Yom Shabbat, 17 Tammuz 5779
Saturday, 20 July 2019
Values and Affirmations
Affirmations of Liberal Judaism

The Affirmations of Liberal Judaism set out the common ground we share with other streams within Judaism as well as our distinctive approach.  You can read them here

 
Ageing

by Rabbi Chaim Wender

It is widely recognised that the average life-span in contemporary western society is increasing dramatically, largely as a result of advances in medicine, nutrition and working conditions. This has led gerontologists to speak in terms of a ‘grey population explosion’.For the Jewish population, in Great britain and elsewhere, these trends are even more pronounced than in the general population, due to such factors as a relatively low birth rate and delayed marriages related to the pursuit of higher education.Such societal patterns may call for us, and for other Jewish communities as well, to re-examine the allocation and priorities of our resources, be they financial, personnel or programmatic.

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Animal Welfare

by Rabbi Hillel Avidan

Judaism moved early to protect the rights of animals and to the extent that Christianity and Islam express concern for animals, they have usually borrowed from Jewish sources. Yet Jews have been reluctant to proclaim this fact or to demonstrate how modern animal welfare societies have been inspired (albeit unconsciously or indirectly) by the teachings of our faith. Jews have cause to feel both pride and great sadness when they consider the exacting moral standards of Jewish animal welfare legislation and homily, and compare those standards with the neglect and abuse of animals so characteristic of most societies and legal systems, past and present. Genesis 1:26 states that man may dominate all other creatures (which would appear inevitable, given superior human intelligence) but the dominion intended is a caring and responsible paternalism rather than a callous exploitation. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 59b) "dominion" is interpreted as the privilege of using animals for labour.  Read more

 
Biblical Criticism

by Rabbi Dr Charles H Middleburgh


For many centuries Jews regarded the Hebrew Bible as ‘Holy Writ’ and therefore studied it uncritically, as a sacrosanct document whose narratives are all historically true and whose commandments are all divine and therefore to be obeyed. This philosophy, known as Fundamentalism, is not exclusive to Judaism, but in our context it quintessentially expresses the view that the Five books of Moses are the word of God revealed on Mt. Sinai. as a result, those who espouse this view say that everything in the Torah must be obeyed, and nothing may be denied or ignored.  Read more

 
Circumcision

by Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

Circumcision is an ancient sign of identity for Jewish males, which has been practised throughout the generations. However, it is a mitzvah(commandment) which is being questioned increasingly, within and beyond the Jewish community. Liberal Judaism has always recognised the importance of circumcision as a symbol of the covenant and a mark of Jewish identity. However, it also accepts that there are grounds for questioning the practice, and that some parents choose not to circumcise their sons for reasons of conscience.  Read more (pdf)

 
Death & Mourning

by Rabbi Alexandra Wright

"Man's days are as grass; he blossoms like a flower of the field. For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." All religions come to terms with the mortality of human beings in their own way. For some, it is the prime concern of their spiritual exploration; for others, such as Judaism, it is a matter on which little time is spent. This is because, underpinning the vast structure of Jewish law and thought, there lies the strong belief that this world, this life, this tangible existence is the experience to which we must address our energies; the next life, with all its uncertainties, is not for too much speculation. With this attitude firmly entrenched, Jewish law makes admirable provision for those who mourn, whilst the person who is dying receives somewhat less attention in the traditional sources.  Read more

 
Environment

by Rabbi Hillel Avidan

Threats of global destruction, through pollution and exhaustion of the earth
For the Jew, ecological awareness should be prompted by more than self interest, because Judaism has ever expressed profound concern for environmental well-being. Such concern is a concomitant of the cardinal belief in One Creator who is anxious to include humanity in an ongoing programme of planetary care.  Read more

 
Ethical Eating

by Rabbi Janet Burden

Kashrut is the Hebrew name for the traditional system of Jewish dietary laws. based in Torah and developed by the rabbis, these laws, together with our observance of the Shabbat, have been the primary distinguishing ‘hallmarks’ of Jewish identity throughout much of our people’s history. Read more

 
Jewish Marriage

by Rabbi David Goldberg

Marriage has always been highly valued in Jewish tradition. To marry was deemed an obligation, and celibacy, as practised by such minority sects as the Essenes, has never been favoured by mainstream Judaism. The priests of old usually married, as did the rabbis who succeeded them in ministering to the people. Read more

 
Lesbian and Gay Jews and Same Sex Relationships

by Rabbi Roderick Young

The last half of the twentieth century saw an extraordinary shift in public and private attitudes towards homosexuality. With the passing of the Sexual offences act of 967 private homosexual acts between consenting adults were decriminalized and the gradual process began whereby gay men and lesbians adopted a more visible profile. Today being lesbian or gay is no bar to holding public office and there are openly gay and lesbian people working in nearly every walk of life, including the rabbinate. Today lesbians and gay men are raising children and having marriage ceremonies. Liberal Judaism is proud to have been in the vanguard of this change of attitude.  Read more 

 
Liberal Judaism & Jewish Identity

by Rabbi John D Rayner

Judaism is not transmitted genetically but culturally and within families through example and influence. The process of transmission is one of education in the broadest sense, so that what is transmitted is not merely knowledge but beliefs and values, attitudes and ideals, and above all, a sense of identification and commitment.

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Miracles

by Rabbi Stephen Howard BSc MA

Usually we think of miracles as wonderful events which happen contrary to the laws of nature. These are the ‘supernatural’ miracles with which the bible abounds: talking animals, seas and rivers dividing affording dry passage to the israelites ,water turning to blood, Jonah’s whale, resurrection of the dead, the list goes on and on. Still, today, it is seen by some as a test of one’s faith that one must believe in these miracles. if one does not, it is felt, one does not truly believe in God or in one’s religion.

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The Role of Women

by Rabbi Helen Freeman and Rabbi Marcia Plumb

We affirm the equal status of men and women in synagogue life.  The Liberal Jewish movement has been the pioneer in that respect in Britain. There is no sex segregation in our synagogues.  Women may lead services, become rabbis and hold any synagogue office.  Read more

 
Zionism & Israel

by The Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism

We recognise the unique role which the Land of Israel has played in the history, prayers and hopes of our people through the ages. We also acknowledge that the discrimination and persecution, culminating in the Shoah (Holocaust), which have so often been the lot of our people during the centuries of this dispersion, have made the reestablishment of an autonomous Jewish community in our ancient homeland a matter of absolute necessity.  We therefore salute the Pioneers of Zionism and the founders and defenders of the State of Israel whose vision and courage have turned that dream into reality.We reaffirm our love for the Land of Israel, our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who dwell within its borders, and our commitment to the State of Israel. We rejoice in its existence, delight in its future, and hope for the ever fuller realisation of the ideals of justice and equality for all its citizens set forth in its Declaration of Independence, so that it may become more and more a force for good in the life of the Jewish people, of the Middle East region and of humanit

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