LBC Students in Paris Shabbaton

LBC student rabbis Dr Rachel Berkson, Emily Carp, Andrea Kulikovsky, Shulamit Morris Evans, Dr Jennifer Verson and Yael Tischler attended a Shabbaton in Paris at the Communauté Juive Libérale (CJL) 1 – 3 March 2024. They were accompanied by Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, Dean and Director of Jewish Studies at LBC, who delivered a sermon in French at the Erev Shabbat service. (The English text can be found here.)

Students at the rabbinical school based at CJL, ERP (École Rabbinique de Paris), joined the British students for an Oneg Shabbat on Friday night and an afternoon on Shabbat sharing a discussion on key French and British Jewish philosophers.

Rabbi Dr Middleburgh said: “it was wonderful building connections with our Paris counterparts, made even more special by the fact that both rabbis at CJL are alumni of LBC. We look forward to building relationships further in the years to come.”

Rabbi Étienne Kerber from the CJL in Paris, who was ordained at LBC in 2021, said:

“This shabbaton was a transformative experience. All that we have shared will stay in our hearts forever. In one weekend, we have dramatically increased the level of capacity for cooperation of the British and French progressive communities for the next 50 years.  100% of this success is due to the fact that both the LBC and ERP students are amazing human beings who really care about what they are doing.

Eventually, the program we put in place helped a little too! It was organized in order to enable the future leaders of the Jewish community to understand what’s going on in the British and French communities. We created a program which allowed us to exchange in terms of liturgy, sociology, history and philosophy. It was an exquisite experience to study the writings of Rabbis Rayner, Blue and Shulman alongside the writings of Levinas, Neher and Amado Levi-Valensy. And to let the LBC students discover how much Sefardi and Ashkénazi cultures make one in the French progressive world!

In an ideal world, we should meet every year! France and the United Kingdom are meant to work hand in hand. The French students need a session to discover that Fish and Chips are a Sefardi dish!”

Rabbi Kerber teaches Jewish Mysticism and the Theology of the Jewish Calendar at the ERP.

LBC student rabbi Andrea Kulikovsky said:  “It was an intense weekend: we built bridges, shared Torah and studied together with French rabbis and student rabbis. We learned about French Jewish community and history, and had the amazing opportunity of living a shabbat with them. It was hopefully the beginning of a long relationship.”

LBC student rabbi Yael Tischler said: “The experience in Paris was inspiring, energising, and nourishing. It was very meaningful to experience another manifestation of progressive Judaism and to connect with rabbinical and cantorial students living and working in a different milieu. I feel that I am bringing home the wisdom and the creativity of the CJL community with whom we spent the weekend and am excited to share it with our communities here.”