| Sermons Talks and Articles
Etz Chayim – the ‘Tree of Life’ – is the Hebrew name of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue.
Good morning, Chag Sameach and Shana Tova
This year Council has chosen three incredibly worthy charities for us to support and, as in previous years, we are supporting a Jewish and a non-Jewish charity in the UK and one charity from Israel.
Our Jewish charity this year is The Jewish Deaf Association www.jewishdeaf.org.uk which this year is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee Year. I visited the Jewish Deaf Association or JDA at Julius Newman House in Woodside Park, North Finchley; their office is also their Day Centre and the hub of their operations.
One of the main groups supported by JDA comprises those Jewish children born deaf between the world wars and who are now aged between 60 and 90. They are multiply disadvantaged: deaf since birth, some have become Deafblind, some have mobility problems and/or learning difficulties, and they were all raised in a world that made no allowance for their sensory impairment. Most were institutionalized from as early as two years old and were brought up together at the Residential School for Jewish Deaf Children. They have been looked after all their lives until their carers died, resulting in severely compromised opportunities, life skills and quality of life and extreme isolation.
They cannot use the telephone, they were not brought up in a computerized age. Now in old age and increasingly infirm, they find it very difficult to cope with day-to-day living, particularly health, financial or legal issues. Many cannot even go out alone.
The JDA was established in 1951 to give these people, who were then youngsters, the chance to socialise together. Sixty years later, their needs have changed and the JDA is the only organisation able to meet those needs.
The Jewish Deaf Association is the only service that breaks the loneliness and anxiety of a world in which its beneficiaries are otherwise excluded. One of their clients’ greatest needs is for the sense of belonging and security which they don’t get elsewhere. This need is met by a combination of services appropriate to both group and individual needs – their own Day Centre and Support Services.
Supported with warmth and care by the JDA’s dedicated trained staff and volunteers, Day Centre participants enjoy a hot meal and a stimulating, fun-filled day at a place that is home from home. They organise and participate in a range of interesting activities and informative events to sustain lifelong learning and safe, healthy living and go on outings to places that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
Through the celebration of Jewish festivals at the Day Centre, Jewish Deaf and Deafblind people have access to Jewish culture and traditions in their own language, sign language. They conduct their own services and enjoy the fulfilment of being able to participate in the blessings and customs as a community. Elsewhere, they are observers and outsiders; at the JDA they are active participants, they belong.
The Jewish Deaf Association provides those who need it with door-to-door transport in their 16-seater minibus. They guarantee them an environment in which they can actively participate in enjoyable and mentally stimulating social and cultural activities on at least a weekly basis, the means to maintain optimum physical and mental health and a lifeline during times of ill health and bereavement.
Many of their clients have nobody else to turn to. Through consistently professional, culturally-sensitive and needs-led provision of the Jewish Deaf Association, these elderly and isolated Jewish men and women have the friendship, facilities and support they need to lead healthy, independent and fulfilling lives.
The Jewish Deaf Association are desperately in need of funds to support their operations; without the support of the Jewish Community the Jewish Deaf Association will not be able to continue its support of these so desperately disadvantaged elderly Jewish people.
Our Israel charity this year, chosen by our Israel Committed Group, is The Leo Baeck Centre in Haifa for their Salam Shalom Israel Youth Theatre Project www.leobaeck.org.il/english. This theatre and dance project crosses the borders between Arabic, Hebrew and English dance. It is open to all Haifa Arab and Jewish teenagers and is based on a model created by the Swiss choreographer Anna Roethlisberger and artistic director Dalit Bloch.
Through a process of workshops, deeply personal supervised conversations, rehearsals and public performances of an original show, the project explores friendship, love and the dilemmas of being different using the performing arts, and in particular dance. The project teaches participants how to integrate their critical reflection of personal resentments and prejudices, to break down cultural boundaries in an open and safe environment of tolerance, mutual respect and creativity and to build long lasting cultural bridges.
Since friendship, love and being different are topics which touch us all, no matter where we come from, what religion we practice, what language we speak or the colour of our skin, similarities will be emphasised as life realities merge. The project demonstrates that empathy and solidarity are achievable goals among Israel’s Arab and Jewish Youth.
The Leo Baeck Education Centre is committed to encouraging the growth of ideas and options and to instilling Arab and Jewish youth with the confidence to trust their convictions and the courage to pursue their dreams. Carol Brauner writes that she believes that this core group of participants will not only impact the way their families, peers and local communities treat one another, but will themselves become leaders of change in the future. The estimated cost of the project is £15,000 and Carol has said that the Leo Baeck Centre would be honoured to name NPLS as the 2012 project sponsor.
Our third and final charity this year is our UK non-Jewish charity. I would like to read you an extract from the Watford Observer, Friday August 12th.
“Beds and services are to be cut as Watford’s Peace Hospice www.peacehospice.org.uk struggles to cope with falling levels of income. The Peace Hospice will close two of its twelve in-patient beds, trim its family services team and reduce temporary nursing cover. The hospice now receives only 21 per cent of its income from the Government and local Primary Care Trust, the other 79 per cent comes from the voluntary sector. It was founded in 1993 and cares for more than 1,000 people each year across the Watford, Three Rivers and Hertsmere areas. It is now appealing for more donations from the public.”
Stuart Nagler, the Chairman of the trustees said “Our main aim is to continue to deliver the best possible level of care and support to our patients and their families but we are at a stage where, unless we can find some additional income, we will have to cut back on our free services.”
This charity is particularly appropriate this year as we have returned to Watford for our High Holy Day services, literally a stone’s throw away from the Peace Hospice. Last month, I went to the hospice and met Gill Crowson; she showed me round and explained that they had recently received a £500,000 grant from the Government provided it was all spent on the capital cost of creating useable space on the first floor of the building which had been left as a shell since the building was originally built. She proudly showed me the new bedroom and en-suite bathroom for relatives of very ill patients. She told me that it was recently used by the husband and young children of a terminally ill young mother, who was only 34 years old. The bed that this young mother occupied, is one of the two beds that the hospice can no longer afford to run because of lack of funds to pay for the nursing and other care.
The Peace Hospice deals with terminally ill patients, mostly with cancer, but increasingly, also with motor neurone disease. They run a pioneering Hospice at Home which together with Marie Curie in Watford provides 24 hour cover for terminally ill patients at home. They also run a vital Family Services Team covering families and especially children, pre and post bereavement. Gill also showed me the new room on the first floor devoted to children. The Family Services team run group and individual sessions for the children who have lost a parent. She described how after one young boy was helped by the team to understand what had happened, his behaviour had changed from being unresponsive and truanting from school back to being the normal young boy he had been before.
The funds available for the Hospice at Home and the Family Services team have also been reduced as funds available for running the hospice have come under pressure. Our help is desperately needed to help to provide funds to enable the Peace Hospice to re-open the 2 beds they cannot afford to run and to maintain the services of the Hospice at Home and the Family Services Team.
All of the charities which comprise our Yom Kippur Appeal have encountered a fall in their income due to reduced funding and donations in the current difficult financial times. We can make a difference. Each of you can make a difference. Please think about that when you receive the letter about this Appeal next week.
I wish you all a Shana Tova.
To download a donation form click here
© Copyright 2011 NPLS