Unless you have been on another planet, or perhaps extremely busy, you must have noticed that the Jubilee year with all its events is underway now at Beit Or. The shul always tries to offer events of interest to every sector of the community, but this year we are on overdrive, it seems to me!

However, we all need to remember that these talks, meals, services, etc. don’t just happen by magic (pixies and leprechauns aren’t a big part of Jewish tradition). Fellow shul members turn up early to set up, manage and steward, and then tidy up afterwards. They are happy to do it, and enjoy being part of a successful team that facilitates these occasions. But what makes it really worthwhile is when you attend. Unfortunately, some recent events had disappointing attendance. You might have heard Barbara Kurtz mention this the other morning – and I add my encouragement to hers. Please come along to any and all planned events that catch your fancy (details as always in Highlight, and available electronically too, courtesy of our awesome new website).

You will notice also that while many events are free to attend, others require tickets, which cost money. While it would be lovely to be able to offer everything for free, that simply is not realistic, and would hamper our ability to arrange so many different sorts of entertainment. A Jewish event wouldn’t be nearly as Jewish without some type of refreshment, and I have discovered over the past 30 years that a British event wouldn’t be as British without tea, although coffee is generally available as well. Tea, coffee and cakes cost money and I’m sorry to say the shul simply is not able to underwrite this cost for every event. By mixing free and ticketed events, we are able to use some of the funds from the ticketed events to subsidise the free events.

I must stress that our speakers (Anthony Seldon in June, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow in September and Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger in November) are not being paid for their visits, which must be due in part to the silver tongues of the Shul members who manage to lure them “south of the river”.  Thank you to those who work behind the scenes to establish this lecture series. If we paid the lecturers, the costs would be far higher.

Running a synagogue costs – there are no ways to get around this fact. Membership fees meet much of this and I have always been very impressed with how carefully our funds are spent. I couldn’t say anything else but that your membership represents excellent value! In this Jubilee year a great deal of effort has been taken to enrich the life of the community and it makes good sense to ask participants to contribute.

Check out Highlight for what’s on – this June I am particularly looking forward with interest to the visit of Cantor Janece Cohen from Tucson, Arizona – and I warmly invite you to come along to as many events as you can possibly squeeze into your busy schedules. The organisers will be happy to see a big crowd, and you will learn something new, meet more members, and (I can almost guarantee) enjoy yourself.

Joanna Koenigsberg, Chairman