More than 150 people packed the celebratory launch of The Lyon’s Learning Project, the UK’s latest Jewish education initiative in West London Synagogue’s Stern Hall on Monday evening, 25 January. They were captivated by the guest speaker, Thomas Harding, and inspired to take their learning further by powerful testimony from members on the night and on video.
West London Synagogue’s Senior Rabbi, Baroness Julia Neuberger, welcomed guests and acknowledged the generosity of the legacy that facilitated the creation of The Lyons Learning Project before introducing Rabbi Neil Janes.
Under Rabbi Janes’ leadership, the mission of the Lyons Learning Project is to offer transformative Jewish learning opportunities for adults that focus on enlarging the Jewish conversation and community life. Rabbi Janes enthused the audience with the courses on offer and said the project would once again place learning at the heart of our communities. He also introduced the news that the Lyons Learning Project plans to run the Melton Courses in September 2016 and was also keen to offer breakfast and lunchtime classes in people’s place of work.
Thomas Harding spoke brilliantly about his book The House by the Lake, based on his family’s experience in pre-war Berlin. He likened the lessons of his book to the key principle of The Lyon’s Learning Project, that history can provide unexpectedly appropriate messages for future generations. A thoroughly engaged and visibly moved audience quizzed the author about the book and in particular about the revelations thrown up by research.
Rabbi Janes said: “Thomas Harding’s description was stunning and deeply moving, we were so grateful that he could give his time to the launch of the Lyons Learning Project. We must create vibrant communal conversations and embody the adage in Mishnah Avot 2:4 in the name of Hillel, ‘Do not say when I have free time I will study, perhaps you will never have free time.’ Now is the time; The Lyons Learning Project is the place; the conversation is ours for the making”.
He encouraged people to participate in Project Zeraim, an online initiative of the Lyons Learning Project.