Liberal party tackles serious matters after general election


Topics ranging from the impact of the general election results to using faith as a force for good were discussed by an engaged audience of 250 at Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration.

Delegates from 32 English communities, plus Edinburgh and Copenhagen, took part in the programme at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue.

Key speakers included Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin — chaplain to both the Queen and the Speaker of the House of Commons — who challenged her audience to represent their faith by helping others and speaking up for the vulnerable. Such actions were more important than attending synagogue or church.

“It is better to live according to religion’s values than to preach religion on street corners,” she said. “When we live what our faith means, that is when we will change the world.”

Refugee campaigner Lord Dubs urged delegates to press politicians to do more to help those fleeing persecution.

“The Liberal Jewish community’s unswerving support of the rights of vulnerable children has been critical and impressive,” he noted. “Every child brought to safety is a victory for humanity.”

Lord Finkelstein, author David Hirsh, Board of Deputies’ chief executive Gillian Merron and Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, were among other contributors.

Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, said participants had approached the day with “thoughtfulness, inclusiveness and a determination to transform thinking and talking into practical ways of bringing Liberal Jewish values to our needful society”.

There were also activities for the younger crowd and Crouch End Chavurah was announced as winner of “the Laftas”, a short film competition for cheders.

The day was part of a weekend of events including a Kabbalat Shabbat at East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue and a celebration of Liberal Jewish music at NPLS.

After the programme’s conclusion, many delegates popped next door to Northwood Methodist Church to watch 2067 — Hard New World, a play  written by NPLS members with a cast featuring both shul and church congregants.

Rabbi Rebecca Birk, chair of the Day of Celebration organising committee, said: “Liberal Judaism has always been at the vanguard spiritually and ethically, punching well above our weight in the Jewish community and beyond.

“Today, 250 of us recognised the progress and tradition that animates our prayer, our learning, our music and our action.”

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