Yom Shlishi, 16 Iyyar 5779
Tuesday, 21 May 2019
Shanah Tovah from Liberal Judaism

On 5 October 1945 Rabbi Israel Mattuck, Britain’s first Liberal rabbi, preached a sermon to his congregation at the LJS, an institution he had served for over 30 years. He argued that the world needed spiritual direction. He asked in the context of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany whether the knowledge and power of humanity had (finally) outstripped its moral sense. He questioned the moral appropriateness of extreme power.

He observed, ‘When the atomic bomb was first launched all thinking people were profoundly disturbed.’

Having identified what must have been in the minds of his listeners, he then asked what Judaism might contribute to the debate. In a succinct paragraph he summarised his personal philosophy which had underpinned his life’s work: the essence of Judaism was to speak the simple truth about the issues of the day. He said,

'If Judaism is to exercise an influence in the world it must be something more than tradition which some Jews like to maintain for their satisfaction; it must be a message to the world. That requires two things. It must embody the thought, the ideas which men and women accept as true on sufficient ground. It cannot have a message for the world of today if it clings to obsolete beliefs and ideas. Secondly, it must address itself to the problems that agitate our world.’

This remains the raison d’être of Liberal Judaism, and on behalf of its President, Vice-Presidents, Officers, its Rabbis and its staff I send all members of Liberal Judaism communities good wishes for a thoughtful and successful Yamim Noraim and 5774.

Rabbi Danny Rich
Chief Executive
Liberal Judaism