Report on the LJ Biennial

On Friday 9th May 2014 I went to the Liberal Judaism Biennial with 15 other members of Nottingham Liberal Synagogue. We arrived at Wokefield Park Hotel in Reading and we settled into our rooms. On Friday evening we had a magnificent Friday night service which was a very musical based service which was brilliantly run by many of the different rabbis from different congregations. There then was a group meal which was very well attended and I met people from different communities from Finchley to Elstree. After our meal the youth group LJY Netzer ran an “Oneg Shabbat” which means joy of Shabbat and this was good fun and yet more socialising occurred.

On Saturday morning there was the option of going to three Saturday morning services which included the traditional service, alternative service lead by Rabbi Anna Gerrard and the Family service ran by LJY Netzer. I attended the family service which was brilliant and we joined the main service for the Torah reading where our own Rabbi Tanya Saknovich read the Torah portion. Typically she was word perfect!

We were then treated to an intriguing sermon from Rabbi Andrew Goldstein. The Keynote speech was given by Rabbi Jonah Pesner who is the Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism. He addressed the whole of the Biennial and left a lasting impression on everyone there. Rabbi Jonah Pesner also came and talked to the kids and interested them with a story about the parting of the sea.

The afternoon then consisted of some sessions which were run by different rabbis. I was lucky enough to attend a session by student Rabbi Leah Jordan talking about Israel and this really inspired me in wanting to go to Israel in the near future. From speaking to other people at the Biennial I heard there had also been interesting sessions about topics such as membership, music in services and also a session on the living wage by Charlotte Fischer.

After a brilliant afternoon we had a great three course meal and during the meal the Chairman’s Awards were given out to the people that have gone the extra mile in Liberal Judaism. Derrick Silk from Nottingham won one of these awards and being from Nottingham this made us all feel proud of our community. Rachael Mars then entertained the Biennial with her comedy. After this more socialising went on. After more sessions on Sunday, it was time to say goodbye to the friends I had made from around the country. For a first timer at the Biennial I had a brilliant time and I hope to come to many more in future years.

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