Move­ments are united in thanks­giv­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY LIFE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

BRI­TISH JEWRY’S cel­e­bra­tions of Is­rael’s 60th an­niver­sary en­tered a sec­ond week with a ser­vice of thanks­giv­ing in Lon­don on Sun­day hosted by five Re­form, Lib­eral and Ma­sorti con­gre­ga­tions.

The venue was the Lib­eral Jewish Syn­a­gogue, St John’s Wood, whose walls of Jerusalem stone were a con­crete sign of the links that have grown be­tween the once anti-Zion­ist Lib­er­als and the Jewish state.

LJS came to­gether with the West Lon­don, Bel­size Square, West­min­ster and New Lon­don syn­a­gogues to spon­sor the event, along with the Re­form and Lib­eral move­ments.

Eleven rab­bis of­fi­ci­ated and in­ter­faith prayers for peace were re­cited by Imam Dr Ad­bul­jalil Sa­jid of the Mus­lim Coun­cil for Re­li­gious and Racial Har­mony, and the Rev­erend El­iz­a­beth Grif­fiths of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafal­gar Square.

The guest speaker was Rabbi Michael Boy­den, for­merly of Cheshire Re­form Con­gre­ga­tion who made aliyah in 1985.

Dis­cussing Is­rael’s achieve­ments and chal­lenges, he said he had fallen in love with the coun­try as a vol­un­teer in 1967, but it was Ju­daism that led him to make it his home.

“How long could I say Lek­a­betz galuy­oteinu me’arba can­fot haaretz, ‘Gather in our ex­iles from the four cor­ners of the earth’, or how of­ten could I re­peat those words Le­shana habaah b’Yerusha­layim, ‘Next year may I be in Jerusalem’, and live some­where else?”

Is­rael, he re­flected, “is the only state in the world whose poli­cies and ac­tions are ob­ses­sively con­demned by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, and whose very right to ex­ist is con­stantly de­bated and chal­lenged not only by the Arab en­e­mies of Is­rael but also by large seg­ments of so-called ad­vanced opin­ion in the West­ern world.”

Rabbi Boy­den ded­i­cated his ad­dress to his son Yonatan, who was killed on ac­tive ser­vice in Le­banon 15 years ago.

Chil­dren as young as three from the LJS nurs­ery, other par­tic­i­pat­ing syn­a­gogues and the Akiva school in Finch­ley per­formed He­brew songs.

Talya Lador-Fresher, Is­rael Em­bassy deputy head of mis­sion, of­fered an idio­syn­cratic list of Is­rael’s top 10 achieve­ments — from Amos Oz’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and eight No­bel lau­re­ates to the Bamba snack and ping-pong on Tel Aviv beach — a sign of its de­sire to be “a nor­mal coun­try”.

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