One of the pleasures of being Chair of Council is that it falls to me to talk about the Kol Nidre appeal. I say it is a pleasure to do so because I believe that the three charities, chosen by Council, are all worthy causes, which deserve your support and your generosity. As is normal at Woodford, we have chosen three charities – one from Israel, one from the United Kingdom, and one closer to our own community.
At this time of year there are many deserving causes seeking help and therefore it is with great care that Council has chosen the three charities. This year we have chosen smaller charities, each with a specific role and purpose. I hope you will agree that even in the current economic climate they are all deserving causes and that you will give generously in response to this appeal.
For our Israeli charity we have chosen the UK based “My Israel” – you can find details of My Israel on their website, www.myisraelcharity.org. This is a relatively new charity, established in March 2008, which acts as an umbrella appeal on behalf of a number of small Israeli charities. The projects that My Israel supports cover a wide range of good causes including (but not exclusively):
Riding lessons for the disabled
Sport therapy for soldiers or victims of terror attacks
Counselling for victims of rape or sexual abuse
Outreach programmes for vulnerable teenagers
Dental treatment for poor families
Support for Ethiopian immigrants
Helping the elderly to keep active
Support services for fiancés & girlfriends of fallen soldiers
Food parcels for the needy
Support for families where someone in the family has cancer
In all My Israel supports 18 different charities – charities that are too small to make overseas appeals. It should also be noted that because all the overheads of My Israel are covered by a separately funded donation, all the money we raise through our appeal will be donated to the supported charities.
The second charity we are asking you to support is the London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy – their website is www.cplondon.org.uk. This charity was originally established in 1963 by Peter Rigby, who was the then Mayor of Hornsey, to support disabled children. It has developed into a specialist centre for children who have Cerebral Palsy and their families. Since 1999 it has been recognised as a school offering Conductive Education and the National Curriculum up to key stage one (that is up to age seven). In 2007, this was extended to cover key stage two (up to age eleven).
Conductive Education – merges education and physical training into a holistic programme tailored to each child’s needs. The teacher is like a conductor guiding an orchestra – only they are conducting the child through their training programme and educational development. The aim is to teach the children physical skills to cope with everyday situations – tasks that the child would normally struggle to perform because of the physical disabilities caused by their Cerebral Palsy.
As well as offering schooling to children; the centre also offers support services and training for parents, teachers, other schools, carers, or indeed anyone who needs to know more about Conductive Education or looking after a disabled child. It is the only specialist centre in London offering these services to children and their families.
The third charity we are asking you to support – is the one charity that we all have in common, because we are its members. It is, of course, Woodford Liberal Synagogue. I am going to ask to do two things for our community – one that involves raisings funds and one that involves giving your time.
Firstly, as you all know, we are raising funds for the restoration of our Torah scrolls. The first scroll has now been restored and we will be holding a special service in the afternoon of Sunday 16 October to welcome it back to Woodford. We will be sending out full details of the service as soon as the details have been finalised.
Woodford has on permanent loan one of the Czech Memorial Scrolls – saved from both the Nazis and the Communists before being brought to safety in England. We have a duty of care towards the scroll and the lost community of Blatna from where it originated. So having raised the funds to restore one of our scrolls, we are now hoping to raise funds to restore a second scroll.
Finally, I want to make an appeal for your time.
Woodford relies on a small cohort of volunteers, who organise and run everything we do. Whether it is as a member of Council, or committees like Rites & Practices (who we must thank for the smooth running of our services including the High Holy Day services) and New Generations (who manage, what is clearly the most successful progressive Cheder in Redbridge). Volunteers also run our friendship club, manage the Woodford Burial Scheme, and Keep in Touch with our more elderly, frail, or ill members.
I am sure you all appreciate the work done on your behalf by these volunteers – but we can always use more volunteers. It need not be onerous – in fact the more volunteers we have the less there is for each person to do. With a few more volunteers we can either do some of the things we do but better; or we could do so much more.
There are, however, two areas where I would ask that you consider volunteering for.
Firstly, on 20 November it is the annual Mitzvah Day – there are flyers on chairs. In past years members of Woodford have entertained the Friendship Club and cleared overgrown land ready for tree planting. This year we would like your time – and some of your shopping – to support two projects; Mitzvah Day Shopping and Honouring our Armed Forces.
Mitzvah Day Shopping involved collecting non-perishable food for charities – simply buy one additional item of non-perishable food (a tin of soup, maybe some tuna fish, etc.) and bring that to Marlborough Road. Or if you have a bit more time to spare, perhaps you can spare an hour to help collect the donated items on Mitzvah Day.
Honouring our Armed Forces involves decorating cards to send those serving in the UK and/or Israeli armed forces. Our Cheder children will be leading on this project, but I sure that they would welcome other volunteers joining in.
Please contact Merle Muswell, Hanan Charles, or the office if you can help to support Mitzvah – full details are on the flyer.
Secondly – as you are no doubt aware, next year the world comes not only to London but right to our doorstep. Woodford is the nearest Liberal Synagogue to the main Olympic venues; we need to be ready to welcome Jewish visitors coming to London for the Olympics. We should also be doing more to celebrate this once in a lifetime event. Last year we had a great success with our 50@50 events, celebrating the 50th anniversary of our community. Next year, as a community we should be celebrating our Olympic games – but we need volunteers to help us plan and run events, can you spare an hour or so every to help?
Thank you for listening, I hope that in response to this appeal you will give generously of your time and of your money.
I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year and well over the fast.