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HHD Appeals 5774

September 13, 2013

When I wrote my piece for the latest issue of our Bimah magazine, I explained why we did not include Woodford in last year’s appeal.  To briefly recap, I said the intention was to seek your financial support for the refurbishment project but that we had not made progress as quickly as we had hoped.  I did not go into details, and I do not propose to do so today, but I do want to make clear that while not making as much progress as we had hoped – there has been some progress over the last year.

In fact, if we had one of those appeal thermometers outside our Synagogue indicating progress on the appeal, our thermometer would indicate that we are about 25% towards the target.  The lack of speed in making progress, is partly because we have not got round to seeking pledges from as many members as we would had hoped too, partly due to slow progress with grant funding applications, and also because other fund raising activities have not progressed as quickly as we had hoped.

Rest assured, however, progress is being made and it is hoped that by the Annual General Meeting in May we will be able report further progress – with the temperature indicated by our imaginary thermometer being closer still to the target.

Today, however, I am here to make the High Holy Days appeal – the annual request for Tzedakah made by all Jewish communities in support of many worthy causes.  As is the usual Woodford tradition, we aimed to nominate three charities – one being a UK based charity, one being a charity based in Israel, and the other being Woodford itself.

By tradition, we usually have something specific to ask you to support at Woodford – new books, restoration of a Torah scroll, etc.  This year we are not making a specific appeal, we are asking you to remember that our Synagogue is a charity – yes you pay us member fees and from those fees we fund the day to day activities that must be done to keep the Synagogue running.  However, as a charity, there is so much more we could be doing and so much that we want to do – that is why we are asking you to support an open appeal for Woodford.  We do not yet know how we will spend the money raised – that is a decision that will be made when we know how much we have raised and, therefore, how best to use the results of the appeal.

This year, Council thought long and hard about what others charities to support.  Firstly, we received a number of very worthy nominations from members; and secondly we have in recent years supported many of the Jewish or Israeli based charities that made specific High Holy Days appeal to Woodford.

Our deliberations failed to reach a conclusion and so we organised a secret vote to decide which of your nominated charities to support.  The result of that vote is our decision to ask you to support Pancreatic Cancer Research – I am pleased to say that Jenny Sclaire, who nominated Pancreatic Cancer Research, is here to say a few words about this charity.

“On Wednesday 15th February 2012 my world turned upside down when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I was not really unwell but I had that feeling of not being right, so I consulted a specialist, never thinking for one moment what the outcome would be.  After a long operation and six months chemotherapy I consider myself one of the lucky ones, and to date I have been 18 months clear and I bless every day I am still here.  This silent cancer has been highlighted lately by a storyline in Coronation Street, where a character was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from a routine blood test.  In her case the condition has gone too far to be treated.

Forty years ago few children survived childhood leukaemia, now that survival rate is 80%.

Forty years ago only 46% of women and men diagnosed with breast cancer survived five years or more, that figure is now also 80%.

Forty years ago only 3% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived five years or more, today the figure is still only 3%.

This cancer rarely makes the headlines and unless directly affected, few people are aware of the disease and the need for more research.  The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund was set up in 2004 and exists not only to address these issues but to be the voice of pancreatic cancer sufferers, and argue for a fair allocation of research funding and attention.  This is why I am so passionate about this charity and I hope you will help me to support it.”

Two final comments from me, firstly while it meant that Council had to think very hard over which charities to nominate, it was great to receive more nominations from you the membership of Woodford.  I know that Council and, I suspect the wider membership, prefer to support charities that are known to members of our community – rather than ones we know little about or have no connection too.  This is why we are not nominating a third charity – the Israel based or UK based Jewish charities who made unsolicited appeals have either been supported in recent years, or they are unknown to us, and – in some cases – may not be fully supportive of the ethos of Liberal Judaism.  So when we make our annual requests for nominations for charities to be considered for next Years High Holy Days appeals – please do tell us the charities you support.

And finally – as many of you will know, we are a community of about 320 plus members. Sadly, every year some of our members pass away or leave for various reasons; but more happily each year we welcome new families into our community.  We have a thriving Cheder and new families – including young couples do join our community – some of them are here today for their first High Holy Days in our community and we hope it is the first of many more to come.

Our membership secretary and the membership committee that works with her do a great job of turning interest in our community into new members.  Plans are being prepared for a proposed open day to meet our neighbours in Marlborough Road and welcome potential new members.  The best advocates for Woodford are each of you – the membership.  So when you are talking to family, friends, neighbours or others please put in a good word for Woodford – if each member in our community were to recruit one new member we would double the size of our community – and think how strong Woodford would be if we were a community of over 700 members.  That might be ambitious – but we could do so much more if we were a community of 400 or 450 members instead of a community of 320 plus.

Thank you – I wish you all Shana Tova and well over fast.

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