21/22 April 2023, 1 Iyyar 5783

As we continue on the journey of counting the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot, I’m very aware of progress and moving forward. Every year it is the same but different, as it reflects the new generation and times we live in. Liberal Judaism has this week announced a new collaboration with the Movement of Reform Judaism that will see, in time, the creation of a new Progressive Movement.  It is a moment that has been a long time coming and will put us in line with other countries, notably the U.S and Israel. We will be stronger and be able to create more influence and effect. It is a remarkable achievement and one that our own Rabbi John Rayner z’l prophesied all those years ago to increase and strengthen the progressive Jewish voice. As always, it is the detail that will be important and as Co-Chair of COLRAC, I have been part of the thinking and articulating of what comes next.

We are exceedingly fortunate to have our movement led by Rabbi Charley Baginsky, who is clear about the culture of Liberal Judaism being preserved and the way we both respect and are audacious with tradition. Our President Rabbi Alexandra Wright writes:

Liberal Judaism is in a strong position because of our rabbinic leaders and this has given us the confidence to be able to exert a special kind of leadership and role in British-Jewry.

Updates and news will be shared regularly over the next 18 months or so as this idea becomes a reality. It will move slowly and carefully, safeguarding all that we hold dear including our LJY Netzer camps etc. But transparency and collaboration is the way forward. This week, I got to tell our news to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey at the launch of the Big Lunch.

We will be sharing updates and news over the next 18 months or so as this idea becomes a reality. We will be having an information evening at FPS very soon.

It seems most appropriate we are thinking of ourselves during the week that marks Yom HaShoah and we look back vertically to our history as well as exercising our horizontal connections in our Shabbat trip to a sister synagogue in Brighton. I do hope you are thinking of joining us. Several of us will be taking the train from London Bridge 9.15am Saturday morning and Sam King will drive with spaces in her car, as will Bobbie Hood. Do let Caroline in the office know which way you will be travelling and/or Sam King if you require a spot in the car. This is a much anticipated FPS outing and an opportunity to see Jewish Brighton. I look forward to sharing it with you and to our Yom Hashoah commemoration where our Kabbalat Torah class will introduce Joan Salter and her story of occupation and arrival here in the UK. Every story, every testimony adds to our sense of memorial and witness.

In our invitation and responsibility to listen to Joan, I’m reminded of the verse from Pirkei Avot which Rabbi Rene Pfertzel and I will begin on Wednesday evening:

Yose ben Yoezer used to say [learning from Shimon the Righteous]: let thy house be a house of meeting for the Sages and sit in the very dust of their feet, and drink in their words with thirst. 

I look forward to drinking it all in with you.

Rabbi Rebecca