More than 70 supporters and donors of Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism came together to celebrate the end of Chanukah at a special candle lighting evening in central London.
Rabbis Josh Levy and Charley Baginsky, the CEOs of the two movements and Co-Leads of the project to create one Progressive Judaism, hosted the event at Kapara Restaurant. They spoke of their total commitment to help build this new Progressive movement in the UK, and why ongoing support is vital for their plans.
Rabbi Josh said: “Since our two movements started working together, we are already in places we wouldn’t have been otherwise. We are speaking with a clear and different kind of Jewish voice.
“One that is making a difference. We look at the story of Chanukah and while we are grateful for the wonders of the past, we are also grateful for the wonders of this time as well. And we’re grateful for the ability to make wonders happen in the future.”
Rabbi Charley added: “We want to be a force for good in the world. To play an active role in shaping a society that reflects our Jewish values.
“We want to strengthen Jewish life in the country so that it is rich, inclusive, innovative, and can thrive. And we want the generations to come after us to enjoy a Progressive Jewish life with striving communities and a strong public voice.”
Dr Ed Kessler MBE, the Chair of the Progressive Judaism Advisory Board, spoke of the historic nature of what is taking place.
He said: “This is the most significant change in the history of Anglo Jewry since the end of the Second World War.
“I see this Chanukah event as the first event of Progressive Judaism. We represent 30% of Anglo-Jewry. We now stand under one umbrella and have a new voice at this challenging time.
“We have faced great challenges before and if we work alongside each other we can create a movement that has dynamism, and energy, combining the best practices of Liberal and Reform Judaism. Our country needs our message.”
Director of Fundraising Amit Handelsman said: “Strengthening our communities has to be our focus and we’re humbled by the generous backing we receive which is key to our ambition of unifying our Progressive voice in the UK.”
The Chanukah candles were lit by Rabbi Rebecca Birk (top picture) and the event ended with speeches of sincere thanks from Paul Langsford and Karen Newman, the respective Chairs of Reform and Liberal Judaism.
Guests included Head of Counter Terrorism Policing Matt Jukes.