Yom Masorti 2016
By Masorti Judaism
Yom Masorti 2016 attracted a diverse range of speakers and attendees
More than 200 people from across Masorti Judaism’s 15 UK communities as well as a number of Jewish, political, charitable and media organisations came together for a day of learning, culture and fun at Yom Masorti, held on 21st February 2016 at the New North London Synagogue.
The unique flagship event boasted a wide range of session topics from the more conventional prayer and halacha to the lesser discussed gender and sexuality to the more unusual role of the gabbai. The sessions were led by numerous senior and long-standing Masorti figures including Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, New London Synagogue Rabbi Jeremy Gordon and Chazan Jaclyn Chernett, as well as community members and representatives from external organisations.
Among the exciting and diverse line-up of speakers was Director of the UK Task Force Toni Rickenback, who discussed diversity in the Knesset. Toni said: “Masorti Judaism is a member of our coalition and attending Yom Masorti was an opportunity for us to raise awareness about issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel. The questions and conversations about Arab representation in the Knesset, and more widely in Israeli society, were engaging and positive.”
Director of human rights charity Rene Cassin Mia Hasenson-Gross said of the session she ran: “Speaking about the issue of indefinite detention in the UK and ‘what’s Jewish about it’ at Yom Masorti was meaningful as it enabled us to interact with a group of people who are committed to creating positive social change within their movement and the wider British society.”
Masorti Judaism Chief Executive Matt Plen chaired an education panel which included Head of the UJIA Centre for Israel Engagement Robin Moss, Head Teacher of Alma Primary Marc Shoffren and Rabbi Rebecca Birk of Finchley Progressive Synagogue. The panel debated whether Jewish schools are needed for a Jewish education. Audience member Rene Anisfeld from Hampstead Garden Suburb United Synagogue commented: “The panel were excellent and represented a broad and relevant selection of the Jewish community. It was a stimulating and inspirational debate, we really enjoyed it.”
Other sessions were run by BBC Radio journalists Sarah Peters and Alan Dein, who brought the East End’s Oldhill Street to life, and Director of Strategic Engagement at New Israel Fund UK Kalela Lancaster, who debated the hot topics of Israeli human rights NGOs and the meaning of Israeli democracy.
Culture featured high on the Yom Masorti agenda with a number of literature and music-based sessions, plus a live cookery demonstration of Middle Eastern recipes by author Nina Mellman.
A full children’s programme was run by the experienced Noam Masorti Youth team which meant the younger attendees were entertained throughout the day by activities which included beatboxing and circus skills.
Chief Executive Matt Plen said, “This is an exciting year for Masorti Judaism with membership on the increase, new communities in Bristol and Liverpool, two newly ordained rabbis, Roni Tabick and Oliver Joseph, and our young adults and youth organisations, Marom and Noam Masorti Youth, going from strength to strength.
“Our movement’s energy and momentum was reflected in the Yom Masorti programme and it proved to be a lively and enriching day for everyone who took part.”