15/16 January 2021, 2/3 Shevat 5781

My co-chair Rabbi Rene Pfertzel and I chaired our first CoLRaC this week; the monthly meeting of Liberal Clergy so essential to the activities of Liberal Judaism. There were several firsts; Rabbi Charley Baginsky CEO, and Shelley Shocolinsky-Dwyer shared their vision for Liberal Judaism for the next two years. They are looking towards a financially stable, vibrant and expansive movement that builds on partnerships with its congregations and the superb youth movement at its heart. It was an auspicious start to 2021, with the added request of rabbis taking part in a collective stance of encouraging the vaccine.

We heard also today that Gillian Merron, great friend of FPS will be stepping down from the Board of Deputies at the start of April. As the BOD is a non political organisation, her recent elevation to the House of Lords as a Labour Peer presents a conflict. So Gillian, after six years in post, will step down. I am sure you will all join me in warm congratulations to her and gratitude for her time at the helm of the Board of Deputies and the important work she did there.

These past ten months have demanded such close attention to our own members and the structures within our community, it is a nice moment to recognise our place within Liberal Judaism and indeed British Jewry. We have much to appreciate.

I couldn’t be prouder of Gillian, or more hopeful for this new period for Liberal Judaism where Rene and I hope to play our part in leadership and collaboration. This week’s Haftarah from Ezekiel finishes with the words from God to Moses about his role with the Israelites: I will give you courage to speak in their midst. Then shall they know that I am the Eternal. (29:21)

Let’s hope for the elevation of our voices and LJ going from strength to strength.

Shabbat Shalom to all,