Songs, gongs and so­cial-ac­tion projects

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY LIFE -

A RE­WARD­ING week for au­thor and JC colum­nist Me­lanie Phillips, who on Mon­day be­came the re­cip­i­ent of this year’s Jewish Care Wo­man of Dis­tinc­tion Award. Ms Phillips, who joins fe­male lu­mi­nar­ies such as Baroness Deech, Mau­reen Lip­man and Pro­fes­sor Lisa Jardine, was pre­sented with her award at a lunch at the In­sti­tute of Direc­tors by TV pro­ducer Dan Pat­ter­son. He de­scribed her as “a coura­geous voice of san­ity in a world of in­creas­ing mad­ness” and said that her book Lon­don­istan and daily blog should be “com­pul­sory read­ing for all jour­nal­ists and politi­cians”.

A far less happy week for Liver­pool’s Green­bank Drive He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion, whose mem­bers heard that the shul will def­i­nitely close its doors on Jan­uary 5 af­ter 70 years. Al­though not the city’s most his­toric and au­gust syn­a­gogue — that hon­our be­longs to the Grade II listed 270-year-old Princes Road — Green­bank was the shul where Golda Meir once spoke, and where many Liver­pool Jews went to cheder and mar­ried.

Bet­ter syn­a­gogue news from Manch­ester, where the Fed­er­a­tion plans to ex­pand in the re­gions be­gin with the af­fil­i­a­tion of the Ohr Yerusha­layim con­gre­ga­tion.

At the other end of the coun­try, con­grat­u­la­tions to Mill Hill Syn­a­gogue in the flour­ish­ing heart of North-West Lon­don, which has been given the goa­head for a new build­ing de­scribed as “bold and iconic”. The £3 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment scheme will pro­vide youth and ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties and a multi-func­tion au­di­to­rium and hall. Also in­cluded is the re­fur­bish­ment of the 30-year-old shul it­self, where mem­ber­ship cur­rently stands at 1,000 fam­i­lies and is grow­ing at a rate of 15 to 20 fam­i­lies a month, says chair­man Jerome Re­back. Plans are by Mill Hill-based Jewish ar­chi­tects Far­row Silverton and build­ing is ex­pected to start next sum­mer. There is likely to be a big push on the fundrais­ing front, which had been put on hold while the com­mu­nity, led by dy­namic Rabbi Yitz­chok Scho­chet, awaited plan­ning per­mis­sion.

There is just time for the JC’s fe­male read­ers to buy tick­ets for this Sun­day’s all-women J Fac­tor, the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity’s an­swer to The X Fac­tor. Tak­ing place at Lon­don’s Logan Hall, the event or­gan­is­ers are Louise Leach, a fi­nal­ist in Pop­stars which launched Hearsay, Lib­erty X and Dar­ius, and her sis­ter Caro­line Pak­ter, who ap­peared in the West End as a singer and ac­tress. The two, who left the world of show­biz for an Ortho­dox lifestyle, set up Sis­ter Act Theatre Com­pany, which en­cour­ages women to per­form for women to raise money for char­ity. Sun­day night’s J Fac­tor will fea­ture 15 acts who will per­form be­fore an au­di­ence of al­most a 1,000 women and will be judged by celebri­ties Rachel Grimshaw, ex of Mamma Mia, and Eva Kat­zler, whose first sin­gle An­gel was re­leased last week. Singer Lu­cie Sil­vas will also per­form.

Well done Emu­nah for find­ing a timely way to raise funds. The women’s or­gan­i­sa­tion is run­ning a Dough­nut Day to co­in­cide with Chanu­cah. Sup­port­ers are asked to ar­range cof­fee morn­ings and hand out dough­nuts in ex­change for do­na­tions. Good for Emu­nah’s wel­fare work in Is­rael, if not so good for the waist­line.

A fem­i­nine theme seems to be emerg­ing this week: Com­mu­nity Life also learns of £18,000 raised by women sup­port­ers of the Is­rael’s art mu­se­ums. The Bri­tish Friends of the Art Mu­se­ums of Is­rael held a Jeans & Jew­els lunch at the St John’s Wood home of Mar­ion Nag­gar. Among the 60 guests hear­ing from a Christie’s spe­cial­ist pre­view­ing their jew­ellery sale next month was lead­ing UK-based de­signer Ron Arad, who de­signed and do­nated a piece of jew­ellery which was auc­tioned for BFAMI.

Any mo­ment now, mem­bers of 41 United Syn­a­gogue con­gre­ga­tions, 11,000 Tribe mem­bers and pupils at JFS, King Solomon High and Yavneh Col­lege will be re­ceiv­ing a glossy leaf- let from the US and the Lon­don School of Jewish Stud­ies as part of a joint pro­gramme called Project Ch­esed. The leaflet, de­signed to en­cour­age “acts of char­ity and kind­ness” con­tains sug­ges­tions for such acts, in­clud­ing the do­na­tion of toys to World Jewish Re­lief for chil­dren liv­ing in poverty in East­ern Europe and the for­mer Soviet Union. The project will op­er­ate through­out the year with par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on fes­ti­vals and life-cy­cle events.

And talk­ing of life-cy­cle events, the JC is de­lighted to con­grat­u­late Sadie and Jerry Cooper from East Lon­don, who cel­e­brated their di­a­mond wed­ding an­niver­sary on the same day as the Queen and Prince Philip with a party at Jewish Care’s Step­ney Com­mu­nity Cen­tre. Un­like HM and Prince Philip, Mr Cooper, a vice-pres­i­dent of the Lon­don Taxi Driv­ers’ Benev­o­lent As­so­ci­a­tion, and his wife met in an air-raid shel­ter.

A good week, too, for so­cial-ac­tion projects, with the Pears Foun­da­tion set­ting up a £10,000 So­cial Ac­tion Fund from which Jewish schools can ap­ply for small grants to set up their own projects, and the launch of a net­work for Jewish schools in­volved in so­cial ac­tion projects. The launch, held at Im­manuel Col­lege Bushey, in­cluded train­ing for so­cial ac­tion.

And fi­nally, an event with a deeply se­ri­ous pur­pose was held this week at Edg­ware’s Yeshu­run Syn­a­gogue. The Fed­er­a­tion shul has had prob­lems de­cid­ing which whisky it should serve at kid­dush each Shab­bat, so mem­bers and guests were in­vited to sam­ple a num­ber of sin­gle malts. The JC will not, of course, re­veal which was se­lected; you will have to at­tend ser­vices at the Stone­grove shul to find out…

Me­lanie Phillips re­ceives her award from Dan Pat­ter­son

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