Alyth showcases social justice
On Sunday 8th July Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue) hosted its first major Social Justice Showcase. 150 people attended the event with activities for all ages.
The Showcase featured a fair with where participants could visit stalls run by over twenty charities. Most of these are causes with which Alyth members are deeply involved, ranging from World Jewish Relief to the Calcutta Hope Children's Home, founded by a two synagogue members, Philip and Veronica Clein, who were inspired by the plight of Calcutta's street children to found a home that cares for fifty children until they reach adulthood.
Other stall holders included the Noah's Ark Children's Hospice and the Big Green Jewish Website which thrilled participants with a bicycle connected to a blender so that it could make fruit smoothies without electricity. The fair also included stalls promoting Alyth's own social action projects such as the synagogue's twin Reform community in Kerch, Ukraine, which provides a thriving centre of Jewish life for hundreds of Jews every week and Alyth’s new project, a much used monthly drop in centre for refugees.
There was a count of all the bras that have been collected over the past two months from various synagogues and communities as part of Oxfam's Bra Hunt. Nearly seven hundred bras were counted and packed up to be sent off to women in Africa.
The key note speaker at the showcase was Laurence Guinness, head of campaigns and research for Kids Company, a leading UK charity which provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner city children. He addressed the audience about the growing crisis of London's hungry children, with hard hitting figures and facts about the realities for young, vulnerable children living in London. Kids Company provides over two thousand hot meals for London's poorest children every week.
During the presentation the community was served a basic lunch prepared for under £1 of beans and chips and people were encouraged to make a 'Plate Pledge' as part of Kids Company's latest campaign to sponsor meals for others. £225 was raised, buying 450 meals for hungry children.
Head of Social Justice at Alyth, Nikki Levitan, says: "We decided to bring the issue of child hunger to the showcase as this is a subject we naturally connect with as a far away issue that happens in the developing world, not here in London on our doorsteps. I hope this day has exposed people in our community and beyond to the variety of issues and causes out there and some of the amazing work that is being done to heal our world, as well as tangible ways individuals can become more active citizens."
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith says: "Nikki and her team of volunteers have shown by the sheer buzz of Alyth’s first Social Justice Showcase that gemilut chassadim (acts of loving kindness) can inspire a synagogue just deeply as learning and prayer."
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