on·Friday January 15.

Twilight People is a landmark project that discovers and celebrates the hidden history of transgender and gender-variant people of faith in the UK past and present.

It is supported by the National Lottery through the Lottery Heritage Fund and hosted by Liberal Judaism. For more information about this project go to·www.twilightpeople.com

Liberal Judaism in the press – Top 5 Stories

The last year has seen the profile of Liberal Judaism rise higher than ever. Our communities, rabbis and members have been featured on TV and radio, as well as in print and online press – covering national, regional and religious publications.

Here are five of our favourite media appearances:

1. York Liberal Jewish Community in The Observer
This lengthy feature looked at how our movement has brought Judaism back to York, giving the city’s Jews a chance to uphold their faith, while accepting the realities of modern life. It is a great example of Liberal Judaism in action and our principles around Jewish identity. YLJC chair Ben Rich is quoted in the article, saying: “We say to people: we’re interested in your story, your experiences and your values, rather than your biology.”

2. Rabbi Leah Jordan on Songs of Praise
Liberal Judaism’s student and young adult chaplain Rabbi Leah Jordan starred on BBC One’s Songs of Praise as part of a Christian/Jewish Mitzvah Day project, cooking for the homeless. Leah said: “Getting people from different backgrounds in a room together, working towards the same goal, is one of the best ways to build relationships.”

3. Rabbi Danny Rich on BBC Radio
Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, appeared on multiple BBC Radio stations urging the British Government to accept 20,000 refugees and taking on the arguments of those who wish to limit the number of refugees coming to Britain and Europe. Danny told the BBC World Service: “What we know is that very many migrants, indeed the overwhelming majority of them, prove to be excellent citizens who make great contributions to the cultural and economic wellbeing of society.”

4. Rabbi Harry Jacobi in The Jewish News
Writing on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Rabbi Harry Jacobi recalled how he fled the Nazis twice to become one of Liberal Judaism’s most senior rabbis – but still faces intolerance in Orthodox parts of the community. In a moving segment, Harry wrote: “At a national remembrance event, I requested to recite the memorial prayer El Malei Rachamim, as I alone among the officiants had lost parents and grandparents in the Shoah. I was told: ‘It is not appropriate for you to recite it.’”

5. Twilight People in The Jewish Chronicle
In an in-depth article, the JC looked at Liberal Judaism’s pioneering Twilight People project and how our communities can make trans Jews feel more welcome. Twilight People project manager Surat Shaan-Knan told the paper: "We need to promote a greater knowledge and understanding of the needs and requirements of transgender and gender-variant people. Often there is little awareness about the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Every rabbi should look into the development of life-cycle events and liturgy. Jewish ritual should be adapted in trans-inclusive ways.”


LJY-Netzer – Top 5 Landmarks in 2015

Liberal Judaism’s youth movement, LJY-Netzer, has enjoyed a year to remember – with ground-breaking campaigns, innovative education and incredible events, tours and camps. Below, we pick out five key LJY-Netzer moments from 2015:

1. A new route for Kayitz Netzer Europe Tour
LJY-Netzer’s summer Europe Tour, held jointly with the Reform youth movement RSY-Netzer, took a very different route in 2015 – visiting key cities in Bosnia, Croatia and Austria. Movement worker Tom Francies told the Jewish Chronicle: “Although our previous route of Prague, Budapest and Berlin was unique when Kayitz Netzer began, it is now very well serviced by lots of Jewish youth organisations. This new route saw those in school year 12 visiting the former Yugoslavia for the first time, as well as Austria."

2. Campaigning for action on climate change in Paris
Young Liberals joined the call for action on climate change alongside other youth groups including RSY-Netzer, NOAM, FZY and the UJS at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, from November 30 to December 11. Movement worker Sam Alston told why in The Jewish News, writing: “One of the first things we find out in Genesis, is our responsibility to improve and protect the world. Some people show their Judaism by the way they pray or the food they eat, but for LJY-Netzer, a very important part of our Judaism is how we treat others and the better world we want to leave for our children.”

3. Studying the history of the Holocaust
Five members of LJY-Netzer joined 11,000 people from around the world taking part in the March of the Living in April. The annual educational program brings students from all over the globe to Poland, in order to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. Writing a blog on the LJY-Netzer website, Daisy Bogod reflected: “Before my trip, I had a decent but somewhat basic understanding of the events of the Shoah. During my trip, I learnt how it worked; I walked through the routes taken by the two groups of prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau: the group that was taken straight to the gas chambers and the group that was were stripped, shaven, disinfected, tattooed and crammed into a barrack of a thousand people to await their almost inevitable death.”

4. A whole summer of Judaism
With 135 young Liberal Jews on Machaneh Kadimah summer camp, and our older youth touring Israel and Europe – it was a very busy summer for LJY-Netzer. Writing in The Jewish News on the importance of such schemes, movement worker Anna Craven said: “A summer spent with a youth movement is a way to get a Jewish experience and identity that doesn’t happen in term-time.”

5. And one of our members even stars in a hit TV show!
LJY-Netzer member Miranda Robshaw starred in one of this year’s most popular TV shows. Three million people tuned in each week on BBC2 to watch Miranda and her family in Back in Time for Dinner, a time-traveling culinary show. Miranda – along with mum Rochelle, dad Brandon, sister Rosalind and brother Fred – showed how they would have eaten as a family living in each of the post-war decades in the 20th century. Miranda said: “It was an amazing experience for the whole family, and one I will never forget - I really feel as thought I've lived through the 50s, which is quite a unique feeling for someone born in 1996!"


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