As we approach the new Jewish Year 5784, I want to thank you for all your support, encouragement, ideas, and excitement, over not just the last year but over the last eight years.
5783 was a huge year for the city of Brighton. Brighton and Hove Albion qualified for Europe for the first time in the club’s history. The Brighton Jewish community tasted salt beef bagels, Shakshuka, and a kosher full English for the first time ever. A beautiful new Shul and a beautiful new centre.
In football and Jewishly, the city of Brighton is embarking on an incredible journey. The opportunities open to the city and particularly this community are vast, and the support we have from local leaders in Brighton and the Jewish world at large is both inspiring and humbling. 5784 is therefore special as we start a new season and a new Jewish year that should see, in the words of Chief Rabbi Mirvis, the realization of many dreams.
5784 is likely to see significant change for Brighton’s Synagogues, both the Orthodox Jewish community and the Reform Shul. Rabbi Rader (Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation BHHC) said in his address, when the centre officially opened, that the Shul is open to everyone. That is such an important message, particularly at this time of change. We applaud and echo his message. There are three seismic shifts for BHHC which combine to create this change.
First, Holland Road’s (Hove Hebrew Congregation HHC) decision to close its Shul building and combine with Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation is important. Closing a Shul, particularly one as beautiful and with as much history, as Holland Road is sad. At the same time, a combination has been talked about throughout my lifetime given attrition in numbers. Stanley and Michelle Cohen and the board of HHC deserve real credit for the time and dedication they have given for more than a decade. This combination presents further opportunity to the community – more capable people, more of a Kehila, and broader representation.
We hope that HHC’s members have an opportunity to determine how Holland Road’s assets, built up over generations, are put to good use going forward. HHC’s mission is the advancement of Orthodox Jewish religious practice and education. Consistent with this, we hope HHC’s congregation will look to combine assets and invest in these areas. There could be an opportunity to build a Jewish school in the future, close to the centre (providing numerous benefits), which could be a further game changer for the community here (as it was in Bushey and Borehamwood).
Second, there are many new, young singles, couples and families who have recently settled in the city to become part of the Brighton & Hove Jewish Orthodox community. We hope many will join as members of the Shul as soon as possible, to be supported, to have a voice and to enrich the revitalisation of the congregation.
Third, the passage of time. I would personally like to thank David Seidel as he steps down from his role as Chair, a position he has held for many years. Personal circumstances have seen him less involved in the last few years, but there is no question that in years gone by, his calm and positive demeanour were critical to the success of the partnership between BNJC and BHHC. Charity trustees are recommended to serve for no more than nine years, and David’s willingness to extend his tenure, given the special circumstances of BHHC being offsite, dealing with Covid, and helping with the BNJC partnership, deserves particular appreciation, as does his desire now to encourage new people with fresh ideas and oversight to come on to the BHHC board.
Brighton & Hove Reform Shul (BHRS), also has a momentous year ahead with the new development in Palmeira. We wish Sharon Rose and the BHRS board every success as development is certainly not easy.
Rosh Hashanah coincides with the start of the academic year and the fix of the extraction problems we have experienced in Novellino Brighton’s kitchen. Gradually opening the restaurant fully, opening the Kosher shop and the nursery, and welcoming St. Christopher’s to our site for the first time during the month of September allows us to start to realize a number of our goals to be of service to the local Jewish community, the city at large and the national and international Jewish communities.
I would also like to take this opportunity for a few thank-yous. The support of Tony and the Bloom Foundation, both financially and in terms of wise counsel, generously given, has been a constant and is fundamental to getting us this far.
The Chief Rabbi’s visit was the highlight of last year – a superb way to open the site officially but the spectacle is dwarfed by the substance of his advice and indeed the support of so many pillar Jewish charities and Shul communities that want to spend time in Brighton enjoying the facilities we offer.
We are blessed with a superb team at BNJC, Novellino Brighton, Shoresh Nursery and Pro Fitness Academy. We have had many pieces of good fortune, but by far the largest is to have such talented and dedicated people through all of our operations.
5784 saw us lose, amongst my close circle (and there are many more important members of the community who sadly passed) Derek Carlton, Laurel Woolfe, and Mef Sharpe who were much loved. We are saddened they will not see the centre deliver that sense of community, support, and optimism that epitomized their characters. We are excited to have so many amazing young people, couples, and families now living on site and adding to the vibrancy of Brighton and Hove’s Jewish Community – they keep alive the spirit which characterized the lives of Derek, Laurel, and Mef.
Finally, I would like to thank Rachel and my family for all their support and forbearance.
We wish you Shana Tova Umetukah,
Marc Sugarman (CEO of BNJC)