South Coast shul marks diamond anniversary
BOURNEMOUTH REFORM Synagogue has kicked off celebrations for its 60th anniversary with the launch of a website.
The website, which was devised by members of the community, includes information about the congregation and its services. It is also being used to link those congregants who live at a distance from the town. Among its 700 members, the BRS counts those who live in Winchester to the east and past Dorchester to the west.
Rabbi Neil Amswych, the synagogue’s minister, told the JC: “Instead of always expecting our members to come to us, we thought it would help a lot of people if we went to them.”
He added: “We also wanted a site where people could communicate with each other regardless of whether they lived in the next street or 100 miles apart.”
The site includes a forum so that the Bournemouth-based Foundations Course, started last year by Rabbi Amswych for members and proselytes, can be explored online. Now long-distance converts can study at home and attend services in Southampton or on the Isle of Wight. Via the site, they can also arrange a monthly lunch and study sessions with Rabbi Amswych and his wife, student rabbi Jenny.
A chatroom has been set up so that younger members from Dorset, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight can safely chat to one another.
“Our members can learn, share and socialise with each other without having to pay petrol or ferry costs,” added Rabbi Amswych.
The BRS also hopes to establish more “chavurah” groups, such as the one in Salisbury which was begun in December. “If other Jews on the South Coast see what we are doing and want help in setting up their own group, we have the tools and the will to help, and are able to bring them into a larger family,” said student rabbi Amswych.
Rabbi Tony Bayfield, head of the Movement for Reform Judaism, commented: “Bournemouth is leading the way with the Reform Movement’s 2020 Vision. It accepts its responsibility for Jews in a very wide ‘parish’. It is reaching out to people where they are and responding to their needs. Only this kind of open and sensitive approach offers British Jewry — particularly British Jewry ‘outside of the ghetto’ — hope for the future.”
Future events to celebrate the community’s diamond anniversary include a rededication Shabbat in June.
Some 90 people attended a cabaret evening organised by Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue. Among the 12 perfomers were violinist Hans Levy, who celebrates his 80th birthday next month. Pictured with Mr Levy is 15-year-old violinist Tilly Kearey. The event, held at the shul’s Montefiore Hall, raised around £800 for synagogue funds