Service times:
Erev Shabbat Services 6:45pm;
Shabbat Services 11:00am (coffee from 10:15am).
For more information on:
Membership email: membership@ljs.org
Religion School (Rimon) email: education@ljs.org
Arranging a funeral email: synagogue@ljs.org

Thought for the Week

  • Dear Members and Friends,The proposed name for the new Liberal Judaism Siddur (prayer book) is Shirah Chadashah ('A New Song'), a phrase that echoes the call of the Psalms and a verse in Isaiah to sing a 'new song' to the Eternal One.New prayer books...
  • Dear Members and Friends, On Sunday (7 January) Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes and delivered a moving speech. She shared her personal journey and included important messages of equal...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Here are the very first words in the Book of Exodus that refer to Moses, the great leader, law-giver and prophet: he is tov - 'good' or 'beautiful' as some translations describe him. The midrash says, this means that his...
  • Dear Members and Friends, A few months ago, eleven members of one family living in Lincolnshire were convicted of modern slavery and fraud. They held their victims in squalid conditions in caravans without running water or sanitation; they used food ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, On Wednesday, we marked our tenth Interfaith Chanukkah Celebration with friends from local communities and schools.  Speakers from the three charities we supported for our Yom Kippur Appeal - Jewish Volunteering Network, S...
  • Dear Members and Friends, At the heart of our celebration of Chanukkah, which begins on Tuesday evening 12th December, is the myth of the discovery of a small vial of oil that miraculously burned for eight days in the purified and rededicated Temple ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, 'Dinah, Leah's daughter whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land...' (Genesis 34:1) The story of Jacob's only daughter, Dinah is rarely chosen as a public Torah reading on Shabbat morning. Her...
  • Dear Members and Friends,  Reading the stories of some of the survivors and witnesses to the murder, extermination and persecution of civilians in the former Yugoslavia more than twenty years ago, one cannot help but be struck by the parallels with...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The story of our biblical ancestor, Jacob, and his twin brother Esau, begins in this week's Torah portion, Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9). We might expect Jacob, the man who will go on to become Israel, father of the Jewish pe...
  • Dear Members and Friends,There are those who say that the very first example of prayer in the Torah is Adam's response to God's 'Where are you?' in the Garden of Eden.  Others that it is Abraham's protest against the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra...
  • Dear Members and Friends, November sees two significant anniversaries relating to the State of Israel: the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2nd, 1917 and the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Partition Plan which recommended a p...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Nightingale House is a vast, 'state of the art' residential home in South London for those who can no longer live in their own homes. A plaque on the wall to one side of the sliding entrance doors states that 'Ted "Kid" Lew...
  • Dear Members and Friends, 'What's in a rainbow that makes it so magical, Linking the present to promises of old? Eyes seeking colours, hearts stretching far beyond the heavens, Dreams not forgotten, memories unfold.' So begins Debbie Friedma...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Tonight and tomorrow, we celebrate the festival of Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly and Simchat Torah, the Rejoicing of the Torah. We hope the congregation and its children will join us as the Sifrei Torah are take...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Rabbi Malcolm Cohen is the Rabbi of a thriving Reform synagogue in Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife and two children. I thought of Malcolm and Sarah, both graduates of the Movement for Reform Judaism Youth movement in ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,As Yom Kippur approaches, I am searching for something that will help me to root the deepest part of myself in this solemn and demanding day. There are many texts, many prayers - almost too many even for these People of the B...
  • Dear Members and Friends Just this last week, we have been feeling a nip in the air in the morning and the evening.  Long-sleeved clothing is coming out of storage, and some might have turned the heating back on for the first time in several mont...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The last Shabbat of the year is almost here. On Saturday night, we will gather together for Selichot, the service that helps us to prepare for the great festivals that lie ahead. It is here, in the silence, as night falls, ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,It is nine o'clock and day three of the new Autumn Term at Swiss Cottage School.   I am waiting in the foyer to meet the Principal, Chairman of the Governors and member of the Senior Leadership Team for a tour aroun...
  • Dear Members and Friends,I have sat at the bedside of many in the last hours of their lives and, at other times, arrived in the minutes after a death to sit with family, to say the words of our tradition - a Psalm, the Shema, words acknowledging the ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The savagery of white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th, the racists chants: 'You will not replace us!  Jews will not replace us!' was the shocking and sinister prelude to the bloody ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Once again, Europe is shaken by the news from Barcelona, a city traumatised by the violence of death and injury.  We are shocked and pained, helpless to combat this senseless loss of life in one of the most remarkable and bu...
  • Dear Members and Friends,          I am in awe of the cycle of the Jewish year, and its ability to lead us through the gamut of human emotions, to connect us with the cycle of nature, and our Jewish historical experiences.  This week is, I ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,There is a moment, leading the services on Erev Shabbat in the summer months, when the rays of the evening sun begin to play gently on the Jerusalem stone that lines the walls of our Sanctuary at the LJS.  We are a few souls...
  • Dear Members and Friends,My name is Charlie Gard.  I was born on 4th August, 2016 to my parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard.  My first birthday is quite soon.  My parents are obviously hoping that I'll still be here to celebrate that milestone.  ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Liberal Jews do not take kindly to the biblical figure of Pinchas.  It is not because of his high-ranking pedigree - he is the grandson of no less a figure than Aaron, the high priest; nor is it because it is Pinchas, servin...
  • Dear Members and Friends A week ago, Harry and I were in Rome, for our first visit to that spectacular city.  I spent the three and a half days we were there with my mouth open in amazement, and my mind boggled by its sights and wonders.  I felt...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends,"Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Children of Israel, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them" (Numbers 20:12).By this simple verse, G...
  • Dear Members and Friends,It is Monday afternoon and I am outside the North Kensington Library on Ladbroke Grove.  A sizeable crowd of people of all ages are spilling into the road from the pavement, waiting to join a silent walk to Bramley Road, nea...
  • Dear Members and Friends,There is a familiar and frightening litany of tragic events taking place, far too frequently, and far too close to home: a catastrophe of terrible magnitude, the announcement of those known to have died, those admitted to hos...
  • Dear Members and Friends,  I am writing this message just after going to our local polling station, to exercise my democratic right to vote in the General Election. While democracy may have been' invented' by the Greeks, some of the key values...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends, During my time as a guide with the "Mémorial de la Shoah" in Paris, I used to accompany groups to Auschwitz from Paris. We would fly early in the morning, and come back late in the evening. Once in Krakow, we would drive ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Outside, there is the distant sound of birdsong.  The garden is still in the early morning sunshine and under a flawless blue sky.  The flutter of leaves may betray a feathery presence in the bushes, while a jay skims the g...
  • Dear Members and Friends,In this week's double parashah of B'Har-B'Chukkotay - we encounter the laws of the fiftieth year - the Yovel or Jubilee Year.  This is the year, inaugurated by the sounding of the Shofar on Yom Kippur, when the land shall be...
  • Dear Members and Friends,I am standing in the kitchen with my son discussing the US President's firing of James Comey, now former Director of the FBI.  He asks me whether there is an example in the Bible of a king or leader who sacked his chief advi...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends, On Sunday 12 June, Liberal Jews from all over the country will gather in Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue for a Day of Celebration. The theme chosen for this year is: "Is Liberal Judaism Political Judaism?" It is in...
  • Dear Members and Friends, This Shabbat, nine delightful young women will be celebrating their Kabbalat Torah (KT).  The Torah reading for this Shabbat is the double portion of Tazria-Metzora, Leviticus 12:1 to 15:33.  One of the more challenging...
  • There is a tinge of sadness as we leave behind the festival of our freedom - the taste of those first exhilarating moments of unrestrained joy as we cross the Sea and step into the unknown.  Ahead of us is the wilderness, with its snakes and scorpio...
  • Dear Members and Friends,On the first morning of Pesach, we read the Torah's account of the first stage of the Israelites' journey from Egypt to Sukkot, the dough carried on their backs baked into flat unleavened cakes. This is followed by Moses' ins...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends The upcoming Shabbat is called "Shabbat Ha-Gadol", the "great" or "awesome" Shabbat, which immediately precedes Pesach. It derives its name from the special Haftarah read at this occasion, Malachi chapter 3, and particular...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The letter signed by Theresa May this week will certainly trigger Brexit, but it has not yet taken us out of the European Union. That won't happen until we leave. And when that happens, I hope that the foundations on ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, In Vayak'heil-Pekudey, next week's sedra, the Israelites are preparing their new Tabernacle. Here we read God's specific instructions to Moses about its prescribed materials - from its structure and exterior courtyards to th...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends, Last Sunday, during the drop-in centre for asylum seekers, I attended a talk given by Ben Wright, Rabbi Alexandra's son. He explained to our Kabbalat-Torah classes the differences between refugee, asylum seeker, and other ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Turning Purim into an occasion for an interfaith conversation - as we are doing this Saturday evening - with the sharing of Jewish and Muslim stories for an 'upside-down-world', may seem somewhat counter-intuitive.Of all th...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The combination of spending a week in New York with my daughter, while at the same time reading Philip Roth's prescient novel The Plot Against America, which re-imagines history by having the renowned aviation hero Charle...
  • Dear Members and Friends, This coming Shabbat, our morning service will be led by members of the synagogue Council. We will have the opportunity to show our appreciation and gratitude to them for their commitment and dedication to The LJS, and demons...
  • Dear Members and Friends, It was in some respects a difficult Drop-in last Sunday. A young woman came for the first time, a tiny baby of just seven weeks, nestled in her arms. The baby, dressed in a pale green, beautifully knitted matinée jacket,...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends, "There are four beginnings of the year [...] The first of Sh'vat is the new year for trees, according to the ruling of Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel, however, places it on the fifteenth of the month" (Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:...
  • Dear Members and Friends, In these last few days of January and early February, the sky louring and grey, the ground sodden, trees leafless, birds, chased by squirrels, pecking for wintry pickings in the garden, I am searching for something of be...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends, After much dithering, Moses, accompanied by Aaron, went to Pharaoh to ask him, "Let my people go that they may celebrate a festival [for the Eternal] in the desert" (Exodus 5:1). As a result, Pharaoh increased their wo...
  • Dear Members and Friends, This week, in the cycle of our Torah reading, we begin the book of Shemot, Exodus. In it, we read of the persecution and enslavement of the Israelites by a new Pharaoh, the rescue from the Nile of baby Moses by Pharaoh's...
  • Dear Members and Friends, It is always a privilege to sit on the Beit Din and encounter individuals from a variety of Liberal Judaism congregations who are taking the last formal steps of conversion to Judaism. Some have come to Judaism because of ...
  • Dear Members, Dear Friends, At the end of the 19th century, France was deeply divided, almost torn apart by what was called the "Dreyfus Affair". A high-ranking officer of the French army, who happened to be Jewish, was wrongly accused of selling ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Why do we celebrate Chanukkah for eight days? The Babylonian Talmud explains that it is on account of the vial of oil that was found when the Maccabees set about cleaning and rededicating the profaned Temple in Jerusalem...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The majority of those assembled in the circular prayer hall in the woodland section of Cheshunt Cemetery for the funeral of the late Rabbi Lionel Blue OBE, were Rabbis. Lionel was an only child, born in the East End in 1...
  • "Death is my Trade" is the English name of a French novel written by Robert Merle and first published in 1952. It is a fictional autobiography of Rudolf Lang, i.e. Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz. It starts with his childhood, a classic German...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Wildfires have been raging throughout parts of Israel over the past three days. Lack of rain and the dry atmosphere, strong winds, as well as possible neglect and arson have caused billowing flames to consume forests and...
  • Dear Members and Friends, This week is a week of sombre anniversaries: Kristallnacht - the Pogrom of 9 November 1938 when Nazi hoards across cities and towns in Germany and Austria desecrated, looted and burned over 1,200 synagogues, Jewish shops...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The story is told - perhaps true - that the revered tzaddik, Rabbi Aryeh Levine used to study each child on its way to the Etz Chayyim yeshiva every morning. One day, he invited his son, Raphael, to stand with him and watc...
  • Dear Members and Friends, 'When God began to create heaven and earth-- the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water-- God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light' ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, 'When God began to create heaven and earth-- the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water-- God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light' ...
  • Dear Members and FriendsOn Erev Sukkot, I erect my tiny Sukkah against the back wall of the house; the end 'wall' of the Sukkah is somewhat damaged and can scarcely support the roof. The rains batters its frail structure, it leans, but doesn't fall ...
  • Shabbat Mas'ei 1 Av 5776 Dear Members and Friends, Teams from all over the world have travelled to Rio de Janeiro in the past few weeks, for the 2016 Olympic Games, which begin this evening. We hope that the Games will take place with i...
  • Shabbat Mas'ei 23 Tamuz 5776 Dear Members and Friends, Twice this week I am called to recite prayers - first in the intensive care unit of a large hospital, where the ventilator is about to be removed from a gentleman who has had a sever...
  • Shabbat Pinchas 17 Tamuz 5776 Dear Members and Friends, On Wednesday, I watched Theresa May navigate her way through her first PMQs. I imagine it must have been a rather terrifying experience (and she looked mightily relieved when it wa...
  • Shabbat Balak 9 Tamuz 5776 Dear Members and Friends,This week at our monthly Rabbinic Conference meeting, Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu led a session on a book she has published together with her community, Kehillah North London. The book is calle...
  • Shabbat  Chukkat 3 Tamuz 5776  Dear Members and Friends,These are challenging, uncertain times, and nobody can foresee the impact of the recent referendum. I reckon it will take some time to measure the scope and gravity of this choice. My...
  • Shabbat Korach 26 Sivan 5776 Dear Members and Friends, The shocking massacre this week at Atatürk Airport, in which 41 people were killed and more than 200 injured, should put our own political troubles in some perspective. The magni...
  • Shabbat Sh'lach L'cha                    19 Sivan 5776 Dear Members and Friends,It is 6.40 am and pouring with rain as I arrive at the Polling Station in order to vote on the EU Referendum.  A woman, wearing a full length raincoat and ha...
  • Shabbat B'Ha-alot'cha 12 Sivan 5776  Dear Members and Friends,The Torah portion this week opens with the instruction to light the seven-branch candlestick, the menorah 'to give light at the front of the lampstand.'In the wake of the brutal...
  • Shabbat B'Ha-alot'cha - In the Desert Dear Members and Friends,In 1999, I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Africa, with my sister and brother-in-law, and my parents.  We spent a few days in Zimbabwe, followed by a memorable canoe t...
  • Shabbat Naso/Shavu'ot                      5 Sivan 5776 Dear Members and Friends,Today, walking through Queen Mary's Gardens in Regent's Park, with its collection of some 12,000 roses, I could ...
  • Shabbat B'midbar 27 Iyyar 5776 During my first year as a Student Rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, we spent a week in southern Israel, in Kibbutz Yahel, 60 miles North from Eilat. I remember this amazing hike in the desert nearby,...
  • Dear Members and Friends,'Trump': noun. '(In bridge, whist, and similar card games) a playing card of the suit chosen to rank above the others, which can win a trick where a card of a different suit has been led.  Phrasal verb: trump something u...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Visiting one of our members who is being cared for in a nursing home just off the Harrow Road this week, I stood by her window which overlooks an oasis of green, yellow and pink: a little garden that lies behind the dingy hou...
  • Shabbat Emor Dear Members and Friends, At our monthly meeting of Liberal Judaism Rabbis this week, one of my colleagues made a comment about the media having little interest in those with moderate views.  Unfortunately, sensationalism and ...
  • Shabbat Kedoshim   Dear Members and Friends,As I write this message, we are not entirely sure what the result of the mayoral elections will be. Is the next Mayor of London Labour? Tory? On Shabbat, we will have the answer. As a French, Europ...
  • Shabbat Acharei-MotDear Members and Friends,The government's defeat of Lord Alf Dubs' amendment to the immigration bill which, if passed, would have allowed 3,000 child refugees into the UK, is not simply a disappointment to those who have urged the ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,We are having a conversation about kitniyot in our house at the moment.  As well as the five grains - wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats - the chametz which is prohibited at Pesach - Ashkenazi tradition excludes the cons...
  • Dear Members and Friends, This week, from April 14th-17th, the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) is holding its Biennial Conference in London. 'Building Bridges' is the conference theme. The flyer for the Conference began with these ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, I once took a class with an Alsatian Rabbi on leshon ha'ra, evil-speech, or gossip. He was using the Chafetz Hayim, a book on Jewish ethics and laws of speech, written by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (b. in 1839). In some ci...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The Torah speaks of no sugar tax in its dietary laws. Instead, there are forty-seven verses in Leviticus (a further 18 in Deuteronomy) that prescribe exactly what is permitted and what is prohibited in the diet of the a...
  • Why was Purim deleted from the calendar by some of our early Liberal Jewish leaders? Apart from the absence of God in the Purim story, the devastation and slaughter that was wrought by the Jews on the Persians at the end - 75,000 killed - horrified ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Next week, as the festival of Purim draws to its merry end on Thursday evening, an odd spectacle will make its way slowly through the streets of Golders Green. Come 11.00 pm in the evening, or a little earlier (if the re...
  • Dear members and friends, My dearest friend and colleague, Rabbi Julia Gris from Odessa, with whom I shared five years of rabbinical studies, used to say: man makes plans, and God laughs. It was her very Russian way of dealing with the uncertainti...
  • Dear Members and Friends, The Torah portion this week describes the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the desert by the finest craftsmen and women among the Israelites. Inside the Mishkan, Bezalel, the chief artisan, creates the most ...
  • Dear Members and Friends, More than any other sedra in the Torah, parashat Ki Tissa reveals the wildly diverse challenges and deep existential loneliness of Moses as spiritual leader and lawgiver. From the administration of a census to overseeing...
  • Dear Members and Friends, What a strange winter we have had. Daffodils blooming in January, blossom on the trees in early February and, in our garden, the crocuses are already out, the camellia is flowering, as are our magnolia trees. We will h...
  • Dear Members and Friends, In his inaugural address, the newly elected US President, J.F. Kennedy, said: "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" (20 January 1961). One could apply these...
  • Dear Members and Friends, Two events this week encapsulate the pride and pain many of us feel when speaking and thinking about the leadership of the State of Israel. In a landmark decision on Sunday, the Israeli government voted to establish a new ...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Why is the parashah containing the Ten Commandments named after Moses' non-Israelite father-in-law, Yitro?  Why include in the great narrative of revelation the story of a family reunion, a meal and the father-in-law's couns...
  • Dear Members and Friends,It is in last week's portion, parashat Bo, that the elders of Israel are instructed to pick out lambs for their families and to slaughter the Passover offering.  They are to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood of...
  • Dear Members and Friends, On Sunday, Cathy Heller-Jones, our Director of Music, and I will be leading a Singing Workshop, Shiru Shir, 'sing a song'. Music is an international language.  It has the power to convey ideas and feelings, to break dow...
  • Dear Members and Friends,Last year, one of my teachers, Prof. Jean Christophe Attias, from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris published a book called "Moïse Fragile", Fragile Moses. Far from the military leader, or from the assertive Lawg...
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