Sunday, 28 April 2013

Running for Building

On 26 May 2013 I will be doing something I've never done before - attempt to run 10km in the Community Fun Run. I don't have an incredible against-the-odds story of how I'm able to run this distance, since I enjoy playing sport and am training well. But until recently I didn't contemplate running for charity because I felt that there were many good people running for many good causes.

Until I heard of an idea to get 100 runners raise £100 each for the Redbridge Jewish Education Renewal Project - rebuilding Ilford Jewish Primary School on the site of King Solomon High School, creating a Jewish educational campus from 2-18, and building new facilities for King Solomon, such as new art, music and sixth form blocks.

I am proud to be running for this project - and I'd like to tell you why.

I am thankful to IJPS, my primary school, for the Jewish and secular education they gave to me, setting me on a good path in life. I loved school, and I left it well-prepared for secondary school life. Most importantly, it was my Jewish Studies teachers at IJPS who inspired me - never forced me - to start keeping Shabbat, build a Sukkah and be proud to be Jewish - and so I continued to wear a kippa all the time once I left. I bentsch the IJPS way, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish songs and I still sing the Demonstration Seder tunes with my family at Pesach! IJPS is still producing children in the same way, who are knowledgeable about Judaism, love Israel and are proud to be Jewish. The school deserves a new building, and the community will be the richer for it.

Having worked at KSHS for a year and a half, I believe that I have one of the most exciting jobs in Jewish education in the UK. I have the privilege of teaching hundreds of enthusiastic and proud Jewish students about how to lead a Jewish life growing up in Redbridge, and also sharing the wonderful values of Judaism with enthusiastic and respectful non-Jewish students. KSHS is a place where Jewish students are able to really develop their Jewish identity through Israel and Poland trips, Shabbatonim, celebrating festivals in school such as Purim and Yom Ha'atzmaut, charity projects and Jewish Studies and Ivrit lessons. I hope that I can give to students at KSHS what I received at IJPS and watch the next generation of the Redbridge Jewish community grow into leaders, proud of their heritage and identity.

IJPS and KSHS are invaluable to the future of the Redbridge Jewish community and they deserve our support. Someone told me that running for a building project is not the most glamorous thing to raise money for - but I hope I have demonstrated that this is far from the case. On 26 May, please support a real community effort where teachers, students, parents and governors of our schools will aim to raise £10,000 for a cause that matters. Click here to make your donation - thank you for your support!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Yom Hashoah - A challenge of memory

Two years ago, the Chief Rabbi held his annual Yom Hashoah service in Ilford United Synagogue, attracting many hundreds of people, including many local communal leaders and dignitaries.

Tonight, in the Redbridge JCC (Sinclair House), there were approximately 40 people who came to a Yom Hashoah service, run by the youth of the community and featuring Holocaust survivor and local resident Bob Obuchowski.

I do not intend to attribute blame for this clear discrepancy, as there may be explanations for why many people did not attend, but I do feel it is important to make people aware that it exists. Yom Hashoah is an important day in the Jewish calendar and, despite its awkward positioning in between Pesach and Yom Ha'atzmaut, deserves the highest priority on the communal calendar. The unifying nature of Holocaust commemoration can bring the Jewish community together more than most things and it is important to have large scale events where this is highlighted.

This evening's events should be a wake-up call to the community that we must reach a time where people do not let Yom Hashoah pass without attending a public commemoration of the Holocaust.