Progressives make cash call to fund expanding work


In the barmitzvah year of its patrons dinner, Liberal Judaism has appealed for more gifts from supporters so it can expand its work.

Addressing the 120 guests at the House of Lords venue, Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism’s chief executive, thanked its “constant supporters” for helping to reinvigorate the movement through social justice campaigns, the appointment of a Progressive student chaplain and the creation of 10 new communities in a decade.

“Liberal Judaism will take its values and practices to any region of the United Kingdom, from Edinburgh in the north to Wessex in the south; from Suffolk in the east to Gloucestershire in the west.” He recalled that in February, 120 Liberal Jews from Nottingham northwards gathered in York to form the Liberal Judaism Northern Alliance.

“Rashly, perhaps, I promised that our first new venture would be a part-time northern development worker to prepare the ground for our first full-time rabbinic appointment in the region in three years or so.

 “The cost of the part-time worker is £20,000 per annum and a full-time rabbi some £45,000 per annum. Help me fulfil my rash promise.”

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, the movement’s director of strategy and partnerships, said after the dinner that it had decided to adopt a more aggressive approach to fundraising.

The financial levels for gold, silver and bronze patrons had been increased for the first time in 10 years to £25,000, £10,000 and £4,000 respectively. A new £1,000 category has been introduced for young patrons, targeting, among others, graduates of its youth network LJY-Netzer.

A major fundraising concert will be held in November and the movement will also encouraging smaller donations, such as one-off gifts to mark life cycle events.

“We have wonderful patrons who have stayed loyal,” Rabbi Baginsky said. “But we need new people.

“The idea is not to employ a load of admin staff but to continue the great work we are are doing and open more doors.”

As well as outreach activities, the movement was keen to devote increased resources to “keeping communities healthy and dynamic”.

Other specific examples of donations which would allow Liberal Judaism to maintain and expand its activities were listed on a pledge card distributed to dinner guests. A £2,000 donation would fund a place for a young person on an LJY-Netzer Israel tour; £500 would allow a member of a small community without a minister to attend the movement’s “service leading course”.

Smaller gifts would fund prayer books for small communities or support a campus visit by the student chaplain.

Nicola Nathan, the patrons’ chair, addressed the dinner on what Liberal Judaism means to her and the guest speaker was poet David Harsent.

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