Chairman's address on Yom Kippur

Shana tova    
I have been advised by some of our past chairmen that they would often start their annual address with a joke. However, as I am very bad at telling jokes  I decided to break with that tradition.  Instead I would like to start by saying that I have some good news ……. and some not so good news for you.

First the not so good news.  This year you have me standing here! I apologise for not being able to speak to you last Yom Kippur and I thank my two vice chairman, Janet Brand and Jeremy Harrod, for giving the address in my absence.  I was comforted to hear how well their words had been received.  So… if my address goes badly today… they will probably be back this time next year!

Now for the good news ---- I was informed by the powers that be that Chairman like to talk ,so they told me  that if my address takes no longer than five minutes, we can all finish earlier today!

Traditionally, the Chairman stands here each Yom Kippur and highlights the Synagogue’s achievements over the year.  I am confident that most members will already know of these, having received the Trustees Report  sent out in May, just prior to our AGM; the recently published Yearbook, sent  out just before the Chagim; or our beloved Emet, sent out nearly every month and of course `Our Week Ahead`.   

As each new year starts, so we begin a refreshed programme of education, prayer, social activities and events across all ages and tastes.  It’s been a great year and today I would like  to acknowledge some of the help we have received by saying some thank yous :
¬    To  all our loyal members of staff, in all areas of the Synagogue:  thank you.
¬    To all our trustees: the honorary officers and council members, plus president, past  presidents and vice presidents who offer advice “on tap” throughout the year: thank you.   
¬    To all our unpaid staff – the loyal band of volunteers who run all our committees and groups and help with  too many things to list, – thank you.  
¬    To all of you, whether you join us for prayer or attend our events: thank you for ensuring that EDRS continues to be a strong and lively Synagogue.
¬    To all those who have ensured that our community has been strong and vibrant for the past 80 years.   Thank you all.

Yes - in case you missed it - this year we celebrate our 80th anniversary.  What a wonderful achievement this is.   And what a wonderful year it has been, starting off with a very successful membership survey which Janet and Jeremy spoke of last year.

As hoped, we had an outstanding response from 500 of you and this has helped us understand how our members think about EDRS; what you believe we are doing well (which, thankfully, is significant); and where you feel there is room for improvement.  It may be easier to stand still and continue doing the same things we have done year in and year out, but I honestly believe that the most limiting argument any organisation wanting to move forward  is: “But we’ve always done it this way”.    

It is imperative that we remember our past with pride. There is a great sense of achievement and tradition from the lessons learned and handed down over the years.  And if we are to look to the future, we must bring about positive change where appropriate.  I’m not advocating change for the sake of change - I’m a firm believer in the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ – but there is always room for improvement and some changes have already been implemented.

One recent change is that we have started streaming our religious Services  in the main synagogue so that members can enjoy being part of our Holy community – directly from their computer screen, either because they may be away or, unfortunately, are too ill to leave their home.
(To all of them watching from wherever they are `SHANA TOVA`) to you.

One area highlighted by the survey as “could try harder” is what we are able to do for the younger generation: young adults, newly-weds and young families. The future of our community.  I am delighted to announce that Rabbi Emily Jurman  who was ordained this July , will now work part-time with our Rabbinic team for a 3-year term.  Emily will add her support to these areas and I’m sure we will witness both Emily and our younger generation as they gain momentum over the coming years.   

In June of this year you should have received a letter advising that we are in the very early stages of talks with Hendon Reform Synagogue regarding the possible merger of our two communities, bringing Hendon’s membership here to 118 Stonegrove.  It is inevitable that in years to come, we will face the same problems that Hendon does now.  Forging a stronger community together can give us all a new lease of life.  You have my word that if this does progress to a proposal for a merger, our members will be invited to have the final say at a special meeting.   
Communities succeed when they work and grow together.  Or should I say: when they ‘work, rest and pray together’.  As a strong community, successful because of the love and support of so many people as mentioned earlier, we can all look forward to a bright, long term future together.   

So here’s to the next 80 years and more!

Shana tova

Stephen Garfinkel
Chair - EDRS.


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