Sheffield an event to remember

Forty people from 9 communities took part in Regional Network Meeting in Sheffield, held with the fantastic support of Sheffield United Synagogue.

Two representatives from Dublin flew over especially to join community members from across the region. As well those from Sheffield, both United Synagogue and Reform, were others from Hull, Leeds, Leicester and Nottingham. Marian Prinsely joined us from Norwich via pre-recorded video. Rabbi Aaron Lipsey from Newcastle on Tyne braved rail disruption to be our Keynote speaker.

The day began with introduction by Sheffield’s own Rabbi Golomb, and an update on Small Communities from Ed Horwich.

This was followed by presentations on two major Jewish learning projects in the region. Marion Prinsley told us how Norwich Hebrew Congregation had been able to develop their Shul’s resources, including the refurbishment of their community building, to be able to provide an educational resource for the whole East Anglian region. Norwich is said to be the seat of the infamous “blood libel” which has spread throughout the world. Jewish life forms an important part of Norwich’s history and the history of Jews under the law of Christianity throughout the world as a result. With the aid of local non-Jewish benefactors, money raised within the community and grants from Charitable foundations and the Lottery Heritage Fund, the Norwich shul will be able to secure for the future a significant part of its community resources.

Sandra Cohen told us about the success of Leicester Hebrew Congregation’s Heritage Lottery bid for nearly £1.2million. The huge amount of work that went into this bid has been rewarded. Now Leicester will be able to create a new educational resource to teach children from all faiths about Judaism. At the same time this will enable essential works to be done on the shul to secure its future.

After a splendid lunch, catered by Sheffield United shul, our Keynote speaker, Rabbi Aaron Lipsey, gave us insights into his project to take Christian clergy to Israel so that they can better understand the situation for themselves. Rabbi Lipsey has worked in partnership with Rev Gavin Wort, in Newcastle, to create tours of Israel which bring the visitors into contact with both Arab and Jewish Israeli’s and West Bank Palestinians, who tell what it is like to live there.

All participants then exchanging ideas during Round Table discussions. They learnt about one another as they each explained their different approaches to common issues. This proved to be a massively popular section of the meeting… we’ll be including more of these through our future JSCN projects.

The day reached its climax with a specially created Panel Game of CALL MY YIDDISH BLUFF. Chaired by John Blaskey with six panel members forming two teams, their Yiddish knowledge was tested to hilarious applause.


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