LIBERAL JUDAISM is set to become “less polite and more pushy” about its achievements in its efforts to reach both Jews and non-jews. The commitment was made by chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich to the movement’s biennial conference in Gloucestershire at the weekend, attended by more than 260 members.
Leaders aim to convey Liberal Jewish values and practices with greater clarity across its 35 communities and to have a louder voice in wider forums.
“We have to stop being apologetic,” Rabbi Rich told delegates. “We have to stop looking over our shoulders. We have to remember that we’ve got 200 years of Progressive Jewish practices behind us. We’ve got 110 years of Liberal Jewish ideology backing us up. We’ve got inspiring rabbis and teachers, we’ve got creative and hard-working lay leaders and volunteers.
“Most important of all, we need to bring our values to those men and women — Jew and non-jew alike — who have yet to find a spiritual communal home which combines their concern for society with their desire for belonging.”
After the conference, Finchley Progressive Synagogue’s Rabbi Rebecca Birk said it was “energising, inspiring and reassuring that Liberal Judaism has an eye to the future, a creative take on thoughtful Liberal engagement and a keen commitment to traditional study and sources”.
Bristol and West Progressive member Zara Tobias came away “more informed about Liberal Judaism. I met a lot of new people and I now feel surer of myself as a Liberal Jew and more confident in talking to people about Liberal Judaism.”
Manchester Liberal treasurer Phyllis Alden said the event had helped her “to feel part of a big group. It reminded me that even coming, as I do, from a small community, there are a lot of likeminded people out there. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops — particularly the one on leyning.”
For Wessex Liberal chair Gillian Dawson, the conference made her think about “the practicalities of having a genuinely inclusive community — as Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah said in her workshop, ‘to focus on the people who might feel themselves on the margins’”.