Last Sunday, delegates from 18 United Synagogue communities attended The US’ inaugural Small Communities Conference at The Holiday Inn, Elstree.
The event was designed to address the challenges faced by smaller communities, demonstrate how they can overcome them as well as to see what The US can do to support these communities in the future.
Speaking about the conference, United Synagogue Chief Executive, Steven Wilson, said: “This is a great example of how The US and its communities can creatively work together to meet challenges that impact on the Jewish future. This conference exemplifies our approach to maximising the potential of our smaller communities; I look forward to seeing its contribution to solving shared problems and seizing many new opportunities”.
Led by both Phil Diamond and Paul Sarfaty, Chairs of Shenley US and Sutton US respectively, the morning began with an opening address from Chief Rabbi Mirvis, who spoke about the need to invest in order to fulfil the potential of a community. This was followed by two workshops titled ‘Small Community Challenges & Solutions’, where key topics, which were chosen by the attendees, were discussed. Topics covered included promoting attendance at Shabbat services and maintaining weekly minyanim, as well as addressing issues relating to an ageing membership.
The morning programme also involved an overview of Employment Law, together with a presentation of five, 5-minute success stories from small communities, whilst the afternoon programme included a presentation by Community Engagement Manager, Yaacov Finn, on how to build communities through Facebook. After closing remarks, the afternoon programme included a networking lunch.
Jo Grose, Community Liaison Manager, added: “As our smaller communities continue to evolve, the United Synagogue is constantly looking for ways to facilitate the provision for such communities to adapt to the challenges that they face. This conference is just the first step and I am confident that we can continue to add value to our smaller communities, which are a vital part of The US”.