The Board has 18 elected members and met ten times in the past year.  The Executive also met via zoom on several occasions, as needed.

Kol Nidre Appeal

As always the Board selected three charities in addition to the shul for our Kol Nidre Appeal.  These charities were Leket Israel (£3,188), Sadeh Farm (£4,352), Roundabout (£3,133) and our Shul (£8,121.60). Our community can be congratulated for its generosity.


Religion and Ritual (Marilyn Freeman)

The Religion and Ritual Committee’s function is organising and overseeing the Religious side of the Synagogue, Services, and Festivals etc. and to support the Rabbi. We are so fortunate to have Laura as our Rabbi to guide us. Pesach was once again celebrated in the building with Rabbi Laura leading theCommunal Seder, many thanks to Janvier and her team – I’m sure she is looking for helpers for this year.

Since the last AGM we have had (by my count) 9 B’nai Mitzvah including 4 adults with another 4+1 in the next couple of months. The BM breakfasts continue, led now by Rabbi Laura and thanks especially to Sharon Solomon and Sonia Hyams as BM Coordinators. It is great to see the previous BM contingent involved.

The High Holy Days were, again held in Highland Road and were well attended with a Children’s service in the Goldberg Garden Room, thanks to the teachers and helpers who organised this. Of course the Services were also streamed on YouTube. Thanks go to Kieron who sets it all up. We also broadcast the Services to a downstairs classroom. Thanks again to Judy Taylor for organising the Community Choir for the HHD. Under the leadership of Ruth Beckman and the addition of a couple of professional singers to our augmented choir, our lay readers and of course Rabbi Laura we had very meaningful Services. The Community Choir has also sung at the B’nei Mitzvah with Ruth leading. The HHD Services this coming year will be different. We shall be using the new Machzor – I’m sure the R&R committee will be very busy with Rabbi Laura preparing the Services. We encourage all members to buy their own blue set.

We built a Succah, which was decorated by the children, and we honoured Heidi and Larry at Simchat Torah. At this moment we cannot forget the terrible events on the morning of Simchat Torah.

Chanukah was celebrated in area groups and people’s homes thanks are due to Judi Sheffrin for arranging the various lightings. There were also events in some of the local Boroughs – Lewisham laid on a good spread!

Of course we have regular Shabbat morning Services led twice a month by Rabbi Laura and apart from B’nai Mitzvah there have been baby blessings and Giyur ceremonies. The other weeks the Services are conducted and Torah read by our wonderful pool of lay readers, thank you John for organising the rota.  We have welcomed Student Rabbi Eleanor Davis twice to date, she has conducted Shabbat Services and afterwards led Lunch and Learn sessions, she will be with us three times in April while Rabbi Laura is on her Sabbatical.

Members who are unable to attend in person are now able through the wonders of YouTube technology to watch Services online, thank you again Kieron and your team of streamers.

We shall be celebrating Purim this coming Saturday evening – after the morning BM of Yuri Solomon, with the Megillah reading and hamantaschen. The children will be celebrating on Sunday morning during Cheder.

Services don’t just happen, apart from the Service leaders and Torah readers the Wardens must be thanked for the running of the Service, allocating Mitzvoth and making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible, our new lighter Torah scroll enables more people to have the Mitzvah of Hagba. It would be lovely if we had some extra wardens to lighten the load. Thanks must go to the ‘regular’ choir now few in number but loud in voice, a few more regular singers would be very welcome.

Thanks to the R&R committee especially Judi who does the minutes and again everyone who helps in running the ritual side of the Shul.  I am retiring as Senior Warden this year and handing over to Michael Abrahams, I know the R&R will be in safe hands.

Caring Community (Judy Taylor)

This year the Caring Community has continued supporting members across the community in a variety of ways.  The Social Centre which is run by (and reported on below) by Barbara, and the Tea Parties are both regular fixtures in the BRS calendar.  The Tea Parties, run by Jacqueline Harvey, are now operating independently (no longer under the umbrella of Jewish Care) and take place at BRS.  Both these core CC activities support the older members of the community, and I offer my continued thanks to Barbara and Jacqueline for their hard work and dedication in running the events, and to all the committed volunteers who work so hard to make them run smoothly.

Alongside Social Centre, Tea Parties and Knit and Natter, the CC works closely with Rabbi Laura to support community members in a variety of ways including making occasional visits and phone calls, arranging lifts or using the transport fund to contribute to taxi costs and in some cases offering more regular support where needed.   Our committee members are in regular contact with a number of individuals and families and it is a testament to the strength of the Bromley community that there is so much willingness to offer support where needed.  Thank you to all involved.

Other news from Caring Community:

  • Janet Posner reports that this year we installed 10 Ash Memorials at Kemnal Park for members to inter their loved one’s ashes and add an inscription. Huge thanks to Janet and Sharon Solomon for the invaluable work she does on BRS behalf with Kemnal Park and the JJBS.
  • This year, along with others in the community, our volunteers have been offered the opportunity to undertake refresher training in food hygiene and first aid.
  • The MacMillan coffee morning, led by CC volunteers in previous years, took place in October and was run by the cheder PTA on a Sunday morning, raising £511. Many thanks to all who baked and came to enjoy the event!
  • BRS continues to support and attend The Forum, which meets 3 times a year to provide social care training and information for the Jewish Community in South London.
  • Last year we were approached by a new employee of Bromley Council, tasked with tackling loneliness in the borough. They offered to have cards made for members of our community by local schoolchildren and we advised that Rosh Hashanah would be an ideal opportunity.   A large amount of beautifully made cards arrived in time for the High holidays and were distributed to those attending the social centre as well as being made available for anyone in the community to enjoy.  This was a lovely initiative, which we were happy to be a part of.

Plans for 2024 include encouraging more opportunities to link the current B’nai Mitzvah students and the older members of the community.  This will hopefully include repeating the successful intergenerational tea party, first held in 2022, which would be organised and run by the students.

Huge thanks from me to Rabbi Laura for her guidance and support, to Michelle who as BRS chair has been a dedicated member of the CC committee, and to everyone involved on the committee or as a volunteer.

Knit, natter & Stitch (Barbara Kurtz)

Our small, friendly group has been meeting monthly – to natter, knit and stitch in that order!  We continue to provide the premature baby unit at the PRUH with a selection of blankets, quilts, cannula mitts and toy animals. Val Barnett is our champion animal maker and her large varieties of small toys are much appreciated initially by parents who love to see them in their babies’ incubators.  And I’m sure the babies love them, as they grow stronger and able to leave to go home taking the toys with them. The parents also take the quilts and blankets home.

We have once again provided hats, scarves, knitted bears, pencil cases etc. to add to shoeboxes filled by school children.  They then went off to Eastern Europe to give some Xmas cheer to disadvantaged children and their families. New knitters and stitchers are always welcome as are donations of double knitting wool, especially baby wool and fabric with children’s designs suitable for quilts.

Social Centre (Barbara Kurtz)

The Social Centre continues to meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in the Goldberg Room in Shul. Members enjoy coffee and chat, rummikub and scrabble before a session of gentle exercise with Andreas gives them an appetite for lunch.  Our four cooks try to provide a variety of tasty, nutritious food and it is much appreciated. We are delighted to have welcomed a number of new members over the year.  This year members enjoyed variety of talks and musical entertainment. A representative from the JNF spoke about their project of regeneration in the Negev.  Margaret Brearley gave a talk on the Roma people, dressed in their traditional clothing and Sonia Case gave us an illustrated talk on her new book “Burying the Ghosts”.  Music was in abundance with songs from the shows from Jon and Sue, while Tom and David gave us their usual eclectic selection of classical and popular tunes.  The highlight was the return for the Summer Party of Roland Perrin and his clarinettist friend Jeremy – a heart-warming, foot-tapping selection of musical genres from jazz to klezmer to classics. We have also been joined on a number of occasions by representatives of Bromley Healthwatch keen to hear members’ views of health provision in Bromley.  Members are very happy to tell of their experiences and as they keep asking to come back to us, Healthwatch must find their visits worthwhile. Thanks go to all the helpers, to Andreas for keeping us fit and Tom for keeping us safe.

Education including cheder (Amanda Penn/Vicki Ashmore/Sonia Hyams)

The Education Committee said goodbye to its Chair, Amanda Penn, in November 2023, though it wasn’t really a goodbye, as Amanda remains an active member of the committee. We thank her for all her hard work. Vicki Ashmore has acted as temporary Chair until today, with Sonia Hyams taking over officially…right… now! Sonia, we are beyond grateful that you have taken leadership of this committee, and we all look forward to working with you.

This year, the Education Committee has focused on delivering educational programmes that could bring us together and strengthen us as a community. We have employed a youth worker (Einat Aronberg), continued working on a Hebrew curriculum, and are developing a strategy for post B’mitzvah youth programming. Finally, the Education Committee was able to host the Jewish Living Experience Exhibition, more of which will be discussed later.


BRS Chai School Cheder and Gan continue to grow and is now one of the largest Progressive chadarim in London, providing learning sessions for nearly 90 children (with gan included with cheder numbers).

The past year brought a heightened focus on experiences and immersive sessions. Our parents’ active volunteer support allowed us to deliver a colourful Purim celebration, which was enjoyed by over 200 guest BRS Members alongside families exploring BRS for the first time.  Weekly hard work and preparation by our Chai School Team of morim (class learning leaders) and ozrim (helpers) under-pins our success as a joyful kehillah (community) cheder. Parents and non-parent BRS Members, and recent cheder graduates delivered a programme of dynamic group activities, term-long art projects, weekly challah and brachot sessions, parashah drama skits, debates and scenario sessions to help explore key Jewish values and ethics. We marked Holocaust Memorial Day with a speaker from Yad Vashem to encourage participation by those coming up to their B’nei Mitzvah and parents in its B’nei Mitzvah twinning Programme. Gan made a special Chanukah card to visit and take to elderly Members in a nearby residential home. Our yeladim (children) collected tzedakah in cash, books and food bank contributions, donating £181.91 to Cancer Research and over £300 to Bromley Food Bank so far. Each week a space has been provided in the Sanctuary for parents to share and support each other in these difficult times. Rabbi Laura’s parent sessions during cheder have helped strengthen a sense of togetherness and proven popular educational opportunities.

We visited the London Jewish Museum and Jewish eco-farm Sadeh. In the Summer Term we celebrated Shabbat together and took part in a baby blessing service. For the second year running our Chanukah party morning followed a week on from the Chanukah fair, which was especially appreciated by parents this year following October 7th. The move to our largest room enabled us to provide family friendly parallel sessions for the High Holidays which provided sufficient space for interactive services and activities for all age groups.

There are challenges, in common with other Progressive chadarim, the recruitment of morim is the primary on-going challenge. We are addressing this through a variety of routes. This includes a pathway into cheder leading/teaching by supporting parents before they take the plunge and developing cover morim. We introduced a junior morah post to help develop some of our most able ozrim. However, we could use the support of the Board and wider community to help recruit more teachers.  Ozrim posts are oversubscribed as virtually all our post B’nei Mitzvah graduates wish to return. So, a plan for September 2024 with the youth programme is essential to provide opportunities for continued kehillah engagement and involvement.  Space is at a premium because of the total numbers now enrolled and uneven year group sizes.

Looking forward, now that our Head, Frankie Gruzd, has completed work on resources for our 3-year spiral curriculum there’s capacity to enhance our senior kittot sessions through engaging external speakers and to further develop our Hebrew resources. Work on a senior Hebrew curriculum, funded by the Donor Trust and which focuses on “Brachot for Life,” continues.

Adult Education (John Posner)

The shul has continued to provide adult Hebrew classes on Zoom and in conjunction with Shaarei Tsedek Synagogue we have been running a regular Gateway to Judaism (G2J) class for those preparing for conversion. In the first half of the year, Rabbi Laura provided a monthly “Tantalising Texts,” class and John Posner led his Torah Text sessions every fortnight, but these were discontinued due to the outbreak of war in Israel. More recently Rabbi Laura has started a Bat Mitzvah class for adults and has also provided a series of coffee morning sessions for parents during cheder. Visiting student rabbi Eleanor Davis has held study sessions after the Shabbat morning services she has been leading.

Community Education 

In January, the Education Committee hosted the Jewish Living Experience Exhibition – a mobile exhibition created by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Anna Silver from the BOD led a teacher training session for 15 teachers from local schools. This was followed by our official launch evening, with both the Mayor of Greenwich and Deputy Mayor of Bromley in attendance. Finally, we estimate that over 660 children and adults were able to visit the Exhibition and learn more about Judaism in a welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly atmosphere, led by 16 volunteers from our own community. I think we can all agree that this was a success!

Thanks to this success, the Education Committee has voted to host the exhibition again next year. However, we will still need more volunteers to help us achieve our goal of spreading positive Jewish messages to our local community and beyond. No knowledge of Judaism necessary if you don’t want to lead a tour: you could transport the exhibition or help us set it up or take it down. Any help would be appreciated, so please do contact the Education Committee if you wish to take part.

We cannot forget the many many school visits and cubs & scouts visits undertaken by Marilyn Freeman and some volunteers.  More volunteers are needed.


Building on the early success from last year, the youth programme has continued to drive engagement with post-B’mitzvah students. This has been with a focus on three key pillars:

  • Post-B’mitzvah education with approximately 10 students preparing to be Kabbalat Torah led by the Rabbi; this includes attending bi-monthly breakfast groups for discussion and learning, and participating in some Shabbat services.
  • Opportunities to engage in music, either joining the wonderful Klezmer band, providing music at the Hanukah Fair or expanding the choir for B’mitzvah services.
  • Continuing to build friendships and community through a programme of regular social activities including ice skating, bowling, film and pizza afternoons at the shul. This follows the successful recruitment of a new Youth Co-ordinator, Einat Aronberg, who is taking the lead on engagement and the administration of the youth social activities.

The Youth Sub-committee continues to meet on a regular (bi-monthly) basis to drive the programme.

There are challenges, while we have an engaged group of students from the 2022/2023 cohort of B’mitzvah and the younger cohort (2023/2024) are starting to join the social activities, it has been harder to reach and engage with the broader group of young people who are either older (16+yrs) or have not been part of the programme to date. Einat is looking at ways to reach this potentially excluded group, either directly or through parents.

Separately, we are aware of a potential surplus of students wishing to join the Cheder as ozrim and take paid roles within the Cheder after their B’mitzvah. Whilst we do not wish to deter any of the students from continuing their involvement in the community, we are considering how we can ensure that there are enough suitable roles available for those students who go on to become ozrim, and that those that are offered a position are committed and will attend regularly. The Youth Sub-committee are working on a proposal, in collaboration with the Cheder Head Teacher, for a year’s training programme for youth who have completed their B’mitzvah in the previous academic year; this will be different to the regular cheder. It will be run by a paid Ozrim Training Programme Leader, who will develop and lead the year’s programme; we hope this will be trialled from the next academic year (2024/25).

Looking forward we continue to have an exciting range of activities across the three key pillars of engagement; the Kabbalat Torah programme will culminate in a youth-led Shabbat service; on going musical performances, and a series of social activities are now diarised, including a trip to an escape room, a youth-led Passover Seder night and an overnight visit to Sadeh Farm.

Comms Group (Judi Sheffrin)

As usual, this is largely a repeat of last year’s report except that it’s written in far from normal circumstances. We are in touch with the rabbi and chair every day but cannot, with the best will in the world, give adequate time and space to all that goes on at BRS… there is just so much and we have but one e-Light a week and one HighLight a quarter and don’t want to burst members’ inboxes with information overload. Unless members want it! Please let me know if you want more of either or both.

This year I must add Rabbi Laura to my ‘thank you’ list: her snappy, lively updates on her own activities and others that she wants us to know about have added much to the variety and interest of what we have produced. Thanks also, as ever, to Kieron, Laurence and the geek squad, without whom we’d be lost when technical issues arise and Jo Biggin for her unflagging editorial assistance, and to Martha Berg for her help in proof reading.

Sadly, the biggest innovation in 2023 was the series of e-Light extras in the autumn in response to the devastating events in Israel and Gaza. It would be good to know whether members found them useful. Unfortunately, the most common reason for feedback is that something has gone wrong. Every single error is one too many and I’m grateful for everyone’s understanding when this occurs. However, please also let us know if you like something we do or have an innovation to suggest.

And my usual last word: deadlines. There aren’t enough hours in the day or pages in each issue for us to be as flexible as would be ideal, so we need good notice to accommodate all that we receive. Please, therefore, stick to the deadlines that appear in every e-Light and HighLight, and we look forward to helping keep everyone in touch in the coming year. May it be a peaceful one.

Board of Deputies (Joe Millis)

Well, this is it. After almost 12 years of having had the honour and privilege of being your representative on the Board of Deputies, it is time to hand over the reins. I hope I have represented the synagogue’s values and views in this time.  But first… here’s my last report to Bromley’s Annual General Meeting.  The past year, or at least the latter part of it, has naturally been dominated by the terrible events of 7 October when Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel, murdering and kidnapping people and sparking a devastating war.

The Board of Deputies really stepped up to the plate during the war, organising the first Bring Them Home Rally, put together a resource for Jewish employees to help navigate workplace issues following the surge in antisemitism. It also worked with the Community Security Trust, mental health charity Jami and others to set out Top Tips for Psychological Wellbeing during the war, as well as creating a resource for parents of children in non-Jewish schools, and teachers in non-Jewish schools, to help navigate problematic issues.

Bromley has contributed its bit by taking part in the Board’s “Adopt a Hostage” programme. But apart from the — probably short-lived — general agreement surrounding the war, internal politics and the usual fissures in British Jewry bedevilled the Board of Deputies. And it is very difficult to see how the organisation can sustain its claim to being the “Voice of British Jews”. There can be no one “Voice” in such a diverse number of communities.

Bromley has worked with others from the Progressive movement and many of the younger Deputies in trying to get the leadership to be a little more circumspect about Israeli government policies on treatment of minorities, social issues and members of our movement in Israel. I am pleased to report that some progress has been made. And perhaps the next leadership, from July 2024, will take an even more progressive view — but I doubt it, because the organisation remains very small “c” conservative at its core. So there you have it. I wish the next deputy the very best of luck sitting through eight meetings a year — known for some reason as plenaries — of talking shop. I am still deputy until the new three-year term starts in June, so if the new rep would like advice, a shoulder to cry on or someone to absorb a rant, I’m still around.

Council of Christians and Jews SE London (Stephen Weil)

CCJ SE London had three on-site meetings and three off-site meetings in calendar 2023.

In January 2023, we discussed “Christian-Jewish relations mediated through CCJ, from the perspective of SE London Branch Members and Participants” Rev Bernhard Schunemann, Vicar of St Stephen’s, Dulwich, spoke about participating in a  CCJ ten day seminar in autumn 2022 for Christian clergy and church leaders, in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.  Bernhard noted that several of the Participants were Black Church leaders, who were able to bring their historical African experience to the discussions.

BRS member Flora Spiegel spoke about the work of Bromley Three Faiths Group, with a focus primarily on practical work.

Gail Cotton introduced us to multidenominational meditation through a local group meeting weekly in St George’s, Perry Vale.

In our meeting on 14th March 2023, we asked ‘Is there a role today for Christianity and/or Judaism in setting standards for British public service?’  We had two very distinguished and eloquent speakers:

Daniel Greenberg, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; and Rt Hon Simon Hughes, former MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark Battersea. Daniel Greenberg took the view that there is no special authority for religious institutions, and that the principles of public life had to be non-sectarian and universal; while Simon Hughes argued that for 2,000 years Christians have taken a key role in setting standards in this country, and the Chief Rabbi has been vocal in reminding us of the guidance “do as you will be done by”.

On 13th July 2023, in St Stephen’s Church, Dulwich, BRS member Dr Margaret Brearley spoke to us on the subject of “Eradicating Christian and Jewish perceptions of God in the Bible:  Richard Wagner, his pagan musical religion and its consequences”. Dr Brearley showed how Wagner’s operas were intended subliminally to deliver Wagner’s philosophy of restoring paganism and freeing the German Volk (= people) from Judaism and the shackles of the Biblical God.

As for our off-site activities: For the Big Help Out Event, on 8th May 2023, CCJ SE London Branch worked together with Lewisham Creative Chorus, and with Christ Church United Reformed Church, Bellingham to  clean up the area around the Fellowship Inn-Lewisham Music Centre and Bellingham Station, and to offer a Celebration tea in the Church for Neighbours and Volunteers;

On 31st August 2023, we visited St Paul’s Cathedral, within the framework of the St Paul’s Summer Lates of quiet summer late openings; On 12th October 2023, we visited Igthtam Mote to hear a talk on “Searching for and Concealing Religious Identity” by Amanda-Jane Doran, Collections and House Manager, in connection with the Exhibition “Country Houses, Jewish Homes”.

Thanks to St Stephens Dulwich, Bromley Synagogue and Christ Church United Reformed Church for hosting our 2023 meetings, and especially to our Branch Chair, Rev Bernhard  Schunemann.

Housing (Graham Harris)

Work was carried out in 2023/24 as follows:

  • We have had the 2 boilers for the heating replaced, and are awaiting a quote for a remote system to be put in place, so we can activate the boilers remotely.
  • We had our 5 year electrical testing done and all was well.
  • We had the 5 year inspection of the metal fire exit staircase.
  • Dom is doing a great job as caretaker with many good ideas.
  • We have had several windows replaced, as the frames were rotten.
  • We have had a new electric cooker brought and fitted in the kitchen.
  • We had some work done on the roof and some soffits replaced, and rear gutters cleaned.

Regular servicing

The boiler and heating system is serviced annually.

The lift is serviced every 3 months.

The fire extinguishers are serviced every year.

The fire alarm and intruder alarm are serviced every 6 months.

The emergency lights and pat testing are done annually.

The Haydon pumps were serviced and one replaced on the Annual inspection.

The CCTV cameras serviced Annually.

Security (Graham Harris)

I would firstly like to thank all the volunteers who give up their time to help protect our community, especially Tom who looks after our Social centre.

I have managed to get at least 6 people on to the level 1 CST training in Wimbledon on the 3rd March 2024.  It’s so good to get so many new volunteers.  We have also had Act training at the synagogue delivered free by the Police, to which in excess of 12 people attended.  The police also have other training, which we will book in the near future.  We seem to be getting a good police presence at services and drive by’s during the week.  I met with 2 specialist anti-terrorist Police in February, to look at the Synagogue building to see how secure we are, our means of escape, and safe areas during lock down procedures, in case of emergency.  They were very happy with the things we have in place, and made a few suggestions to improve some door security, and suggested installing some blinds in lower level classrooms facing the back.

Lizzy is still doing a great job of security on Sundays with help from Cheder parents. We have received more CST funding for security on Shabbat, so Lizzy has been doing most Saturdays also, which has helped John with the rota and finding volunteers.

Safeguarding & Security committee (Moira Murray)

Moira Murray now chairs the Safeguarding & Security Committee.  It deals with the important areas of safeguarding and security for BRS.  We are lucking to have Moira, an expert in the field of safeguarding and Vicky Hart a social worker, they are updated all of our safeguarding guidelines and carried out an audit to make sure we are complying with legal and RJ rules.  We have comprehensive policies and guidelines in place.  Within this committee we also have Graham Harris who is our expert in security, he has been invaluable especially in light of recent events and has been working closely with the local police, the CST and our security guard Lizzie. Adrian Jackson continues in his role within this committee and deals with DBSs.

Social Group (Lisa Williams)

The Social Group was reformed in early 2023 to organise social events for all BRS members, which reinforce and extend our sense of community and to create opportunities for people to make friends. We also had in mind the importance of helping non-Jewish partners become involved in activities.

So far we have held three events:

Garden Party: We welcomed c.50 members to Margaret Brearley’s garden in July for an afternoon of Pimms, cake, chat and music.

BRS Quiz: The Goldberg Room was packed to capacity with competitive quizzers in November. After a hard fought battle, the Book Worms were victorious.

Jazz Café: Members and their guests were treated to an evening of sublime jazz from Rachel Sutton and the Roland Perrin Trio in February.

Many thanks to the Committee members Sue Blackie, Margaret Brearley and Michelle Brooks Evans (and their long-suffering husbands) for their hard work and to everyone else who has helped wash up and tidy up after events. We would welcome suggestions for events in the coming year, and extra volunteers to join our group.

Area Groups

The concept of Area Groups is not new to BRS as “BRS 5&6” has been running for decades and “SE10 and Beyond” are in the 11thyear.  However this year under the guidance of Matthew de Lange we have expanded the Area Groups within BRS.  This will be a long term project but already Toby Allin has taken on the “Beyond the M25” area and Einat and Laurence Aronberg the “Forest Hill/Catford/Sydenham” area.  We have also had other Area Group leaders in Andrew & Ashley Goldman, Margaret Brearley, and Michael & Laura Mittleman to name a few.  As well as engaging our members within these areas we are working at reaching out to non-affiliated Jewish people in these areas.  We hope to expand these area groups to cover all the areas within our BRS membership.

Community Builder with RJ (Einat Aronberg)

As part of my Community Builder role with RJUK, I have been developing connections and strengthening relationships with members of Bromley Synagogue, especially within our focus boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich. To that end, I have also connected with the area group leaders in those regions so I can assist in any outreach programmes or ask for their help when I run mine.

The first outreach programme we ran was a Hebrew speaker event in October. This was a chance for Israelis to get together and talk about what they are going through as a community, meet Rabbi Laura and to build new connections. This was attended by around 20 people overall and was well received. We ran another one in December; this time I created a database of the contacts so I can easily communicate all future events with them.

In December I also ran an outreach programme in Forest Hill, Lewisham for a Hannukah candle lighting event. I used word of mouth and social media to invite people to a local pub where I rented a space. This was very well attended, the room had space for 30 people, and we had 25 overall, only a few were existing members.

Going forward we have a few plans in place.

Firstly, we are expanding our Purim festivities into a Purim fair with food, music and games. This will enable us to invite more people and encourage circulation.

We are also considering hosting a mini-Passover Seder for those with young families, we are looking at around 8-10 families (2-3 of these will be members already).

Finally, I am in touch with Streetwise for them to deliver their updated programme for the youth on coping with antisemitism at schools and on the streets. I will assess whether we can open this up to other Jewish people in our areas as well – potentially locally or at our synagogue.

In conclusion

I would like to thank the Board, committees, sub committees and various groups and all BRS members.  A special thanks to Marilyn Freeman and John Posner who are stepping down from the Board, and Joe Millis who in June will be stepping down as the Board of Deputies rep for BRS.  It has been a privilege and honour to be the Chair for the past 5 years and to be on the Board for the past 7 years.  I am humbled by the time and hard work so many give to BRS. There is an immense amount of work that goes into ensure our community is cared for, some of it is clearly visible but there are so many acts of loving kindness that go unrecognized.  To those people THANK YOU, this is what makes our community so special.

Finally a special thanks to all my vice chairs but especially Kieron Hyams, my partner through the tough times. To Rabbi Laura for being my friend and Rabbi, and lastly to Matthew de Lange for being my mentor and confidant, I could not have done this without your support.

Michelle Brooks Evans