27 July 2016
South London Liberal Synagogue (SLLS) gave departing rabbi, Rabbi Janet Darley, the perfect farewell present – a promise to continue her award-winning work with refugees.
The community has vowed to convert a space in the synagogue into a two bedroom flat to house a refugee family.
Plans are still being finalised, but early indications suggest a budget of up to £50,000 will be required. SLLS will be undertaking a number of fundraising initiatives during the year ahead to fund the project, as well as looking for donations and grants.
SLLS chair Alice Alphandary, who announced the plan at the end of a special Shabbat service in Janet’s honour, said: “We are all so proud of the work Janet has been doing – alongside Citizens UK and other local faith groups – to both encourage the Government to allow more refugees into Britain, and then welcome them when they get here.
“We knew the best present we could give Janet was to mark her retirement with a project that continued this amazing social justice work.”
Janet responded: “My eight years at SLLS have been as rewarding as any rabbi could hope. It was both moving and exciting to have so many from the congregation, as well as from the wider community and from Liberal Judaism, at my ‘valedictory’ service.
“I received some lovely presents from the congregation, but the best one of all was the promise that the flat they hope to create in part of the building will be rented to a Syrian refugee family, keeping up our activity with the Lambeth Refugees Welcome campaign.”
Those paying tribute to Janet at the service included the Mayor of Lambeth Councillor Saleha Jaffer, chief executive of Citizens UK Neil Jameson and Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein and chair Simon Benscher. There were also guests from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, City Hall, Lambeth Council and the region’s Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities.
Alice and SLLS president Louise Freedman presented Janet with gifts (pictured above) including a special tallit – masterminded by cheder head teacher Jackie Ashton and made by the community’s children – a framed paper cut, a Rainbow Seder plate and a donation to her refugee appeal.
A Kiddush, arranged under the team leadership of Gill Walker, followed the service.
Janet has served South London Liberal Synagogue for seven years, during which time she was part of a Citizens UK team that won the Champions of the Year prize at the Women on the Move Awards for promoting the rights of refugees and migrants.
Most recently, Citizens UK won a major legal victory for children in the refugee camps in Calais, who have relatives in the UK, which will enable these children to come and join their families and have their applications for asylum examined here.
Student Rabbi Nathan Godleman will take over the South London pulpit for the next year, as part of his Leo Baeck College fourth-year placement.
To find out more about the refugee project – or to donate money or time to making it happen – please contact the synagogue via www.southlondon.org
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