Liberal Judaism celebrates its central part in the spectrum of Jewish life
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Liberal Judaism celebrates its central part in the spectrum of Jewish life

More than 150 people attended the Day of Celebration, held at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood, to outline their “big dreams” for the future at the movement.

Keynote speakers Sara Nathan and Paul Anticoni. Picture: Yakir Zur
Keynote speakers Sara Nathan and Paul Anticoni. Picture: Yakir Zur

Liberal Judaism’s leaders and rabbis celebrated a joyous return after lockdown with their first in-person event for three years.

More than 150 people attended the Day of Celebration, held at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood, to outline their “big dreams” for the future at the movement.

A further 100 joining via Zoom or watched live on Twitter and Facebook.

In her opening remarks, Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Charley Baginksy outlined many recent successes and urged delegates to continue to help the movement develop and grow as it celebrates its 120th anniversary year.

She said: “Today is all about exploring the past and beginning to think about the future.

“At the start of the pandemic, we made a commitment. We committed to collaboration, to raising up a multitude of voices and to ensuring that Liberal Judaism met the needs of those on the margins. But we also committed to ensuring that we were not seen as a marginal part of Judaism, but rather a central place in the beautiful spectrum of what it means to be Jewish.

“This creative fulcrum where Liberal and Judaism meet now needs to be nurtured. We have such big dreams of what is possible and now is the time to bring them to fruition.”

Liberal Judaism president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein also laid down a challenge, telling attendees: “In its 120 years, Liberal Judaism has faced several eras of change and challenge and has come out stronger, has often led the Jewish way and has been creative and outward looking, yet inwardly inclusive. Our next challenge starts now with this conference. Let us renew our enthusiasm and increase our commitment.”

The Day of Celebration’s keynote presentation was given by Sara Nathan, co-founder of Refugees at Home, and World Jewish Relief CEO Paul Anticoni. They outlined what role Liberal Jews can play to assist in the many refugee crises currently unfolding around the world.

Liberal youngsters create their own Torah. Picture: Yakir Zur

Other presenters at the event included JW3 CEO Raymond Simonsen, Reclaim the Streets co-founder Jamie Klinger and the Church of England’s first minority ethnic vocations officer Rosemarie Davidson-Gotobed, as well as Liberal Judaism’s rabbis and student rabbis from Leo Baeck College.

The fun was provided with a cookery demonstration by top chef Silvia Nacamulli, a concert from three of Liberal Judaism’s finest musicians – Judith Silver, Joseph Finlay and Alexander Massey – and a full programme of youth events put on by LJY-Netzer, where young Liberal Jews did everything from designing their own Torah to dressing up as the rabbis of the future.

This was all accompanied by an exhibition of the Heritage Lottery funded history project Lily’s Legacy, which documents Liberal Judaism’s radical history inspired by founder Lily Montagu.

Rabbi Igor Zinkov, who co-chaired the Day of Celebration organising committee, said: “To have everyone back together in person after three years, while still making use of the new skills we learned in the pandemic to open our doors wider than ever, was truly special. But even more special is what will happen next, as we leave the day enthused and ready for the next steps in our Liberal Judaism story.”

 

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