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Author Archives: Rachel Shababo

  1. Bosworth Reunion is a Virtual Success

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    Solihull Hebrew Congregation packed in a huge amount of activities and speakers for their first Virtual Reunion. The community gathered online with five other communities to reunite after their Bosworth Shabbaton last year. There was a virtual Challah bake to get everyone in the mood, and hungry, for Shabbat as well as a huge variety of speakers and workshops. No Shabbaton, virtual or otherwise, would be complete without singing so they invited Chazzan Zali Rodal to lead a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat service. To top it all off each participant received a pre-Shabbat gift bag packed with all the Shabbat necessities as well as a special booklet to enhance the experience. By combining the physical gift bags and the virtual activities the communities were able to reunite and connect in a way that can inspire us all.

    Evaluation from Rabbi Yehuda Pink:

    ‘It enabled people confined to their homes to enjoy top quality speakers and renew friendships with acquaintances from other small provincial communities and make new friends. It exposed them to high calibre speakers and conveyed the message that one can be actively observant Jewishly and still successful in life. It shone a ray of light on the darkness of isolation.’

    Participant feedback:

    • ‘It was a wonderful weekend. This was my first ‘Bosworth’, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to my friends.’
    •  ‘It was enlightening and an amazingly organised reunion.’
  2. Virtual Tour of the Four Kingdoms

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    Through the magic of technology Magen Avot was able to visit museums around the world in the virtual ‘Four Kingdoms’ tour. Lead by Nachliel Selavan, an Israeli educator, the community discovered the ancient empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Each dominated the historical timeline during the time of the Temples in Jerusalem. The tour explored these kingdoms through different museums as well as using sources from the Tanach, Talmud and Midrash.

    Evaluation from Rabbi Kenigsberg:

    ‘We were looking for a programme to educate and simultaneously something unique to attract interest and hold the attention of the attendees. To our delight the tour was easy to follow, was filled with information, and was interesting. It could easily have been for a longer duration to accommodate the fascinating information, and easy to view artefacts that were on display. The speaker integrated the visual and commentary seamlessly.’

    Participant Feedback:

    •  ‘It was surprisingly engaging! Brilliant and informative.’
    •  ‘The tour was excellent, dynamic and well presented.’
  3. Kenton’s Kabbalat Shabbat with Superstar Shulem

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    With many shuls doing a virtual pre-Shabbat service Kenton wanted to make sure theirs stood out. And how do you make a Kabbalat Shabbat shine? You ask Shulem Lemmer to be the chazzan! The American singer brought his unique voice and aura to the service, uplifting the voices of the community and creating a sense of peace before Shabbat.

    Evaluation from Vice-Chair Roy Block:

    ‘The whole community’s spirit has been raised by hearing such a superstar and I am still coming back to earth after such an amazing Kabbalat Shabbat.’

    Participant Feedback:

    •  ‘It was an inspirational start to Shabbat’
    •  ‘Fabulous, Shulem has a beautiful voice and the service was very uplifting’
  4. Welcome to the Staffroom

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    During the pandemic parents have become teachers in their own homes. Pinner shul set up a weekly online event to gather these new ‘teachers’ together to learn from each other. Each week an expert delivers a short talk on the topic of parenting, education or pastoral issues. The parent-teachers then have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their own experiences. The shul also delivered PPE, ‘Parent Pamper Equipment’, consisting of relaxing candles, indulgent dark chocolate and soothing hand cream, all necessary after a long day of teaching their new students.

    Evaluation from Rebbetzen Kurzer:

    ‘We had some excellent speakers who were received very well and we would use them again. The PPE was really enjoyed and gave the program an edge and I think also ensured it was firmly on the map in peoples diaries. Biggest achievement was those families who came back week after week on a Sunday evening. As it spread for 7 weeks over the coronavirus is also created a supportive environment for the challenges people were facing.’

    Participant Feedback:

    • ‘It has been great on many levels. The programme has given us something to look forward to each week in this strange time. It’s been really educational and supportive – getting together with other parents and hearing them asking the same questions you’ve been thinking about yourself removes a lot of anxiety from being a lock-down parent.’
    • ‘We both enjoyed it very much. Looked forward to it every week and completely appreciated the efforts that went into planning it and the advice and insight from the collection of very interesting speakers.’
  5. Chigwell’s Reflections

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    Chigwell shul ran an all-day seminar with a full children’s’ programme and an incredible range of top-class speakers. This included Rabbi Daniel Sturgess, Rabbi Daniel Rowe, Rebbetzen Jacqueline Feldman, Rebbetzen Shalvi Friedman, Rabbi Dovid Katz, Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein, Adam Green, Rabbi Akiva Tatz and Rabbi Andrew Shaw. The seminar ran on three separate tracks, inspiration, innovation and Israel with the sessions split between them. There was also two Keynote sessions where all the participants came together and a beautifully catered lunch for a chance for friends to reconvene and discuss what they had learnt.

    Evaluation from Rabbi Baruch Davis:

    “We sought to offer a variety of topics, offered by a variety of people – Rabbis and Rebbetzens of Chigwell and elsewhere and from two men who had grown up in our community. All were excellent and attracted a large and varied audience and enhanced their feelings of community, Jewish pride and Jewish knowledge. It left people thirsting for more. Many thanks indeed to the Chief Rabbi and his amazing CCE initiative, and his team at the OCR, enabling us to aspire to ever greater heights.”

    Participant Feedback:

    • ‘I gained an insight and understanding for a number of subjects that I’d thought about previously but had been unable to reconcile. Excellent event! look forward to next year.’
    • ‘Every session I attended, in its own way, stood out as excellent. It is impossible for me to choose a favourite! Truly amazing, well organised, top speakers. Well done Rabbi Davis and team!’
  6. Shrubberies Shabbaton a Shining Success

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    Shrubberies shul in Manchester hosted an exciting and uplifting Shabbat weekend for young families.  Starting with the Great Shrubbs Bake Off on Wednesday Night, families baked cookies and cakes for senior members of the community and for Kiddush on Shabbat. Shabbat itself started with a communal candle lighting, musical Kabbalat Shabbat, and a Ruach-filled Friday night dinner in the shul. Shabbat Day included a special ‘families’ minyan’ and a buffet Shabbat lunch that allowed the families to stay and engage in the panel discussion taking place. The weekend culminated with a musical Havdalah and a motzai Shabbat pyjama party with family photography and on-the spot magnet printing.

    Evaluation from Youth Director Mikey Lebrett:

    “The weekend was a huge success. There was an exceptionally warm and familial atmosphere throughout. The children all had an amazing time, and the adults were left feeling part of a special community. We received fabulous feedback, including from attendees who have recently joined the Shul who said that they now feel that they properly belong to the community. Families who have not previously interacted with each other have struck up friendships and visiting non-members have expressed interest in future events.”

    Participant Feedback:

    • ‘It was all absolutely fabulous, we all had an amazing time! The Friday night dinner was meticulously planned and the funfair was an absolutely genius idea. Loved the singing. The lunch was lovely. Pyjama party was great, havdala was really special. Would not change a thing.’
    • ‘I gained a continued belief in the importance of our community and an insight from our panel on Shabbat lunch as to some ways to address challenges faced as a parent.’
  7. Woodside Park on Ice

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    Woodside Park shul hired out the ice-rink at Alexandra Palace for a super COOL Sunday event. There was amazing ruach as all ages strapped on their skates and showed off their moves. The skaters had fun whizzing around to the music and there was even a special Woodside Park mascot skating around!

    Evaluation from Event Organiser Abi Wise:

    “The Ice Skating was a huge success and enjoyed by everyone who attended. Our audience was of all ages from under 5’s to over 60 which is exactly what I wanted to achieve. It also brought together people from other communities too, which was also the other aim. Participants enjoyed a free skate, a professional show and games as well as a shiur from Rabbi Hackenbroch. The event also welcomed our Mascot to the community!”

    Participant feedback

    Excellent! A fun event for the whole family and lovely to have the whole venue to ourselves.

    • ‘Excellent! A fun event for the whole family and lovely to have the whole venue to ourselves’.
    • ‘An excellent event put on by the shul for all ages. The skating show was superb and it was great bonding time’.
  8. Hale goes to the Everyman

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    Hale shul pulled out all the stops and hired out an Everyman cinema so the community could watch the thought-provoking film ‘Jojo Rabbit’ in comfort and style. The film explores Nazi Germany through the eyes of a child in a new and startling take on the gene. By creating a specific time and place for the community to see it together a bigger discussion was ignited and the importance of remembering was reaffirmed.

    Evaluation from Chair Ben Sallon:

    “The film had a big appeal and on point message to our Jewish community. Cutting edge and stylish venue appealed to a wide audience. The feedback from all those present was that they are looking forward to the next similar style event!”

    Participant feedback

    • ‘It was an insightful film showing love over hate can win. It made a difference seeing it surrounded by other shul members in an amazing setting, bringing the point home that despite everything we are here and thriving’.
    • ‘It was a film I wanted to see, made even better by the choice of cinema and the ability to share the experience with other members and friends’.


  9. Doughnut Bake and Decorate at Yeshurun UHC

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    The Cheadle congregation of all ages gathered to decorate doughnuts for Chanukah. But what do you do when some people want a quiet time to leisurely decorate their desserts and others want to dance around to their favourite music? The answer is…a silent disco! The participants recieved a headset which played the same music for everyone and those who didn’t want were able to chat to their friends. This wonderful combination allowed group fun that was also tailored to each person’s wishes. Everyone came together at the end to enjoy their decorated treats and to light the Menorah as a community.

    Evaluation from Rabbi Bank:

    “The participants felt that it was cross generational and young people were able to use the Shul building in a positive manner – the hall was rocking! The Donut bake was inclusive, brought families together and the candle lighting was meaningful to all, with Chanukah brachot and songs given to all so that everyone could join in”.

    Participant Feedback:

    • ‘It was excellent, a real Chanukah atmosphere, all the community together having fun, learning making doughnuts, enjoying music and reaching out’.
    • ‘Well organised; a lot of effort was put into the event. Most enjoyable and good fun for all generations’.
  10. Chanukah Family Fun Fills Holy Law Synagogue

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    Holy Law in Manchester hosted a sparkling and fun filled Family Chanukah party. There was something for everyone, with crafts, face painting, food and even a bubbleologist! There were also specially designated ‘chill zones’ for different ages, with a soft play area for the younger kids and an arcade like set-up of table tennis and air hockey for the teens. Everyone came together at the end for an uplifting Menorah lighting and the ultimate unifier for all ages…doughnuts!

     Evaluation from Event Planner Jonny Dolties:

    “It was a fantastic event for children, parents and grandparents to get together, meet new people and enjoy the Chanukah experience. It was great to see children from vastly different backgrounds enjoying themselves together and parents enjoying a chat and coffee together. It was a real communal event”.

    Participant Feedback:

    • ‘My family made new connections within the Shul and the children had a great Chanukah experience’.
    • ‘It was a fantastic opportunity to support our shul and we all had a fun day out with our children in celebration of Chanukah’.