So how did I end up as Chairman of the shul?
This is a question I have asked myself on numerous occasions sincethe AGM when I was voted into the post. Is it due to my 50 year plus membership of HRS, the Community and the numerous friends I have made here, our inspirational, approachable and charming Rabbi, or is there more to it? Naturally, it's a combination of all of those things which bond me to this shul but additionally my parents always instilled a love of giving back to the Community. My father Jule (z’’l) was always involved with entertaining the old, putting on shows, his famous quizzes and being a big character in many fund raising activities. Then there is my mother Valerie who continues to be a stalwart with the Ladies Guild preparing all the kiddushim and ensuring that the silver looks pristine for the High Holy Days.
Those who know me say “well you are a Bright and that’s what the Brights do” but it wasn’t always like that for me. Back in September 1970, in the first Cheder class of the term, sitting next to my old friend Robert, all we could think of was getting home and riding our bikes over the waste ground which is now Brent Cross. Then in walked Steven Katz .. it couldn’t get any worse .. the son of the Rabbi was going to be our teacher for the year . No escape.. No pranking about .. But how far from this did it turn out to be. For Steven was the best teacher, a fun teacher who certainly knew his stuff and made it come alive with his innovative teaching methods and references to football. He ran a league in the class and we could move up and down the table if we knew an answer or did a good piece of work ... it was crazy but we looked forward to coming each Sunday. So I guess this was the start of it, as in my late 40’s inspired by Steven once again I started to sit in as a bystander in his “AS” level Jewish studies class, to find out more about Reform Judaism. Again I was hooked by his anecdotes, teaching style and knowledge. This led to a leadership course and eventually joining Council. The past 10 years or so have been, you could say, somewhat turbulent with so many difficult issues to deal with. I can only admire those Chairs before me with whom I sat on Council - Ann Paul, Stewart Abbey and Andrew Owen - who handled their tenure with dedication, professionalism and sensitivity, never forgetting that we are a caring community.
The next period for HRS is one of development and hopefully will be an exciting and rewarding one for all of us. There is the discussion and implementation of where we shall be, building our youth activities and family involvement and creating a vibrant community for the future. Together with your input we shall continue to make HRS special and a shul everyone is proud to
belong to. So here I am as Chairman, a product of my formative years, parental guidance and community spirit. So what happened to Robert who I sat next to at Cheder. Well last month he (Robert Weiner) was elected Chairman of the Movement for Reform Judaism ..... It seems 1970 at HRS proved to be a good year for today’s Reform Judaism. Let us hope that in another 40 years they will say the same