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Looking Backward Moving Forward

I am sure that I am not the first, nor will be I be the last, to borrow the above title from the LJ Biennial Conference. It was a very apt tagline for the biennial conference, where in plenary sessions delegates looked back to learn how the history of Judaism was rescued from Jerusalem at the start of the Babylonian exile and how the Torah (as we now know it) was first written down during the period of exile. The conference also continued the process of moving forward (an essential element of progress) in various workshops exploring all aspects of Liberal Judaism.

This was the first time that I have attended a LJ Biennial and, although I was told it would be enjoyable, I did wonder if it would be fully engaging for the best part of three days. I am pleased to report that it was a very enjoyable conference – the hotel was excellent, the company very convivial, and the food was exemplary. I look forward to the next biennial conference and let’s hope that once again WLS will be one of the largest delegations in attendance.

At WLS we recently held our Annual General Meeting – another example of looking back & moving forward! This was my first AGM as chair – and lessons have been learnt to take forward for the AGM next year. In my report to the AGM I said that I had hoped my first year as chair would have been a quiet year. However, major changes were required and with support of the wider WLS community, Council has met the challenge. Having a stable and effective Council helped us to meet those challenges – much of what were able to do was done because of the foundations created my predecessors Dan Janoff and Simon Benscher.

They have both stepped from Council to take well earned sabbaticals; WLS owes them both our gratitude and I am sure you will join me is wishing them for the future. Going onwards, I am pleased to note that we have four new members of Council, elected at the AGM, and I am looking forward to working with each of them as WLS continues to grow and develop.

Things are still changing at WLS, the AGM included a key milestone in our plans for refurbishing Marlborough Road – the decision to seek outline planning permission for the proposed building works. You will be hearing more about these plans in the weeks and months ahead – as we start in earnest with fund ranging activities to finance this exciting development.

This is of course the summer of the Jubilee and the Olympic & Paralympic Games. There will much to celebrate, most of it close by or neighbouring our spiritual home in Woodford. These celebratory events will involve a lot of “Looking Backwards, Moving Forwards”. When WLS celebrated its fiftieth anniversary a few years ago we had good cause to reminisce – to look backwards. The recent challenges, the response to those challenges, and the plans now being put into fruition suggest that we have a good reason to look to the future – to moving forward.

Wishing you all an enjoyable, sunny, healthy summer and I hope to see many of year at the WLS Summer Fayre on Sunday 15 July!

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