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Fresh ideas top the agenda at Regional Community Leaders Conference 2018

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Planning for the future and embracing innovation were the key themes of the latest Regional Community Leaders Conference, staged by the Centre for Community Excellence department of the Office of the Chief Rabbi. The significant event took place at UHC Leeds with 19 communities in attendance.

This third meeting of lay leaders from across the United Hebrew Congregation communities served as an open forum for delegates to discuss issues and exchange ideas, as well as hear from senior leadership figures in the Jewish community.

A focused case study session involved seven delegates presenting on innovative or impactful projects in their communities, from Leicester’s application for lottery grants for a thriving schools education programme to Brighton & Hove’s ambitious plans for a new community complex. Ensuring the long-term engagement of youth and exploring alternative leadership models were also on the agenda.

The Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Simon Johnson, explored the outlook for regional communities in terms of shifting demographics, the role of synagogues and the state of elderly care. He stressed the importance of maintaining the “vibrancy, vitality and sustainability of our communities” and outlined the JLC’s commitment to representing the Jewish community at a national level.

Before lunch, the Chief Rabbi spoke on the ability of every community to achieve ‘Community Excellence’, both by explaining the various services available through his Office and through presenting strategies for attracting attendees to synagogue. He focused on the importance of ‘entry points’, these being initial activities or volunteering opportunities that serve to connect people with their community.

The Manny Cussins Suite was filled with animated discussion after lunch, as delegates split off into groups for a break-out session that allowed them to learn from each other’s successes and work through common issues.

Mark Frazer, Director of Communications at the Office of the Chief Rabbi concluded the day by presenting on marketing strategies for the digital age. “More important than communicating what your community does is why your community does it,” he said, “and this is what must be conveyed in digital communications like the community newsletter.”

The Chief Rabbi said: “I am privileged to be able to visit regional communities throughout the UK, where I am moved and inspired by the selfless devotion of truly outstanding community leaders. It was a source of great pride for me to see so many representatives of communities coming together at our conference with the common aim of sustaining vibrant Jewish life in the regions.”

Adrian Fletcher, the President of Southport Hebrew Congregation and his wife Ghislaine said: “Thank you to the Office of the Chief Rabbi for this initiative, which keeps our small community connected to the wider UK Jewry – a most enlightening day.”


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