We are right in the middle of the Shul AGM season and there has been lots happening across our communities. I made sure I attended my own Shul’s AGM and was delighted to see how warmly the Belmont Honorary Officers and the rest of the community have taken to our new Rabbi and Rebbetzen, the Feldmans. They have taken Belmont by storm creating numerous initiatives for the whole community. They have also been able to bring in a new Youth Director and the activities for the youth at Belmont seem to be growing exponentially. It is extremely heartening to see the community enthusiastically engage with a whole series of Tribe programmes and also partnering with other US communities in the area to create a critical mass for relevant ideas. Long may this renaissance continue!
I was also able to spend time this week with one of the newest US member communities, Enfield and Winchmore Hill. This is another example of an Affiliate Shul coming to the conclusion that it would serve their best interests to take the plunge and join the US as a full member. Theirs is a lovely shul, quietly tucked away in a leafy suburb. It has a cosy feel, and I was very warmly welcomed. They have lots of ideas as to how to grow their community, and with a committed lay leadership and a wonderful rabbinic team in the Sufrins, they have much to look forward to. This certainly is a small community with big ideas!
This week was partly dominated for me with the US Trustees meeting, unusually held on Wednesday given the preponderance of AGMs on the Monday. Some of the many issues that we had been trying to resolve over months and years started to reach positive conclusions; perhaps because the AGM season also creates an atmosphere amongst communities of trying to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion before terms of office are completed. One of the highlights of the meeting was the extremely interesting presentation given by Consultant Marketing Director, Ian Myers on the work of the Fundraising Department. The development of our team and their expertise managing the mass appeals, especially our Kol Nidre Appeal is extremely comforting, with the last appeal being the most successful we have ever run, with proceeds exceeding £1m across the US communities, and this is despite the ongoing financially challenging environment we face. Well done to all of them in that department, and keep up the good work.
The drafting of the new US Shiva Book is now reaching its conclusion and I was able to review the various insertions. It is a seriously beautiful and sensitive production, and I am delighted with how it is looking. I am sure we will all be extremely proud of the end product.
Finally, David Kaplan, David Frei and I met to discuss the perennial challenge of the US Constitution. The Trustees have rightly focussed much of their attention on increasing the engagement of younger people in the US and our meeting was designed to consider how we might be able to create an easier and more enticing environment for this to happen. We came up with some novel ideas and we intend to debate them further with the Trustees shortly so that we can bring some recommendations to the US Council, the body which has the responsibility to decide constitutional change at the US.
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