Is “Progressive Judaism Political Judaism ” was the theme for the movements’s day of celebration held LAST Sunday. By the end of the day there was no doubting the day was political. Whether it had much to do with Judaism is another matter.
Like Corbyn’s adoring group of ” Momentum” followers Liberal Judaism has an attraction all of its own. Delegates came from as far away as Exeter in the West through to Edinburgh and Copenhagen in the North to attend a day of celebration and learning at Northwood Liberal synagogue. Though there were some young faces in the 250 strong crowd the majority were the now grey haired 60’s and 70’s generation, and they had not lost that new age energy.
The day was started off by an address FROM the movement’s chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich. he quickly told us the dangers of trying to guess the future because as Liberal Jews we do not believe in prophesy. At a previous discussion I had learned we were not hot on Angels either . Infact there was little about God on the agenda.But it would be wrong of me to be presumptuous and try and explain why.
My choice for the morning seminar was entitled “50 years of occupation- a critical look at land for peace ” It perhaps should have been called something like “Fifty years since the six day war.Where are we now.” But that I think this would have been too balanced for the Yachad moderator. Yachad is a group which designates its self Zionist . But I see it as Zionist in much the same way as a cat pleading to play with the families pet bird. The bird and myself were not far off base.The moderator was happy to let people make statements which literally compared Zionism to racism without contradiction. Frankly at such a gathering it took my breath away.
Palestinian obduracy was described by the moderator as ” just negotiating tactics,” while any hard line Jewish statements presented in the seminar were he assured us the true face of their Israeli authors.. I later spoke briefly to Rabbi Charley Baginsky who is in the process of setting up an Israel desk for the movement.I wished her good luck and made my opinion clear she would need it.
The days two main speakers were the Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin who has served both as the Queen’s and the Speakers Chaplin, and Lord Alf Dubbs. Both alone were worth the attendance fee. By the end of the day it was clear there was no a good cause that Liberal Judaism would not adopt and no bandwagon it would not jump on. Never mind the effects on both Jews and the wider society. But its so easy to get caught up in the fervour. I have personally donated to my synagogue’s refugees appeal despite having read a German Opinion poll which showed 53% of those given asylum admitted to having deep antagonism towards Jews.
However it was a fascinating day and I would not have swapped it for the world.Liberal Judaism in action is like The Guardian newspaper on steroids. For all those who support the Guardian’s view of the world this is the movement for them. Intellectually its almost a pity to keep it for Jews alone. But on the contrary its also the best place for those who want to fight such PC ideas held to its bosom by the Guardian and the bourgeois middle class who support it.. The bottom line is no one does fairness and justice like Liberal Jews. As for God. That is another story.