There was an amazing array of activities around the US community to commemorate Yom Hazikaron and celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut this week. I was privileged to attend the Israeli Embassy’s celebration at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel on Friday, as well as joining with 100 co-members of Belmont Shul for our own celebrations which we did with an evening of song and food. We, together with Pinner Shul, are blessed with very musical Rabbis, and when both Rabbi Elchonon Feldman and Rabbi Danny Bergson (Pinner) joined together, both playing guitar (with one of the US Vice Presidents, Russell Kett, another Belmont member), there was a “ruach” that was both uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable.
But there were many other communities who held special events, not least the very moving event at Kinloss attended by both the Chief Rabbi and Israeli Ambassador. I was also told about the Northwood event, which well over a hundred people attended. Well done to all our communities who worked so hard to celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday! We also did our bit at the Centre, holding a drop-in falafel and hummus lunch for all the staff on Thursday. Rabbi Andrew Shaw gave an impassioned speech about the amazing impact Medinat Yisrael has had on our Jewish lives and the world at large – all to the background of Israeli music. Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time – but then food always goes down a treat here!
Earlier this week I attended the quarterly meeting of Chief Executives of Jewish organisations which are members of the Jewish Leadership Council. With the JC in attendance to discuss their role in the community, it was an interesting meeting, followed by a discussion as to how the community can increase women’s involvement in community leadership. As always, the US is at the heart of discussions which regularly makes my role challenging to say the least.
This week also saw the monthly Trustee meeting. Apart from dealing with various community issues, plus a full briefing by David Kaplan on the forthcoming Shul AGMs and the issues relevant to each, we had invited Mick Davis and Jeremy Newmark to present to the Trustees on the role and successes of the JLC. Everyone was extremely impressed with Mick Davis’ presentation. Here is an immensely successful and busy businessman devoting enormous amounts of his time for the benefit of the British Jewish community, and he certainly deserves our sincere thanks for all this effort.
We held another of our regular meetings with the Rabbinical Council this week. With Rabbi Baruch Davis at the helm, the role and impact of the RCUS is greatly increasing. It is a pleasure to work with him and his team as close colleagues, and it augers well for the future of the United Synagogue, because without motivated and gifted rabbinical teams, we will not be able to implement all the strategies we are developing to ensure we effectively engage with our members and ensure the growth and success of the United Synagogue in particular, and mainstream orthodox Judaism in general.
Another regular meeting is the one I have with my counterpart in the Federation of Synagogues, Eli Keinwald, and we met again this week. Eli and I go way back to when he was my choirmaster at Belmont Shul. We have an excellent relationship and enjoy meaningful and open dialogue. We work hard to dovetail what we do on various matters, and it ensures the orthodox community works together in partnership as and when required.
And of course the regular professional meetings continue, this week with our monthly Senior Management Team, as well as departmental meetings with Kashrut, Tribe, and Burial. There is never a dull moment!
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