York Liberal Jewish Community held a Shabbat morning service on Saturday 19 November 2016 in the presence of His Worship, The Lord Mayor, Councillor Dave Taylor and his partner Susan Ridley, the Lady Mayoress, as well as Mr Jonathan Tyler, Sheriff of York, and the Sheriff’s lady, Mrs Brenda Tyler.
Last year’s Interfaith Service was such a success that the Community decided to hold it this year in a larger venue. Their expectations were not disappointed as 80 people attended this year’s event in the Lower School Hall at All Saint’s School in the city centre.
A goal of Interfaith Week nationally is to celebrate diversity and commonality and this shabbat service provided an excellent example of this, with members of the civil leadership, Quaker, Christian and Jewish communities taking part.
Ben Rich, chair of the York Liberal Jewish Community, explained, “Co-operation between faith communities is key to Liberal Judaism’s commitment to being a part of, and not separate from, the world around us. Liberal Judaism makes a point of always being involved in the most crucial debates about interfaith issues, both on the national and local level. We were delighted to host the event today.”
For Lord Mayor, Councillor Dave Taylor, it was a very interesting experience: “I’ve been to Prague and visited various Jewish cemeteries and memorials, but this was the first time I have attended a Jewish service of any kind. What really struck me about today was hearing the story about the Czech scrolls,” he said.
The weekly reading from the five books of Moses, scribed in Hebrew by hand on a Jewish Torah scroll, was read from a Czech scroll which had been rescued from Holocaust in the aftermath of the Nazi persecution. Number 804 of nearly 1600 such scrolls, it has been loaned to the York community by the Memorial Scrolls Trust. Its full history was recounted at the service by Ben Rich, Chair of the York Liberal Jewish Community.
Margaret, a Quaker Friend who has visited Palestinian Christians on their farm outside Bethlehem but who had also never been to a Jewish service before, said: “I loved it!”
The Canon Chancellor of York Minster, Rev. Dr. Chris Collingwood, another invited guest, described the service led by Student Rabbi Deborah Blausten, as “A wonderful experience.”
The highlight for many today was the welcoming ceremony for member of the community, Sinan Nuuman, whose family has been at the heart of the York Jewish Liberal Community since it held its first services in June 2014.
Vice-Chair, Lilian Coulson commented, “We are so pleased that so many of those invited were able to join us, despite so many other Interfaith events taking place elsewhere in the City. We were honoured to receive personal best wishes from the Archbishop of York and delighted that those who attended took the time to join us for lunch and to chat at the end of the service. We hope to welcome our visitors back at any time should they wish to join us again for another Shabbat service.”