In response to the real difficulties being faced during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish community has responded with great tenacity, creativity and resilience. One of the core commandments of Judaism is to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ – and we are seeing evidence of this teaching being actualised throughout the country.
In addition to expressing our gratitude to key workers every Thursday evening, we want to show our appreciation to those who have responded to the call to help their local communities through volunteering. Each Thursday, we will be highlighting a few individuals who have taken on the pioneering and caring Jewish spirit, so we can say ‘Thank You’ for their work on behalf of the entire UK Jewish Community and from all those who are benefiting from their efforts.
If you would like to recommend someone to be featured in upcoming weeks, please email our Community Engagement Officer, Lauren Keiles, at email@example.com.
Sally, alongside her friends have set up ‘Closet19’, an online marketplace where all profits from the clothing sold is donated to NHS Charities Together, which supports the NHS staff and volunteers. Their website encourages people to de-clutter their wardrobes and upload their unwanted clothing items to sell. This initiative has engaged lots of young people, helped tackle the ‘fast-fashion’ industry and has raised significant funds.
Photographer: Edmund Blok
For many years, Vivien has runs two regular singing groups at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, supported by the wonderful synagogue Care Team. One group is especially for social support, and the other is for people living with memory loss. Whilst these groups are unable to meet in person, Vivien leads a weekly online singing group during lockdown, via Zoom. With the support of the Care Team, Vivien meets a group of people online, many of whom are shielding, and one of whom joins from Spain. Vivien encourages people to request their favourite songs, which everyone sings together, interspersed with chat. Vivien has also been running a weekly drop-in singing group for wellbeing at The Dragon Cafe, a creative space for mental health in the borough of Southwark. Since lockdown she has continued to run this group online. Through singing together in a relaxed and social way, Vivien hopes that people can stay connected and feel uplifted.
As we have all struggled through the pandemic, it has been inspiring to see Karen and the team at HET adapt Holocaust Education to the virtual field to ensure this vital work continues. Karen has gone above and beyond to take specific care of the UK’s Holocaust Survivors, checking in on them, supporting them to use technology to connect with others and continuing to ensure that they have a platform to inspire others.
Valerie selflessly makes herself available to help everyone in the community. She is always involved in endless projects helping not just people in the Jewish community but in the wider local society including supporting local refugees. Etel Shepherd, who has sadly passed away, always encouraged marginalised members of the Jewish community to join in and feel valued. She helped so many women over the years, including the wives of miners during the strike. Peninnah is a core part of Jewish life in Cambridge, she goes above and beyond to help and support all members of the community.
Ashley and Danielle are absolute assets to the community and go far beyond their remit to make sure that anyone who is living on their own has everything that they need. They have also been working closely with Bushey Synagogue to make sure that all members are supported during this difficult time.