Aaron Goldstein

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue

Progressive Judaism’s weekly opinion column

By Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

It took 10 plagues to eventually persuade Pharoah to let the Israelites leave their bondage in Egypt and more than a decade since Liberal Judaism and its rabbis began the process of working towards equal marriage.

This past Saturday saw the first marriage ceremonies take place for gay and lesbian couples in England. I am honoured to have been part of the process to enable them.

In my own community, the likelihood that I will be asked to perform a chuppah in the near future for a gay or lesbian couple where both parties are Jewish is not so great. But that was not the point. The right is now there for the individual, irrespective of their sexuality.

Some campaigns demand emergency action, such as the funds that my synagogue and many others have sent to the Jewish communities of Ukraine and, in particular, Crimea.

Yet others are slow-burners, where it demands both vision and perseverance to secure a long-term good or ensure the safety and security of individuals or groups in society.

Despite the clear warnings in wider society, the Jewish community has sometimes been slow to act on issues that probably will affect us, just not as immediately as others in society. We have been relatively slow to act on supporting food banks and now to campaign against the need for them.

The churches have led the way, perhaps because their congregants were more immediately and directly affected? Many modern concepts of justice are derived from the Torah: Are we not concerned that the right to access justice will be taken from many if Legal Aid cuts are realised just because we might be able to afford a lawyer?

As we approach Pesach, the season of our freedom, what will you be discussing at your seder table? Hopefully the family, but not only the family.

What will be the issues that you raise that might bring or maintain freedom, either those that demand immediate action or those where you perceive the need in future years? Do not say: “Next year in Jerusalem, we might discuss it.”

 Aaron Goldstein is rabbi of Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue