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It’s all looking green up North!

The northern lights shone brightly last weekend as eleven of Reform Judaism’s thirteen northern congregations gathered in Easingwold in Yorkshire to celebrate Northern Chagigah 2021. The excitement was palpable as participants travelled from as far as Blackpool, Manchester and Glasgow excited to be together for the first time in such a long time.

More than a hundred delegates took part in the sold-out event at which the theme was everything ecological. The weekend coincided with Eco Shabbat and delegates enjoyed Torah study on the planet, a fungi foray and a closing session with Rabbi Mark Goldsmith fresh from COP26 who was joined online by Reform leaders from Texas, Israel and Melbourne teaching how climate change affects us in a global way.

Chagigah proved once again how co-operation and working together can build a strong partnership wherever a community exists and whatever the size of its membership. Simon Marcus from Sinai said, “It is not only being together after so long apart that is brilliant but it is the unexpected outcomes of those conversations – Blackpool Reform are coming to Sinai in a few weeks to collect our service streaming equipment which would never have happened otherwise.”

The weekend was a triumph for Sarita Robinson, MRJ’s Director of Community Partnership for the North, and her team. “The Reform Movement is all about supporting and enabling communities and through events like this we really see the power of us coming together and the impact we can have on a collective scale on environmental issues.”

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen commented, “To spend time singing together with the luxury of catching up with friends from across the north and feeling the energy across the communities, was just wonderful.  Living our Reform Jewish values together, in community, is really a beautiful thing.”

To cap a successful northern weekend Hull Reform received an award for their commitment to combatting the climate emergency. West London Synagogue picked up the only gold award for their impressive environmental changes.

Organised by EcoSynagogue to celebrate those communities who are fully committed to climate change awareness, Hull won praise from the judges and picked up a Bronze Award for making key modifications to synagogue life. 

“We found it interesting and easy to invest in environmental, social, and governance in a friendly way,” said Laura Rhodes. “Now, we’re going to go for the Silver award next year!” 

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