High Holy Days Newsletter, September 2018

Shana Tova שנה טובה and Gmar Tov‎ גמר טוב

Since we came together at last year’s High Holy Days, a dedicated group of members has worked relentlessly to ensure the continued smooth running of the Shul, and to maintain and improve the synagogue and GRS community. Here are some of the year’s highlights, through image and text.

(GRS members will receive a newsletter with additional information)

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A new Executive team was formed in May this year. Many thanks to our outgoing Chair Babeth Naddell for all of her hard work (much of which she continues). We are sad to say farewell to Rabbi Kate Briggs and to our administrator Tracey Jacobs, but thank them both for their dedicated support and wish them well in their future careers and lives.

Our priorities to date

As well as the ongoing Shul business, we have looked at future financing, reviewing the care of the Shul building, security, burials processes, rabbinic support, pastoral care and communication with the elderly and sick. We have also redoubled our efforts to identify and encourage new members to join us, particularly families.

The Reform Movement HQ in London and their Northern Communities team based in Manchester have been very helpful, having provided us with both individual support and two really helpful weekend workshops in which many of our members participated. The object of these activities has been to develop a framework leading to increasing the size of our GRS community, its place in the wider Glasgow Jewish community, and to meet our members’ longer term needs and expectations.

For the year coming

We aim to keep you up to date on the progress of priority maintenance being undertaken on the interior and exterior of the Shul building. Thank you in advance for your support of this year’s High Holy Day appeal and we hope that you will be pleased with the ongoing upgrade of our facilities. Thanks to Ron Vallance for spearheading the building work, and to our caretakers Reg and John for their excellent support.

In addition to the building, big issues with which we plan to engage members this year are

  • What do our members want from a Shul and what does the Shul need from members?
  • How best to use our income;
  • Security.


Whilst we have had a quiet few months on ‘events’ front, we wish to thank Scott Chase for the website, Jean Burns and Cecily Smith and the Lunch Club team, Wendy Taylor and the Kiddush team, Eileen Carroll for the communal Seder, and the events team for the Burns Supper.

The Religious Affairs (RA) team

Service organisers: The backbone of the Synagogue is our RA team. Having spent weekends at training events and sharing experiences with a number of small Reform communities, it is clear that we are extremely fortunate. We have very capable service takers, wardens and Torah readers. Thanks to Eileen Carroll, Natalie Miller, Howard and Fiona Brodie, Julian Feuchtwang, Sam Elliott, Lorraine Foster and Carl Benjamin. Thanks also to Scott Chase for providing us with a sermon most weeks. Julian chairs the RA committee and Eileen is Senior Warden.

Rabbinic support: We were unsuccessful in our search for a Rabbi this year, but we will revisit our needs regularly. In the meantime, we continue to have the support of a dedicated RA team and Reform Movement Rabbis who regularly provide their services to us. Thanks this year to Rabbis Laura Janner-Klauser, Pete Tobias, Barbara Borts, Hillel Avidan, and Daniel Katz, and to student Rabbis Elliot Karstadt and Nathan Godleman.

Services: GRS continues to provide weekly Saturday morning services, monthly Friday night services, and a very popular monthly Tots Shabbat. We also continue to provide regular study sessions, conversion and Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes and Cheder. We have had two Bar Mitzvahs and a Bat Mitzvah this year, and three new members successfully completed conversion classes. This year’s High Holy Days have been planned and organised by the RA committee; many thanks go to Julian and Eileen and the RA team.

Inviting new members and supporting families and children: As well as the Tots Shabbat, the RA committee has organised High Holy Day children’s services—themed “The World’s Birthday Party”. We have also appointed a new Community Development worker (funded by the Reform Movement and GRS); we expect her to come into post just after Yom Kippur and begin to plan a whole range of activities for children, families and younger members. Thanks to Nikki Byrne and her team for supporting the current work with families.

The Prayer House and burials

Upgrade and rededication of our Prayer House: We were delighted that our Movement’s Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klauser visited GRS, and took the time to meet the congregation and rededicate our upgraded Prayer House. The project was completed with donations from members and from Shul funds. We would like to offer our grateful thanks to Babeth Naddell and the team who ensured that this project was completed to such a high standard.

A small working party has been developing an informative guide to Reform Jewish burials, and we will share this when it is ready. They have also been future planning to ensure that we have enough space at Cardonald Cemetery, as well as reviewing burial costs and investigating how burials for mixed religion marriages might be able to be offered in future. Thanks to Richard Townsend and his team for this ongoing work.

We now have a small team of Northern Rabbis available to support GRS members’ burials and stone settings. Our Religious Affairs team will support Shiva. We are very grateful to Steven and Hilary Anson and to the Religious Affairs team for continuing to support GRS members at such delicate times, and to Karen Kaye for providing pastoral support to members.

Would you like to have your say?

We do hope that you will support the Shul’s forthcoming calendar, get involved—even just a little and also tell us what our future community should look like: what do you need and want?

Please feel free to arrange to discuss any ideas or issues with our Co-chairs Linda Wolfson and Richard Townsend, or the RA committee. Contact the Shul to arrange a meeting: email [email protected] or call 0141 639 4083.

Shana Tova Umetuka ! שנה טובה ומתוקה‎
Have a very happy and sweet new year!