As I near the end of my unexpected year as chair of the Synagogue, I thought I might reflect on time past, time present and time future.

Time Past

As we enjoy our 50th year as a community, we have so much to celebrate. We’re not just surviving – we are thriving. Our Cheder is growing and the shul is vibrant and full of plans. Our Jubilee events and celebrations are starting and we have a truly amazing calendar of activities – please look carefully at the list of events elsewhere on this page and put the dates in your diary.

Within the year we have said grateful thank yous to Rabbi Hammond and to Elka Carr as Cheder head teacher and welcomed Rabbi Holtz and Vicki Ashmore as Cheder head. We have continued to improve our building with a new porch and the excellent ramp to the bimah. And we have started many new initiatives – from supporting the homeless through the 999 Club to reaching out more widely through Facebook and Twitter and to reinvigorating our youth programmes.

Time Present

Right now, thoughts are turning to spring (if we can imagine life beyond the current wintry deluges!) and that means Passover. We will, of course, be running communal events, but if anyone can’t make those or wants to attend a home seder or knows someone who has no seder to go to – please contact me or the office and we will try to find suitable arrangements.

Spring also means gardening – and we desperately need a volunteer gardener. If you have some basic gardening knowledge and a few hours a month to spare, please get in touch!

And it also means it’s our Annual General Meeting – on Tuesday, 18 March – which is an important event in the calendar. This is about your community – an evening to reflect on where we are, to thank the so many who contribute and to celebrate our achievements. Please do come.

Time Future

And so to the year ahead. Not just the amazing line-up of events for the Jubilee awaits us. We will very shortly be unveiling our fantastic new website and starting a communal exploration of where we want to be going and how we fit into the very new landscape of Jewish life in this country (much more on this to follow).

And finally, looking much, much further ahead. Money. We are very fortunate that we all contribute generously with time and money to maintain the synagogue and occasionally we are massively helped by legacies from beloved members who remember us in their wills. So I end with one of my favourite statistics; the average life expectancy of someone dying without a will is 69; of someone with a will is 79, and of someone with a will containing a legacy to charity is 82!

I wish you all a long and wonderful life!

Matthew de Lange, Chairman