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Meeting shul members

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-06-28

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One of the UK's largest Reform synagogues has implemented a new way for members of its shul to meet its new main rabbi as well as fellow members as part of its plans to engage better with its community.

North Western Reform Synagogue, commonly known as Alyth in north London has started a series of Alyth At Home evenings which allows 30 people from each of the postcodes in the Alyth catchment area to meet at the home of a member as well as meet Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, previously rabbi at Finchley Progressive Synagogue and members of the synagogue's executive and staff.

"In a community of 2,000, connecting names with faces and personal stories makes remembering people a lot easier. It is great to hear from so many different people and begin to build a profile of my new congregation," said Rabbi Goldsmith.

North Western plans to hold at least 20 of these meetings and develop them further as needed.

"This is not only giving our congregants the opportunity to meet our new Principal Rabbi but also helping people to meet each other in the warmth, comfort and hospitality of our members’ homes," said Angela Wilson, chair of the synagogue.

Rabbi Goldsmith believes the project will enable him to understand the synagogue members better and members him better.

“This is an opportunity for people throughout the community to get to know each other, whilst meeting me. For me, it means that I’m able to go out to where the community is. I believe it is very important for a rabbi not to simply stay in the synagogue building and hope that people come to you. This initiative is all about meeting people where they are.”