Chairman’s Letter – February 2015.

Howdy folks, from the sunshine of Las Vegas (visiting my son, Martin) and now Florida (visiting a Kaye cousin). But don’t worry, I’ll be back before this Shabbat, well in time for the induction ceremony for Rabbi Chanan and Nechama this Sunday 15th March. I look forward to seeing a full shul for this very special occasion in the life of the community, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi. I do hope you’ve all booked in!

Every month I seem to report on what a busy time it’s been here at Yeshurun, and of course this month was no different.

The Martin Lewis evening arranged by the Events Committee was thoroughly enjoyed by 160 people who were treated to a punch ‘welcome’ reception; a hugely entertaining evening by a great celebrity speaker that gave freely of his time for our community; and a beautiful feast of delicious home made cakes baked by shul members. The ‘icing on the cake’ was the £3000+ that was raised, ensuring we now have sufficient money to finally replace the badly worn and tatty carpet in the Radiven Hall. This will be done shortly.

The Rabbi arranged a “Purim in the Pub” event for young adults, and I understand, and can see from the pictures that I missed a spectacularly great “Yeshu on the Run” Wild West Purim party. I believe it was well msupported and very successful. People clearly dressed appropriately for the occasion, and I particularly saw the irony in Nechama dressed as a nun! I hope everyone enjoyed Purim and apologise for absence.

We’ve had the Ladies Guild Spring Hat Evening, and the Coffee, Bagel and Chat Events recently too.

Having successfully welcomed Martine into the shul office, who is delightfully popular, and proving a great success, as well as ably supporting Moishe, we are now looking to recruit a Personal Assistant to work with Rabbi Chanan and Nechama. They need more personal administrative support to enable them to do all the things they are “champing at the bit” to organise but haven’t yet had time to do. This has been carefully budgeted for, and we are giving members of the community the first opportunity to apply for the post. Rabbi Chanan and Nechama feel that 10 hours per week (ideally across four days but with flexibility) would initially suffice.

If you feel you have the skills, and would like to apply, please email me in confidence to [email protected]. (See the attached advert). Job specification is being prepared by the Atlases, but we would really like to appoint someone ASAP.

In the next month all the invoices for shul subscriptions will be posted out. You’ll remember from the last AGM that an annual rise in line with inflation was approved, ongoing. This enables us to keep our finances on a more even keel, without having to approve rises each year. As a consequence we can invoice members earlier, thus improving cash flow. This year, subscriptions will rise by just 2%. In addition our Treasurers are planning to offer Direct Debit facilities. We hope that all of you who like to pay monthly will sign up for direct debit, just as you probably do for other household “expenses”. The benefits are several.

Firstly, you will be able to pay over 12 months instead of 10, reducing the monthly payment. Secondly, with direct debits we can activate the inflationary increase much more easily in future (of course you will always be notified in advance). This will save the annual rush for all members to set up standing orders which puts everyone under pressure and creates a lot of work for poor old (young) Moishe when they are not started in good time. Thus it is much cheaper for us to administer since we don’t have to spend time chasing late payers! Direct Debits are the way of the world now, so members shouldn’t feel anxious about signing up.

The Board, on the guidance of the Treasurers, are henceforth combining the Cemetery Maintenance fee with the Shul subscription. This again saves administrative costs, not having to invoice separately. All shul members are liable to pay the cemetery maintenance fee. There seems to be, amongst a small number of members, confusion as to why this is charged separately, and why ALL members pay it, even if not a member of the Yeshurun Burial Society. It’s very simple, the money is ring fenced for maintenance of the Ohel, and the cemetery itself, and just covers the costs. By charging it from the shul it can be “gift aided”, producing additional benefit. As the Ohel and Cemetery are assets of the SHUL itself, they have to be maintained adequately (along with other shul assets). [The Burial Society is there purely to pay the cost of burial, nothing more]. The Treasurers will be sending out further explanatory information with the invoices.

Moving onto more interesting matters, and having talked about what’s gone on in the past month, what lies ahead? Well, we’ve celebrated one ‘P’ and of course there’s another ‘P’ following closely behind…….PESACH.

However, before we get to Pesach, there is the Events Committee Book Evening on Tuesday March 17th when Charlotte Gringras will be in conversation with Dr Liliana Pasterska, about her new book. See flyer for details.

There is a Pre Pesach talk by Rabbi Chanan, on Monday 23rd March, and another Shabbaton with a visiting “Scholar in Residence”, Rabbi Francis Nataf, over Shabbat Hagadol, 27/28th March. We can’t make a dinner on this occasion as the shul kitchens will be Pesachdik by then but it should be an engaging Shabbaton, and Rabbi Atlas is very excited about Rabbi Nataf coming to Yeshurun. See flyers for more details.

Despite the hard work involved in preparing for Pesach, I’m sure most of us really enjoy Seder nights. 

Lesley and I attended the Communal Seder for the first time last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it along with the 80 other attendees. This year the first Seder should be extra special. It’s on a Friday Night, which is great, and also the Atlas Family are here to share it with us. I do hope many of you will consider coming along, even if you’ve never been before. It is usually seated at round tables, meaning that each table can effectively have their own ‘mini Seder’ within the larger event. I do have one big favour to ask though….PLEASE could you book in immediately using the attached flyer (note NOT with the office if possible), and avoid leaving it to the last minute. As you can imagine, for the in house catering team, it causes much difficulty when people decide late. So, note the closing date! I’m sure the ‘Ruach’ will be very special, as only us Yeshurunites know how! All you new members, including those with young families, please come along with your children. Children at Seder make it so much more special. With this in mind we’ve set a Family price to make it more affordable, and also we’ve REDUCED the price from last year foradults, AND we are starting the Seder as early as possible, for children’s benefit (and the grown ups too). See flyer for more details.

Mazal Tov to those members celebrating special birthdays, and Simchot in the next few weeks….there are several!

My next Chairman’s Surgery is Sunday March 29th 10-11am. No appointment necessary.

Don’t forget, the clocks go forward one hour at the end of the month, following which we will be daveningMincha followed by Maariv at 7.30pm, with Rabbi Chanan’s mini Shiur in between.

So, I shall see you all on my return.