The Movement for Reform Judaism held another successful online fundraising evening on the 7th of October, showcasing the work the Movement does for our members and the wider Jewish community.
Joey Leskin, one of our newest Board members, acted as our inspirational and exuberant host for the evening. Speaking of his background growing up in a Yemeni-Jewish household with very little local Jewish community, Joey commented on the huge role RSY-Netzer played in shaping his Jewish life. Whilst working in Turkey for the JDC, Joey adapted the RSY-Netzer leadership development curriculum and integrated it into all three Jewish youth movements in Turkey; one example of our international impact as a movement.
Our chair Robert Wiltshire formally welcomed our guests and spoke movingly of the need to ensure a thriving Jewish future for our young people. It was then turn for our young people to take centre stage, as current leaders in RSY-Netzer spoke of the impact and value the youth movement holds for them. Reflecting on her time in the movement, current Movement Worker Az Simble stated “RSY-Netzer to me is a community like no other. I have felt inspired and also empowered to practise my Judaism in a way that I didn’t see possible.” Phoebe Decker, a current Movement Worker, finished by thanking the generosity of our donors in supporting over three hundred young people to attend a RSY-Netzer residential event this summer.
Guests then heard emotional testimonies from those supported by the Movement’s care and leadership sessions. “Our weekly group has given us the chance to be heard and supported during these unprecedented times in a safe, gentle, caring space. We can probably never thank you enough for your support through this part of our life journeys” said one member of the Movement’s Bereavement support group. Sophia Poznansky, one of the co-leaders of Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue’s Membership Engagement team, explained how coaching and facilitation by the Movement is revitalising Synagogue life in her community.
“Their facilitation and training has been sensitive to our specific needs, tailor made to our community and committed to deep process rather than easy fixes. What is special about the movement’s involvement is that they themselves model the importance of relational community by offering a service that feels personally connected and a level of support that feels as if it will be there to lean on until the job is done!”
The evening then turned to look at how the Movement has used its voice to advocate for our values in the Jewish community and beyond. Ben Lewis, who represents us to the Board of Deputies, spoke about the importance of having a Reform voice in our Jewish communal institutions and the successful ways our deputies have influenced the Board’s position on issues which matter to us. This was followed by a video showcasing an impressive selection of our media appearances from the last year, from podcasts to papers.
Our board member Daniel Mackintosh delivered a moving appeal, where he talked about how Reform Judaism became a lifeline connecting him to Jewish life after seeking a home that accepted his bisexual identity and where women could say Kaddish. We are humbled and grateful for the donations we received this year despite a challenging climate, which will be used to ensure a future for Reform Jewish life in this country.
The evening finished with a prayer for our communities by co-chair of our Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors Rabbi Middleton and an uplifting musical medley of our choirs singing through Covid, which can be viewed below.