> The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom
The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom









Chagigah 2012 saw over 270 people representing three quarters of MRJ communities. Representing Hull were Ann Bush, Heather Harris, Aimi Sugarman, Sarita Robinson and Fabian Knies. This article was re-printed from Reform Judaism News on 19 July 2012.

Chagigah 2012 took place in the Northamptonshire countryside over the weekend of 22nd-24th June. In the words of Rabbi Lionel Blue it was happiest Reform conference ever and a strong sense of warmth, pride, optimism and inclusion permeated the event. Featuring wonderful, music-filled services and varied sessions with inspiring speakers and educators, the weekend offered learning opportunities for all ages and levels. There were innovative and practical ideas and resources to take back to communities, with a strong focus on education and learning.

Shabbat morning saw an innovative Torah service with six Torah scrolls being held high above the combined congregations from three different shacherit services. Evocative of the ancient practice of reading from the Torah in the market place, people gathered in groups around each scroll making the blessings for the reading in joyful unison. Rabbi Laura Jenner-Klausner; Rabbi to the Movement then gave a D'var Torah in which she stressed that Reform Judaism is not just about making choices: "Reform Judaism is not Excuse Judaism... Our Judaism involves living a life of integrity by matching what we say with what we do... and aligning what we do with what we believe."

Rabbi Laura, together with Rabbi Josh Levy underlined this with the launch of 'L'Chaim', the Reform Movement's national adult education programme which is about action, how we live and how we give substance to our choices. L'Chaim emphasises how we live as Reform Jews rather than just how we choose. The programme enables communities to study, discuss, explain and analyse the core features of Reform Judaism using film, texts and discussion. Music and song featured strongly with a common musical motif running throughout the weekend. Led by Cantor Zoe Jacobs of Finchley Reform Synagogue and Rabbi Golan Ben-Chorin who came over from Israel especially for the event, this part of the programme was a great opportunity for communities to explore new music to add variety and depth to services.

Sarah Glatherine, a participant from Sinai Synagogue in Leeds says: "A highlight was spending time with a community in a rich, joyful and celebratory atmosphere. It was noticeable that the faces of people, all too grey from the stress of everyday life, were animated with colour and vigour."

Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger of West London Synagogue made the keynote speech at the weekend, urging us to be brave, unapologetically ideological and determined activists for social justice. "We must up our game" she said, "to make the world a better place."

Jenny Pizer, MRJ Chair noted that the invited guests from this country and abroad were "impressed and overwhelmed" by the British Reform community and that the event was "the warmest, friendliest and best organised that we've ever seen".

Pam Goldsmith, MRJ's Director of Community Development and conference organiser said: "Chagigah, means a celebration. In re-naming our biennial conference we sought to reflect the spirit of a joyful, fun, uplifting, spiritual, family-friendly gathering and to create a community, and this is exactly what was achieved."

In his closing address, MRJ Chief Executive, Ben Rich said: "Progressive Judaism is not a branch of Judaism. It is Judaism. Judaism has always and should always progress, to incorporate today's understanding and ensure its relevance to the modem world." He summed up the spirit of the weekend saying: "We are one Movement together and we've never been stronger. This is our moment".


Ne've Shalom
Great Gutter Lane
HU10 6DP



Designed and managed by Grizedale Graphics

Click to contact us