It’s another glorious summer morning and I’m writing this on the train to Cambridge admiring the fertile fenland countryside beneath a cloudless sky. Top tip: if you sit on the right-hand side, you have uninterrupted views of the RSPB’s reserve at Lakenheath Fen, as well as the best view of Ely Cathedral.
In June, I represented NLJC at the annual City Service at Norwich Cathedral. Many of you will know Marian Prinsley, who currently holds the ceremonial oﬃce of Sherif of Norwich. The ceremony was accompanied by a wonderful sense of pageantry.
Civic and religious dignitaries as well as representatives from the legal and education professions, all sweltering in their robes, processed from the City Hall to the cathedral in their pomp and finery. I found myself talking to the Bishop of Lulea in northern Sweden – the diocese of Norwich is twinned Lulea.
We followed them, accompanied by puppeteers and dragons! The reading from The Book of Kings was chanted in Hebrew by Peter Prinsley. This was followed by the address by the Dean of Bristol, the Very Reverend David Hoyle. He is an accomplished, amusing orator whose message was clear and inspiring.
He asked us in these times of doubt and growing tension, to stand up for the values of tolerance and understanding, of respect for others and their beliefs, and above all, to extend dignity to all including those experiencing hardship. It was a message that we as Liberal Jews would have no problem in endorsing. I felt privileged to be there.
This year’s Martin Buber lecture, organised by the CCJ, was similarly inspirational and up-lifting. Jonathan Wittenberg, the Senior Rabbi for Masorti Judaism in this country, read excerpts from his book, ‘Things my dog has taught me’. He is a determined advocate for conserving our environment and being responsible custodians of our planet – he is a co-founder of Eco-Synagogue. Food for thought for NLJC? As he says in the blurb to his book, ‘I needed to set down my abhorrence of cruelty and the urgent importance of understanding that we have a God-given responsibility to care for animals and nature with respect and humility.’
After our September service, we are delighted to welcome a guest speaker, Debra Bruner, from The Together Plan. One of our members, Stephen Haire, has been fundraising for this charity. Its mission is to help isolated Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe learn skills for self-development. The Together Plan (https:// thetogetherplan.com) has just become a member of the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Heritage (https://www.jewisheritage.org/web/) and is now building a Jewish Route through Belarus. It promises to be a fascinating talk and I would strongly encourage you to come along and find out more about the work they are doing.
And on 4 July, I attended a multi-faith symposium coordinated by the Norfolk and Suﬀolk children’s and adults’ safeguarding boards. Representatives from the Bahá’í, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Jewish faith communities talked candidly about the safeguarding concerns they face and how they deal with them. Many of you will know that we have a Care Committee to support members who are unwell or who are facing diﬃculties and I am NLJC’s designated safeguarding lead. There is information about how to report a concern at the end of this newsletter.
And finally… by the time you read this, Gershon will have been ordained a Rabbi at the West London Synagogue on Sunday 7 July. I know you will wish to share with me in wishing Gershon a hearty mazel tov on this auspicious occasion. I look forward to seeing you on 13 July.