It was therefore an honour and a pleasure to participate in last week’s residential Rabbinical Conference organised by the Rabbinical Council of the US at a hotel in Lyndhurst in the New Forest. The vast majority of the US rabbinate including the Rebbetzens participated in the event as well as many from our sister communities around the regions and the Dayanim and Chief Rabbi.
The benefit of a residential conference was clear to see. Not only were there opportunities for both the Rabbis and Rebbetzens to network, share ideas and concerns, and participate in discussions and educational sessions, but by providing crèche facilities and activities for the children, the rabbinical couples were able to fully focus on the event.
Indeed we mustn’t forget the impact of such a life on the children of our rabbinical couples. They too are in the limelight and this chance to “chill out” was very much appreciated.
This event, ably led by Rabbi Boruch Davis and his team, was also an opportunity for the Professional team to discuss central strategy issues and share views on the work we are currently undertaking, especially our work in Tribe. It has become clear to me and Rabbi Andrew Shaw that part of the Tribe message hasn’t fully been appreciated by many of our community, and we took this opportunity to further explain our work, develop our ideas and discuss the impact of the current programmes with all our Rabbinate. In particular we wanted to discuss the Tribe journey – one built on programmes run centrally and, crucially, locally. These are aimed at increasing our children’s attachment to authentic, inclusive and modern Judaism, and creating a powerful loyalty to mainstream orthodox Judaism. Wherever they are, and at whatever point in their lives, we want Tribe members to have a chance to engage with their community.
The central message therefore was that every programme run by our communities, whether inspired by Tribe at the Centre or not, should be promoted as a Tribe programme at the local community. In this way our children are much more likely to engage with other Tribe programmes outside of their communities, such as Summer schemes, camps and Tour, and also participate in Tribe programmes on Campus and when they return and enter the workforce. Thus the chances of our children and grandchildren remaining loyal US community members will be significantly enhanced thereby securing the future of The US and mainstream orthodoxy in Britain for generations to come.
I also found time this week to visit two of our communities in North East London, Newbury Park and Ilford. Whilst these communities are aging and have a number of challenges, the leaders of these communities remain motivated and committed to their members. We at the Centre are trying to help them put together relevant programmes and activities and we hope this will re-energise these communities and attract new committed members in the years to come.
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