A message for Rosh Hashanah

I can't believe we are here already embarking on our High Holydays. https://www.liberaljudaism.org/2019/09/rosh-hashanah-messages-2019-5780/

I received an email this week from the School of Life promising to Overhaul Your Emotional Life in 5 Days.

We don't need such a crash course in emotional intelligence when we have Rosh Hashanah and the ensuing ten days to Yom Kippur. How fortunate we are to have this moment to reboot, refresh and redirect ourselves. From the shehechyanu blessing; we are grateful to the one who has kept us alive, kept us upright us and allowed us to arrive at the this New Year of 5780. I hope struggles of the past year find resolution, and if they don’t, I hope you find the strength and blessing to move into the New Year with ease. For those coming to services I look forward to sharing them with you. For those I won't see I wish you and everyone a good and a sweet year ahead.

Shanah Tova Umetukah
Rabbi Rebecca Birk

Walk Into the New Year.jpg

Kayitz 5779

A report from Ruben Qassim:

I visited my first death camp this summer: Jasenovc, in Croatia. What I saw and learnt there will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am sure I can say the same for other teenagers who went on LJY Netzer’s Kayitz to Serbia, Austria and Croatia this summer.

Kayitz 2019.PNG

The focus of our trip, led by student rabbi Gabriel Webber, was the richness of Jewish life in these countries before the Holocaust, and it is fair to say I learned even more about Jewish life than I have on previous LJY Netzer trips. In Sarajevo, I was particularly struck how the city’s mosque was situated directly next to a church and synagogue.

LJY Netzer has been central to my life since I went on my first trip at the age of nine. Next year, I lead on Kadimah, and I can’t wait. Lauren Keiles and Nina Morris-Evans, the  brilliant madrichot on this trip, have shown me how it should be done!

Kayitz 5779 Ruben Qassim

Israel Tour 2019

A report about the 2019 tour by Rebekah Treganna:

FPS members Jesse Neumann, Chloe Grossmith-Dwek and Rebekah Treganna.

FPS members Jesse Neumann, Chloe Grossmith-Dwek and Rebekah Treganna.

After a brutal year of GCSE preparation, I was overjoyed to finally arrive at the airport ready for what had been promised to be the trip of a lifetime - and it was.

Spending almost a month in Israel with 42 other 16 year olds, and our 5 incredible madrichim, was a truly unique experience. We toured all over the country learning all about the different groups in Israeli society from their own firsthand accounts: Charedim, the Druze community, Ethiopian Jews, the LGBTQ+ community, the Bedouin, and Palestinians.

We did not shy away from difficult conversations about reform Zionism and the Israel-Palestine conflict, which illuminated new ways of thinking for all of us, and challenged our existing ideas about our relationship with Israel as Liberal Jews. Our political education did not stop there, as we quizzed Nathan Jeffay on geopolitics and spoke with Women of the Wall about the Orthodox Monopoly over Israeli-Jewish life. LJY's four pillars (Tikkun Olam, Youth Empowerment, Liberal Judaism, and Reform Zionism) were incorporated into everything we did, ensuring our trip was filled with chances to live out the ideology we so often discussed.

However, it was not all education. Aqua Kef, rafting on the Jordan, beach time, floating in the Dead Sea, and countless water hikes cooled us off from the hot Israeli sun (which reached 43 degrees on some days!) and free time in markets allowed us to get to know our surroundings well. A particular highlight for me was camel riding in the desert, followed by hiking Masada before sunrise the following morning - while incredibly tiring (and sweaty), it is definitely a memory I will never forget.

Each of us developed our spiritual and religious Jewish identity, visiting the Western Wall and even leading our own services on the final shabbat of Tour. We also got the chance to live out iconic LJY experiences - staying at the much-loved Kibbutz Lotan and grabbing Netzer merch at the headquarters of the WUPJ! But perhaps the most incredible part of tour was the strong bonds of friendships we all made, which I know will last a lifetime.

I can't wait to continue my LJY journey.


Celebrations at FPS

Celebration at the FPS office for Zoe and Rebecca's birthdays, and Rebecca's 18th anniversary of becoming a rabbi.

Celebration at the FPS office for Zoe and Rebecca's birthdays, and Rebecca's 18th anniversary of becoming a rabbi.

We wanted to wish Rabbi Rebecca a huge mazel tov on celebrating the 18th anniversary of becoming a rabbi. We are so fortunate to have her - she really does makes every congregant and visitor feel welcome and included. She has the rare ability in leading our services to help us reflect on Torah and make sense of the wider world with her great insight and thoughtful commentary while helping us to forge strong lasting relationships both inside and outside of our community. We wish Rebecca many more years (with us!) to come.

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