In June, I had the opportunity to visit two great places in Bromley borough.  The first was to Skeet Hill House, located in Orpington, which is a Jewish activity and retreat centre, primarily, though not exclusively, aimed at youth programming.  Skeet Hill House is situated on seven acres of land, has a house that sleeps over seventy people, kosher dining facilities, a tennis court, an open fields ideal for sports, indoor swimming pool, arts and crafts centre, space for a campfire, and a very impressive and unique farm, Sadeh (Hebrew for “field”).   Sadeh is the only Jewish farm in the United Kingdom.  Our Head Teacher, Vicki, and I, were given a great tour by the founder of Sadeh, Talia Chain.  We were both incredibly impressed by the beautiful setting and the wonderful work that goes on there.   Talia is equal parts horticulturist and Jewish educator.   One minute she explained to us how the slope of the land affected irrigation and the next moment she was emphasizing how Judaism had a heavy focus on agriculture in Biblical times.   She talked about bringing people in to get them working the land, planting all sorts of things and really connecting with Judaism’s agricultural heritage.  Vicki, Talia and I are eager to share Jewish farming and other activities that Skeet Hill House and Sadeh have to offer to both youth and adults in our synagogue.  Look for great opportunities in the Jewish year 5778.

My second visit this past month was to the Keston Mosque, Al-Emaan Centre, for iftar, the break-fast meal at the end of the day during the month of Ramadan.   The mosque was filled with many of their members, but also a diverse group of Jews, Christians, representatives of various civic groups as well the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bromley.  While it was my second time to the mosque, it was my first time ever to attend an iftar, and it was a great experience. I was particularly moved by the hospitality at the mosque and their desire to build bridges of understanding between the various communities.  I’m also very excited about a joint initiative between our synagogue, the mosque, and Churches Together in Bromley to do various things together, including panel discussions, a multi-faith Baby and Toddler group, and social action and social justice projects, such as assisting refugees.    Keep an eye out in Highlight, e-Light and our website for various multi-faith activities that you can take part in.

The great rabbinic sage Hillel the Elder taught us that we should be a part of our community.  Well, in Bromley we have a great community with wonderful neighbours, and I look forward to us having meaningful, nourishing and positive relationships with them.




Rabbi Jason Holtz