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Communities come together for Shavuot services and events

Shavuot was another festival that saw many of our Progressive communities collaborating with each other for joint services and through-the-night learning sessions that really showed the best of Progressive Judaism in action. 

Rabbi Adrian Schell of The Wimbledon Synagogue said: “These joint events were a wonderful reflection of the potential that the coming together of the Liberal and Reform movements has for all of our congregations.”

We are delighted to be able to bring you pictures from around the country – although be warned, they may make you hungry! 

North West Surrey Synagogue, The Wimbledon Synagogue and Kingston Liberal Synagogue united for a festival service in Weybridge. Led by Rabbis Kath Vardi, Adrian Schell and René Pfertzel, the joyful service was filled with little anecdotes and explanations of different melodies and minhagim (traditions) people use in their own congregations – and how the festival of Shavuot reminds us that traditions and innovations are important factors in developing our communities. 

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Menorah Synagogue, Jackson’s Row, Sha’arei Shalom, Blackpool Reform Jewish Congregation and Liverpool Reform Synagogue held a joint hybrid Shavuot service, hosted by Menorah. Rabbis Lisa Barrett and Warren Elf led a short service, followed by four study sessions and a bring-and-share meal including lots of delicious cheesecakes.

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Mosaic Jewish Community, Kol Chai Reform Synagogue, The Liberal Synagogue Elstree, Radlett Reform Synagogue, Edgware & Hendon Reform Synagogue and South Herts & Edgware Masorti gathered at Mosaic for a 10-hour night and morning of learning and discussion. More than 100 people attended the Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, which concluded at dawn with Shacharit outside and the reading of the Ten Commandments from the Torah. 

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Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue, East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue and Oaks Lane Reform Synagogue joined for a Tikkun Leil Shavuot hybrid service, hosted by Sukkat Shalom. All ages came together to celebrate the giving of the Torah. Guests included Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick, the former Convener of the Reform Beit Din, who spoke about conversion and its history in Liberal and Reform Judaism. 

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Stevenage Liberal Synagogue and Radlett Reform Synagogue had a North Herts celebration, with members of the two communities joining together for tea, lots of cheesecake and songs led by Rabbi Paul Freedman. 

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The Liberal Jewish Synagogue through the night Shavuot event was themed ‘A Song for Peace’. It included discussions led by Vadim Blumin of the Jewish Agency and prominent Israel peace activist Magen Inon, as well as a homemade cheesecake competition. Guests included Progressive Judaism Co-Leads Rabbi Josh Levy and Rabbi Charley Baginsky and new Board of Deputies President Phil Rosenberg. 

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Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue built a cheesy Mount Sinai for the community’s cheese Shavuot Seder. 

Totnes Jewish Community celebrated Shavuot by the riverside, as members enjoyed their annual cheesecake picnic

Finchley Reform Synagogue celebrated Shavuot morning with a trip up a ‘Mount Sinai’ bouldering wall. They also made cheesecakes, took part in Shavuot themed arts and crafts and came together for a lovely blessing for all the children in the community. A visit from a special Shavuot ice cream van was another highlight! 

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Ealing Liberal Synagogue’s celebrations included a cheesecake competition, where Rabbi Miri Lawrence and her husband Dr Howard Cohen channeled the looks and spirit of Pru Leith and Paul Hollywood to judge the winners. 

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Radlett Reform Cheder continued their collaboration with Norwood, by inviting some of their residents to join them for a joint Shavuot event. Over 70 children – including students and teenage helpers/trainees – and 30 Norwood residents with their helpers worked together to each make a cheesecake, fruit flowers and cupcake case paper flowers. This was followed by a special assembly, where some of the Norwood guests explained how they are supported by the charity and the impact it has on their lives. 

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Harlow Reform Synagogue headed outside for a festival celebration that included tiara making from flowers and a homemade cheesecake competition judged by Rabbi Irit Shillor.

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Sinai Synagogue Leeds hosted a very special evening of prayer, learning, text study, music and food. Particular gratitude went to the kitchen team of Sara, Nikki, Helen, Catherine and Val, and community leader Cantor Rachel Weston (pictured here shopping for supplies).

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If your Shavuot isn’t featured, please send the best picture from your community and a sentence or two about how you celebrated to SimonR@progressivejudaism.org.uk

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