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KLS-Annual Report-17-18-ONLINE

Kingston Liberal Synagogue - Annual Report 2017 A review of our 50th anniversary year

Introduction Craig

Introduction Craig Simmons Chair’s report We hope this new style of annual report conveys some of the warmth of the community, its wide range of activities and that it will support our endeavours to promote KLS to visitors, prospective members and other organisations. I am grateful for everyone who has contributed and to Nora Zimerman who created the design. The year marked a milestone in the development of KLS as we celebrated our 50th anniversary. It was also the start of a new, exciting era with the appointment of Rabbi René. It enabled us to look back at the strong community our founders had created and that successive generations of members continue to build on with enormous pride, expressed in particular at an outstanding anniversary service, a very special anniversary chavurah supper, and at Rabbi René’s induction. It was heart-warming to share this with the many local dignitaries and interfaith leaders who attended. It also provides an opportunity to look forward. Rabbi René has already helped us begin to address some of the challenges which we currently face. His passion for knowledge has meant we now have three regular adult learning sessions as well as his thoughtful sermons. We have also been able to expand our care team to help achieve our goal to be a responsive, caring community. Our external profile is improving once again with a number of initiatives being undertaken by the team led by Vince Daly who we welcomed back on Council in 2017. The interfaith Chanukah celebration was a superb example. We still have much to do. As well as being an ever-improving institution for existing members, we need to review the current structure of our children’s learning at Beiteinu, building on what we have and enhancing it; find new Council members and volunteers for a number of roles which members are stepping down from after many years of loyal service; promote KLS further to attract new members; and find additional revenue to meet all our costs. With imagination and the combined efforts of all members, we can achieve them. Mike Barnato President’s Report My role as President is, of course, very different to that of the Chair. It is a supportive and representational role; it is not decision making and managerial. I try to avoid being either a “back seat driver” or disconnected from what’s going on. It is a fine balance. I assisted the KLS Chair, Council, Rabbi and members, as requested. This included: • Acting as a sounding board for the Chair • Contributing to Council discussion of strategic priorities • External representation with religious, civic and business institutions • At events, welcoming, thanking attendees or (for the first time) compering • Inviting potential members and friends to KLS • Ongoing meeting and greeting visitors and members. KLS celebrated its 50th anniversary year in some style and welcomed the arrival of Rabbi René. Chair and Council, who are volunteers, deserve considerable praise for these achievements. Our activities are wide ranging and include Religion, Outreach, Social & Education (ROSE). Together we offer something vital - in Rabbi René’s words - “community”. I hope that KLS can move forward, with positivity and not too many hard choices. So we develop faith, fellowship, future (learning), family, funds, fun and philanthropy. 4 – KLS Annual Report 2017

Introduction Rabbi René Pfertzel Rabbi’s Report Following in the footsteps of two prominent Liberal rabbis, Rabbi Danny Rich and Rabbi Charley Baginsky, is an awe-inspiring adventure. When I started in August 2017, Kingston Liberal Synagogue was in the middle of its 50th anniversary celebrations, and I saw a community proud of its past, well-established in the area, a proud constituent of Liberal Judaism. Already after a few weeks, I realised that working with KLS was a good match on both sides, and I am looking forward to the years ahead. My vision of a Liberal community is, in the words of the late Rabbi John Rayner, a community that is 100% liberal and 100% Jewish in its values. We have inherited a profound, meaningful and wonderful Jewish tradition, that goes back many centuries, and in our movement, we have the freedom to read and adapt it in terms relevant to our time. Everything can be questioned; nothing is beyond our reach. To achieve these two 100% goals, we have at our disposal a community that provides warmth, meaning, education for young and adults, a community that follows the rhythms of the Jewish year and the Jewish lifecycle; a community that is not afraid to question the world around and to raise a Progressive Jewish voice that finds its roots in the ethical teachings of our tradition. Outside our community, I am engaged in interfaith relationships through Kingston Interfaith Forum, and as the Jewish chaplain for Kingston University. There are many occasions to meet people from other faiths, to share our different views, and also to discuss what we want the world to become and how we can work together towards bettering our society. Our community belongs to all of us, and it thrives with all our energies put together. To paraphrase what President Kennedy once said, ‘Do not ask what the community can do for you, but ask what you can do for the community’. There is a subtle, sacred balance between the community and its members whereby we receive more than we put in. Volunteering for KLS is one of our next great projects. However, as a Progressive Jewish community, we face the same challenges as our sister congregations. We live in a world where Progressive values are widely accepted, to the point that they sometimes become indifference. I still believe that Progressiveness is very much needed in the religious world, and we have something to say to those in search of a spirituality that is not opposed to the modern world, that is not based on guilt and coercion, and that is open to endless exploration. We are also needed by those who want to explore the meaning of their Jewishness in a creative and open way. Another challenge is caused by the low level of community affiliation in the British Jewish community. A recent survey showed that roughly half of British Jews do not belong to a synagogue, and in the four boroughs that are closest to KLS, the rate is even higher. Our voice must be stronger, more widely heard, so that curious Jews who do not know that we exist will join us. And again, it is a common endeavour. We have the resources and the strength to respond to these challenges: a welcoming community with a very positive and strong ethos, a very solid board with a positive spirit, and my colleagues that often work behind the scenes to run KLS smoothly, Diane Snapper, Karen Nicholas, and Vili Kiradzhiev. 5 – KLS Annual Report 2017

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