Sheffield and District Reform Jewish Congregation

Round-up of Activities for the Year Ended 31 March 2016

Chair's Report

The Congregation continues to provide regular religious services and activities. During the year we arranged about three events each month, including evening and morning Shabbat services.

This year we had two “coming of age” celebrations – Orly's Bat Mitzvah and David's 70th birthday celebration with a special service at which he read his Bar Mitzvah portion again.

In March 2016 we welcomed deputies from the Board of Deputies to our Shabbat morning service, as the Deputies were in town for a meeting. The visitors included Gillian Merron (the Chief Executive of the Board) who gave an interesting address on the work of the Board.

During the year we also welcomed Student Rabbi Frankie Stubbs who led our High Holy Day services; Student Rabbi Igor Zinkov who led a Shabbat morning service and gave us a very interesting talk on what it is like to be a Jew living in Russia today; and Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz from Sinai Synagogue who led an informal and musical Shabbat evening service.

In November we joined in the Shabbat services in Sheffield where the Movement for Reform Judaism was running their Northern Chagigah (community weekend). The weekend was a great opportunity for members to be involved in lots of different activities, learn more about the MRJ, and meet many more Reform Jews.

In October we joined in the Reform Movement’s special Shabbat celebration by holding a bring-to-share lunch followed by a discussion on various Shabbat themes. Other celebrations during the year included a Chanukah party and a Succot Celebration - both celebrated at members' homes. Additionally we held a Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration - complete with a BBQ and a bouncy castle (for adults as well as children).

Other special events were our communal Seder and Matzah Ramble, a Shavuot study session with John, a summer picnic at Clumber Park tree planting and gardening at Parkwood Springs Forest to mark Tu BiShvat, a Havdallah celebration (with tea and a film), and ten pin bowling and lunch to mark Purim - with wonderful home-made Hamentaschen.

Also, as the renowned singer Judith Silver was in Sheffield for David’s birthday, we had the opportunity to have her lead a singing workshop for us, which was well attended. In addition to these activities we held regular film shows, and the Open Book Club (which brings together people from both congregations) met regularly.

In order to promote understanding of Judaism, the work of our Congregation, and encourage community cohesion, we have undertaken several school talks/presentations, and Patsy has been very active in various interfaith networks. We were also represented at Sheffield’s Holocaust Memorial Day service (where Penny gave the first reading) and have made regular appeals for donations towards the Fir Vale Foodbank.

The Committee would like to thank all those people who have helped in whatever way to put on all these activities. The committee is aware that, as our members get older, our membership numbers continue to reduce and that, as we have only a very small nucleus of active members, it is becoming increasingly difficult to organise and run our activities. As a result of discussions at the last AGM (in July 2015) a small subcommittee was set up to consider how we might increase participation in our activities and (if possible) increase the number of members. As a result the Committee is proposing the employment of a part-time community development worker to help promote (and therefore hopefully grow) the Congregation. During the AGM we will tell you more about our plans, and members will be voting on the proposal to employ this worker. The committee would like to thank the sub group for the work they have put into this.

In addition to possibly employing a worker, this coming year we will need to find a new Honorary Treasurer (as Michele is stepping down after 3 years) and a new Honorary Secretary (as Judith anticipates moving away from the area soon). It goes without saying that the Congregation will be unable to continue successfully without filling these key posts.

Additionally, we still need more people to help lead services, help set up for services, and help the committee in the running of activities. If you can help in any of these roles please let a member of the committee know.

Penny Kay