Pause for Thought with Rabbi Rebecca


This week is Refugee Week and I wanted to share this Radio 2 “Pause for Thought” on Judith Kerr’s book “The Tiger Who Came to Tea” and the way we welcome guests. Click here to hear the broadcast.

Also, let’s hope the longest day of the year isn’t the last of sunshiny days and balmy evenings. Click here for another “Pause for Thought” on that subject.

Rabbi Rebecca

Ed Balls Gala Dinner - Appeal


Rabbi Rebecca’s speech and appeal on the occasion of the Gala Dinner:

Thank you Ed Balls. Thank you Richard Greene and thank you my brilliant friend Erica Wax who persuaded Ed to come.

You might expect me to talk about the roof, which does needs replacing. And the fact we run out of space every Shabbat morning, and the fact our windows are tired and the red carpet needs refreshing. All of this is true. Our building is our temple and it requires our love.


But it is the relationships that make this community and that is why we must secure the future and health of this congregation.

I look around this room and over the 8 and a half years I have been with you I have learned so much about so many of your lives. Your illness, and losses some of them devastating and some easier to bear. The births of your children and the marking of their childhoods, I know who bounded up the steps of this Bimah and who needed more cajoling. I know who amongst you have wept here in this synagogue building and which of you have shared joy.

That is what I celebrate tonight that this is a community of deep connections. You have found your way here brought by parents or of your own volition. Motivated by loneliness, disappointment from other parts of the Jewish world or just where we are. The path of your life brought you to this threshold and as the conservative siddur describes’ it has been kind to straying feet’.


Our liberal synagogue has been a home and a haven for many of you, who needed to find such a welcoming and tolerant place and some who fell in love with the congregation as they arrived. Perhaps greeted by one of the 4 rabbis over its past 66 years. We are a unique community, our messy shul with a soul. The only Liberal Jewish synagogue from St Johns Wood to Southgate.

It is the stories of people here that necessitate us to raise funds to allow us to move forward purposely and generously. To teach children well, to keep our teens, train and develop our young people. Offer learning and intellectual debate for all of us , offer music to uplift the soul, reach out to you in times of sadness accompany you through all your milestones/ rites of passage. And act on behalf and with us all for a just society.

We have much more work to do. A community gives a sense of belonging, structure and connection. We might argue that we have never needed that as much as now.


The poet Raymund Carver wrote in his poem Fragments “And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth..

Finchley Progressive Synagogue tries hard to do that.

Please be generous.

Delving into Judaism - Starts Tuesday April 23

Delving into Judaism and Hebrew 8 Week Course Rabbi Rebecca’s Home, those asterisked are at FPS* Learning from 7.00 - 8.45pm. Each session stands alone but together they create a fuller and more integrated conversation about Judaism.

Tuesday 23 April ORDER

Understanding the Seder (order). The Exodus from Egypt has become leitmotif of Judaism. Unpacking and building on this central thread. How does Order connect to empathy?

Tuesday 7 May MEMORY

Jonathan Safran Foer suggests Jews have 6 not 5 senses, the sixth being memory. Iyar (this month) holds extra dates in the calendar added by the early State of Israel. These were unprecedented changes to Jewish tradition. Do we need them to remember?

Tuesday 21 May* CALENDAR

The Hebrew alongside the Gregorian. The time frame of a Jew.

Tuesday 4 June * TORAH

Both a pillar of being Jewish and a way of expressing Progressive values.

Tuesday 11 June WHO’S WHO

Denominations: The Jewish ‘Food Chain’. The wider community of Israel Klal Yisrael.

Tuesday 25 June MINYAN

Community at prayer. Why congregation matters. What we gather for? The rules and expectations of being community.

Tuesday 2 July* MAZAL TOV

Birth, Coming of Age and Commitment…Jewish rites of Passage: Why Mazal Tov matters.

Tuesday 9 July KADDISH

Jewish customs around death and what it brings to life.

Mozart: Spring Celebration - Friday 26 April

Mozart: Spring Celebration

Friday 26 April 2019, 7.00pm, in support of Music Fund (

Flautist Abigail Dolan joins a string trio to mark the end of Pesach with Mozart’s set of works that is among his most optimistic and energetic. Music Fund is a charity that collects unwanted musical instruments from European donors, repairs them, and sends them to music projects in countries in need or in conflict. It also trains and supports instrument repairers in those countries so that the instruments donated remain in good condition.

A short service followed by a concert. Please donate your un-used musical instrument or make a financial donation.

About Music Fund:

Currently the charity has active projects in 5 countries, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Morocco, Mozambique, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Instruments are donated at periodic collection events around Europe. The event on April 26th will be the next opportunity for London-based donors to give instruments, or make a financial contribution to the charity's work. All donors are informed once the instrument reaches its final destination. The organisation was founded in 2005, and its Patrons include Daniel Barenboim. It has so far collected and distributed more than 6000 instruments. A UK support-group exists with a website at The current UK chair, John Sloboda, welcomes enquiries (sloboda.john@gmail,com)

Programme: Mozart – Quartets in D Major KV 285, G major KV285a, A major KV298.

Abigail Dolan, flute
Hanna Tracz, violin
Diogo Ramos, viola
Joanna Twaddle, cello

Communal Seder - Saturday April 20 6pm

2018-03-31_210014_D75 FPS Seder.jpg

The FPS Communal Seder, led by Rabbi Rebecca Birk and Dean Staker, will be held on the evening of Saturday April 20th, starting at 6pm. You can download a booking form here - please complete and return to the FPS office as soon as possible.

Citizenship – Privilege, right or something in between?

Here is a message from Simon Rothstein at Liberal Judaism, about a panel event next week:

Dear Rabbis and Communities

I am writing as we have an important Liberal Judaism event coming up next week with a very strong panel and are keen to have as many members of our communities there as possible.

It takes place on Thursday 4 April at the Montagu Centre and is the latest in our Hot Potatoes series of events titled Citizenship – Privilege, right or something in between?

The panel includes Tasnime Akunjee (a criminal defence lawyer who represents Shamima Begum), Edie Friedman (the executive director and founder of JCORE), Satbir Singh (CEO of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) and our own senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich. The panel will be chaired by Charlotte Fischer of Citizens UK.

These events are specially designed so that perceptions are challenged, all ideas are heard with respect and questions from the audience are encouraged.

This latest one takes place from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Thursday 4 April. Tickets are just £5 and are available from

For those outside of London who can't physically attend we will be filming the event and putting it online.

Building bridges, not walls

Friday 8th March, 10-11.30am at FPS

More than 600 Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost loved ones are members of the Parents’ Circle-Families Forum (PCFF) and work across the divide for peace and reconciliation. Please join us for a conversation with forum members Bassam Aramin and Robi Damelin, who are visiting the UK to raise awareness of the bereaved Palestinians and Israelis who have chosen the path of reconciliation rather than retaliation.


Robi Damelin’s son David was shot by a Palestinian sniper in 2002. David was studying for an MA in the philosophy of education at Tel Aviv University and was an active member of the peace movement. Since 2003, Robi has been making use of her personal pain for reconciliation rather than revenge.

Bassam Aramin lost his 10 year-old daughter Abir in 2007 when she was shot in front of her school. He had struggled against the Israeli occupation since he was 13 years old and spent seven years in Israeli jails. He now devotes his time to the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and a non violent end to the occupation.

Admission free. To register, go to