Yom Sheini, 22 Iyyar 5779
Monday, 27 May 2019
Liberals heed conference calls for progression

The JC
May 19 2014

Some people believe religion and politics should not mix. But Rabbi Jonah Pesner, senior-president of the Union of Reform Judaism in North America, is not among them.

His keynote speech to Liberal Judaism's biennial conference at the weekend was a stirring call to action. "To be a Progressive Jew is to put a stake in the ground for a political vision of a just society," he declared.

It was not enough to volunteer in soup kitchens or take part in Mitzvah Day, he argued. Progressive Jews should join other faith groups and work across party political lines to tackle injustice.

He hailed Liberal Judaism's achievement in being the first synagogue movement to pledge to pay a living wage and its involvement in the grassroots campaign group, Citizens UK.

His address, blending personal anecdote and prophetic passion, set the mood for the event, chiming with Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich's declaration that "social justice is the key component to messianic realisation".

But, along with the workshops, study groups and Shabbat worship, there was time to relax at the bar, if not enough for a round of golf at the Wokefield Park Hotel venue, near Reading.

"There is a mood of celebration here, a feeling that on a number of issues we are moving forward," said Robin Moss, 27, one of four under-35s on LJ's board of 13. There was, he added, "a self-confidence around the movement - a lack of apology. We are not 'not Orthodox' and not 'not Reform'. We use the traditions and Jewish historical experience, combining these with modern values to have an authentic form of Judaism that works for the 21st century."

There was a record attendance of more than 300 delegates.  Read more