The High Holy Day period is traditionally a time for remembering our obligation to give tzedakah – money to those who are in need of our support. The High Holy Day Appeal provides members with an ideal opportunity to perform this mitzvah. Each year we are overwhelmed by the generosity of synagogue members and we welcome each and every contribution whatever the amount. Our hope is that every member will take the opportunity to contribute something as their personal act of tzedakah at this time.
FRS, in its High Holy Day Appeal, chooses to support a number of charities for up to 3 years, in order to make a difference on a particular project. Last year, we began a relationship with a new set of charities, and this year will be the second year of that cycle. You may have read, in the recent Tree of Life, a brief summary of what our chosen charities have achieved in the last year, with support from FRS and its members.
The following projects are those which the synagogue will once again be supporting throughout the coming year, as part of our social action programme:
Citizens UK, Safe Passage:
Safe Passage is a project of Citizens UK, which grew out of the urgent need for child refugees to access their right to travel legally to a place of safety. Its mission is to open safe and legal routes to protection through advocacy, community organising and litigation, and to then support refugees’ first steps to rebuilding their lives.
Conflict and persecution have forced 22 million people worldwide to leave their homes, leading to the largest refugee crisis in decades. Thousands have travelled to Europe to seek protection, often facing dangerous and traumatic journeys; over 1,300 people have drowned crossing the Mediterranean in 2017 so far. Those who make it to Europe are exposed to further danger on arrival. They are held in camps and detention centres, often in extremely poor conditions, or become homeless. Nearly half of these refugees are children and more than ever before are unaccompanied, having lost family members along the way or been forced to flee alone. An estimated 10,000 children have gone missing since arriving in Europe.
The scandal is that many of these child refugees have a full and legal right to travel to a place of safety. Collective political failure and instability has led to an inadequate and disjointed response to the crisis, and as a result, refugees are being denied their right to a safe journey to a place of security. Safe Passage is the only organisation working with children in both sending and receiving countries to make sure they can reach a place of safety.
The refugee crisis shows no signs of slowing down, and the need for this work continues to grow. Citizens UK achieves its aims through three main activities:
- Political advocacy to secure policy changes which will open safe and legal routes.
- Strategic litigation on cases which have the potential to set a precedent. Safe Passage also take legal action against the government where necessary to secure transfers.
- High quality casework to identify refugees eligible for transfer and support them throughout the process. Citizens UK have field teams in France, Greece and Italy. Their UK team works with clients after their arrival, making sure they can claim asylum, access entitlements and integrate.
Since Safe Passage was founded in 2015:
- 1,150 children have arrived in the UK through routes they have helped to open;
- 118 Safe Passage clients have come to the UK;
- 56 were supported to successfully claim asylum;
- 30 were supported to access services.
Seventy years ago, Britain opened its doors to 10,000 Jewish children who were also fleeing persecution. It is time to live up to the legacy that came before us. Like then, the options are not perfect – but they can save lives.
Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice is North London's only children’s hospice. It provides clinical, emotional and practical care and support for children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. The central aim of the hospice is to enable these children and young people to live life as fully as possible. They also support families during their child’s life and help them face the future with hope throughout bereavement.
As we did in 5777, FRS will assist Noah’s Ark with their family day events such as sports days, theatre workshops and an annual Summer Ball. These offer accessible activities, enable families to spend quality time together, provide respite for parents and carers, and build a community to reduce isolation. FRS members can also support their local children’s hospice by volunteering in the hospice, presenting on Noah’s Ark services, and taking part in upcoming challenge events.
The Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI) is an Arab-Jewish non-profit organisation dedicated to creating a shared and equal society for Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. They carry out large scale projects in the fields of education, economic development, equal services and civic participation, and use them to model pragmatic solutions, and advocate for their adoption, at the highest level of policy decision making in Israel. These projects connect the otherwise separate Jewish and Arab populations in Israel, fight growing trends of discrimination and create a more equal, inclusive society.
Over the past year, 80 students from El Rashdiya and Ziv elementary schools met to connect, to challenge stereotypes, and to get to know one another. The two cities are barely fifteen minutes apart but no student from either place had ever visited the other city. This is unfortunately the norm in Israel, with over 60% of Jewish Israelis never having visited an Arab town. Despite trepidation from some of their parents, the Jewish children were received warmly at El Rashdiya with music and food and fun activities. Also during the past year, Arab and Jewish children worked together during School Encounter initiatives organised by The Abraham Funds Initiative. Other encounters included a Tu Bishvat tree planting activity combined with workshops in traditional Arab dance.
Thanks to support from our community, this inspirational programme has been made possible and with it the possibility of a new generation of Israelis living in harmony rather than fear.
Keshet UK is a Jewish community organisation with a vision of a world where no one has to choose between their Jewish and LGBT+ identity. By delivering inclusion workshops, providing training and speaking at events, Keshet UK supports Jewish community organisations to become more inclusive of LGBT+ people. Support from FRS in 5777 helped Keshet to facilitate sessions at synagogues for youth leadership programmes on creating inclusive communities. Keshet presented about the experience of LGBT+ people during the Holocaust, for Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration ceremonies at our synagogue and also at Finchley Progressive Synagogue. The organization developed a new LGBT-themed Purim curriculum for JCoSS in New Barnet, which was delivered to 180 year 11 students in partnership with RSY, LJY and Noam youth organisations.
Our partnership with Keshet will continue to assist their wider LGBT+ inclusion work, celebrating diversity in the Reform Movement and reaching out to the wider Jewish community.
Reform Judaism – Communities that Care. With 42 communities across the UK and over 30,000 members, Reform Judaism aims to be a vibrant and welcoming environment for everyone. The Communities that Care initiative has focused on combatting loneliness and isolation since the initiative was launched last year. So far, RJ has succeeded in mapping community needs, introducing new projects like the Telethon and tea parties, raising awareness of loneliness and isolation in our communities, identifying the need for a welfare provision in every community and providing support when needed.
The support of FRS members for this initiative is now enabling Reform Judaism to provide valuable professional assistance to communities on issues ranging from setting up a welfare committee to drafting safeguarding policies and strategic planning to ensure that welfare issues are not just a matter of age. A national conference is now being planned for all synagogues on the issues of loneliness and isolation, with a commitment to support communities in implementing what they have learned and been inspired by.
The ability of Reform Judaism to embark on this extremely important journey is largely due to the generous support of FRS members through the High Holy Day appeal last year and the need for funding for these projects is ongoing.J: Communities that Care Reform Judaism’s Communities that Care Initiative has focus through the High Holy Days Appeal.
The FRS Belarus Project continues to be an interdependent partnership which impacts beneficially on both the FRS Community and the Polotsk Jewish community in northern Belarus in equal measure. Many of our members have close links to Polotsk and some have visited the community or helped to run fundraisers and volunteered their time. Our support for Polotsk enables them to have a community centre where they hold weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services, community events and B’nei Mitzvah. They have an active and growing Sunday school with regular attendance and they celebrate the festivals throughout the year. Thanks to the efforts of the FRS Belarus project in providing them with tools to help their skills develop, the community’s Hebrew ability is improving rapidly. All of these developments are being made possible because of support from FRS members. It truly is a lifeline and is showing that, through our efforts, a Jewish community in Belarus is becoming a reality.
You may pay online via Virgin Money, where your donation will be shared over the six charities, unless you request otherwise.