I think it would be totally remiss of me not to link COVID-19 and our Kol Nidre appeal together this year. COVID has changed all our life’s in different ways, disrupted our routine and made us think differently. It’s been cruel to us all, financially, socially & emotionally. Financially many of us have been affected by the knock-on effects of COVID. Socially it’s been a disaster, not just by having to close our shul doors in March to services & to our social and educational events but in most cases we have not continued the vibrant social life we enjoyed last year. Emotionally it’s been a disaster, we have not been able to see friends and family, & we have also lost so many dear friends at Jacksons Row, it’s been horrendous losing so members. One dear Member was Walter Hirsch who beat the Nazis but couldn’t beat COVID. How cruel has it been to us . . .

But I must also look at the positive side and the Mitzvahs we have achieved. Our fabulous community has come together like never before, we have reacted quickly and provided Zoom & Facebook services some attended by over 600 people, our volunteer team has reached out to all our membership by phone, we have helped with shopping where necessary we have made communication which without our  phone calls would have left some members totally isolated and lonely. We have a new Bikkurim (care) Team who have helped the bereaved with comfort and support and we have delivered challah and wine to the bereaved families instead of being able to attend and show our respect as we would do normally through visiting the Shiva House. We have delivered parcels to members who were isolated, through a well organised and devoted team of JR volunteers who have all done an amazing Mitzvah by looking after our own members. In another act of Tzedakah I would like to thank our wonderful new Executive and Council for their time and commitment they are giving to help me take our congregation forward. And for that amazing Mitzvah may I thank you, too many I am pleased to say, to mention you all.  Thankyou.

If you would like to give your time to help with the amazing volunteer network we have created please let me know, we need you. Your time is so valuable in helping us help others in our own community. Donating on Kol Nidre is a different Mitzvah, we historically donate to charity and in return we ask God to forgive our sins and look at our lives in the coming year more favourably. This year it’s vital we all make a Tzedakah donation, it doesn’t matter how small your donation is, the important part is making that donation. The advantage of making it to our appeal is that collectively we can in turn make a larger donation to those who need it. This year I am not doing an appeal for a new charity as I do each year, as unfortunately those we have supported over the years and have come to rely on our generosity need our help more than ever, both here at home and in Israel where there has been no furlough scheme or financial aid at all. Due to COVID, the local charities we have supported in the past are in a terrible state simply because donations to them have been greatly reduced and their costs due to COVID and ensuring that the appropriate PPE equipment is in place has put a terrible burden on all of them. At Brookvale, a home for Mentally & Physically Disabled Jewish Adults, where I have been  privileged to be Chairman for many years, I have seen first-hand the effect it has had on both the staff and residents, residents who have still not seen their families since March 23rd. Can you imagine that? The cost of buying iPads so they can like everyone else see their loved ones virtually has cost us dearly, the cost of protecting staff and residents from the virus and keeping them all safe is immense. And they are not alone, so help me to help all the charities we have supported in the past.

So, this year I ask you to help keep the spirit of support we have been so successful with in the past, I ask you, even if you haven’t donated in the past to do so, even £10 will go a long way when we add them all up. Tzedakah is the Hebrew word for philanthropy and charity. It is a form of social justice in which donors benefit from giving as much or more than the recipients.  It’s so much more than a financial transaction, Tzedakah builds trusting relationships and includes contributions of time, effort & insight. Our ritual of giving charity is a form of redemption which was historically to give a sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem but as the Temple is no longer there, we make a donation to pay for our atonement to help cleanse our soul and for the benefit of those who are not as fortunate as ourselves, so while our Temple is not accessible to us let’s do the same and give our Tzedakah together.


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