It is a privilege and real pleasure to be part of the shared leadership of our Movement. I would like to share some of my recent work, alongside our rabbis, lay members and professional staff. No two days are the same but one thing is constant; our voice and our Reform values are being heard more than ever, making an impact nationally and internationally, in the Jewish world and beyond.
Last month I greatly enjoyed teaching at Limmud, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of British Jewish life. It is a fantastic opportunity to engage with people from across the Jewish community and our rabbis, educators and community members were well-represented. I especially valued the chance to meet with so many young adults. A highlight was giving a JDOV talk alongside such speakers as the Israeli Ambassador, Daniel Taub. JDOV is the Jewish equivalent of TED talks, an opportunity for ‘inspiring speakers give the Jewish talk of their life’ and my talk will be on the JDOV website next week . In this key session I discussed the proper use of religious power. It was warmly received and there was extensive coverage in the Jewish press.
The educational theme continued as I returned to my alma mater, Trinity Hall Cambridge, to give the key note speech at the Cambridge Coexist Leadership Programme. The programme offers senior clerical and lay leaders from Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities training and development, connecting and sharing with one another across faith boundaries.
Another important opportunity for interfaith dialogue in action, such a vital part of our Movement’s work, was the recent meeting of presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews at Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby hosted the meeting which I attended alongside fellow CJC Presidents including the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the Orthodox Chief Rabbi. We had a convivial, thoughtful and engaging meeting where we discussed practical and important issues affecting the lives of Jews and Christians in Britain and decided to take a more active role in responding to issues that concern us.
Earlier this month, I addressed the plenary session of the Board of Deputies. The Board is incredibly important to us all and I’d like to pay tribute to the work of our elected deputies who do such a wonderful job representing the Movement and our communities. It is right that we ensure our voice is part of the national Jewish debate. The address buyzithromaxonlinemed.com spoke to the entire Jewish community, transcending movements, setting out a vision of how we can nurture Jewish life in times of enormous change.
In the words of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, “wherever I go, I am always going to Israel”. It is always a joy to return to my other homeland, all the more so when I get to meet with the participants of RSY-Netzer’s wonderful Shnat gap year programme, which I did last week. They are thriving and benefitting enormously from their experience in Carmiel. They head off for the Jerusalem section of their programme next week. Israel is at the heart of Jewish life and it is enormously encouraging to see our young people so actively engaging with all aspects of this challenging and inspiring place.
It has also been a time for farewells and welcomes. It was an honour to give the sermon at a special Shabbat service held to mark the retirement of Rabbi Sybil Sheridan from Wimbledon Reform Synagogue and to officiate at the induction of Rabbi Jason Holtz at Bromley Reform Synagogue. Our Movement is blessed with a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight from our rabbis; paying tribute to them and marking special occasions such as these is a very special part of my work.
This month saw Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations take place across the country. I gave the address and led prayers at the London Assembly’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony alongside London Mayor Boris Johnson. It was a deeply moving occasion. I spoke of my ancestral roots in Lithuania and the presence of survivors of the genocide in Rwanda reminded me that whilst we might utter the words ‘never again’, such horrors are all too common in human history. I was also in Glasgow to conduct the Reform community’s Holocaust Memorial Day Civic Service there, attended by clergy and political figures as well as representatives from other Jewish, civic and interfaith organisations across the city.
It is two years since I started working for the Movement and I can honestly say that I love and appreciate the blessing of working in an ideological workspace that is impacting on our communities, our members and also, I believe on how Reform Judaism is perceived throughout the wider Jewish community and Britain as a whole.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me about any concerns or ideas you have to take our vision forward: firstname.lastname@example.org.