Yom Rishon, 16 AdarI 5781
Sunday, 28 February 2021
"Liberal Judaism must continue to have a relationship with Israel’

Read below as Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Chair of Liberal Judaism’s Rabbinic Conference, discusses a week of change in Israeli Society and how it impacts Liberal Judaism's relationship with Israel:

It is Friday afternoon and I am sitting in Haifa with the sun shining as my family begins preparation for Shabbat with an afternoon sleep. All is quiet and soon the sun will set on what has been an eventful week in Israeli political history. Much comment has been made in the press and on social media about the consequences of the Israeli elections and everywhere you turn people are talking about it. While there is no question of its significance for the Israeli people, we cannot ignore the possible impact on Diaspora Jewry.

I have spent the week with Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich and Ilan Baron, of Durham University, meeting people and having conversations about the future engagements of Liberal Judaism with Israel.

We have met a wide range of people – journalists from Ha’Aretz, academics from across the spectrum of Israeli society, our LJY-Netzer Shnatties, representatives from Bicom, Kumu, IMPJ and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

It has been an incredible trip and has, as is often the case, left us with as many questions as answers. A few things however are certain.

The first is that Liberal Judaism must continue to have a relationship with Israel. While the election results may have left many in the UK and Israel disillusioned and despairing, the voice of Progressive Judaism is needed more than ever. There are many people here who need the recognition and support that they do not speak with the same voice as the government. It is a time for re-engagement for the sake of both our communities. We have the potential to develop a new model of relationship based in mutuality and learning, dialogue and debate that is constructive and enriching.

The second is that we need to develop a language that couches our Zionism in the heart of our religious dialogue. For too long we have allowed religious Zionism to remain the realm of people whose religious values do not mirror our own. We need a confident articulation of our belief in the right for a Jewish state to exist while acknowledging that others too have the same right to freedom. We too have religious ideals and ethics that can be used to describe this relationship.

Lastly, engagement is key. Without knowledge and face to face encounter with the other there can be no relationship. We must develop programmes and experiences that not only allow our communities to be in Israel, but also create opportunities for Israelis to experience the richness and pluralism of Diaspora Liberal Jewish life.

Sunday June 7 and the Liberal Judaism Day of Celebration is an incredible way to discuss these issues and more, to challenge your assumptions and learn more. It is also a chance for some of these face to face encounters. Israel is a land of multiple narratives, of many voices and experiences. Liberal Judaism has always embraced its ability to maintain an ideological and religious path while containing within it a diversity that is little seen elsewhere. Come and be part of beginning to create a new Diaspora/Israel relationship that has at its heart a Liberal Jewish ethic.

Find out more about the Day of Celebration and book your tickets by visiting http://tinyurl.com/LJDOC2015