Friday 25 December 2015

Upcoming Social Events

Tuesday 29th December - Parsha Shiur at 8.15  p.m.

Thursday 31st December - New Year’s Eve Party

Sunday 10th January 2015 - Brunch for ladies to discuss future topics for Rosh Chodesh Club at 10.45 am

Sunday 24th January 2015 - Holocaust Memorial Service at the Town Hall.

Sunday 31st January 2015 - Talk at the Shul by Dr. David Siegler - The role of a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) in the County at 3 pm

Sunday 21st February 2015 - Challa making at the Shul - time to be confirmed

Thursday 12 November 2015

Ageing and the Brain: What's normal and what's not.

On Sunday 29th November 2015 3 pm, Luton United Synagogue will host a talk by Professor Gary Kupshik  on 'Ageing and the Brain: What's normal and what's not.'

Prof Gary Kupshik is Chief Psychologist for the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. He has responsibility for Clinical Psychology and Research Governance in Bedford, Luton and South Essex. He has a special interest in assessment and  rehabilitation of brain injury, the appraisal and management of a clinical risk, prediction of therapeutic change and the use of technology as neurobehavioral prostheses. Current research include:

  • Structure of Psychiatric Diagnoses,
  • Prediction of Clinical Outcome Following Severe Acquired Brain Injury,
  • Use of technology as a compensatory cognitive device to minimise  memory and planning failures related to acquired brain injuries,
  • Use of digital technology to appraise cognitive deterioration  in minority communities.

Monday 2 November 2015

Luton US President reports on Shabbat UK Dinner

Luton United Synagogue hosted its Shabbat UK Friday night dinner on 23 October 2015, writes Laurence Benjamin, President of Luton United Synagogue. The event started with a Friday night service in our synagogue followed by a four course meal, dvar Kodesh and entertainment.

The event was organised largely by our Rebbetzen, Rivkah Schwei, but was ably assisted by members of the Community, who set the Synagogue out for the meals and assisted with serving.

The evening started with candle lighting. Being a small synagogue, it was rather a squeeze for all the men to assemble behind the mechitzah around the bimah for the service, but this all added to the sense of celebration.

The meal was plentiful with fresh salmon starter, soup, chicken and potato kugel followed by a desert. We are very grateful to the Chief Rabbi's office who partially funded the cost of the meal.

Forty two members of the community attended the meal. Claire Agasee gave Dvar Kodesh on the theme of travel and new opportunities - particularly appropriate as one of members with young children were moving to a new home the following week.

The following day there was our usual Shabbat service, which was well-attended. The whole Shabbat was uplifting and gave the community a much welcomed enjoyable gathering.

Thursday 29 October 2015

US Chief Executive‏ Reports on Progress for US Strategic Review, invites comments

The US Strategic Review - Building Vibrant and Engaged Communities at the Forefront of British Jewry – was published in February 2015. Dr Steven Wilson, US Chief Executive‏ has since reported on steering groups which have begun to take some key recommendations forward. Steve is also inviting comments, suggestions or ideas relating to the work of the Strategic Review at

Engaging services: opportunity to consult with the team 
The Strategic Review points out that over 60% of US members said that engaging services were an important factor in choosing to join their synagogue. Yet only 39% of our members say that they are very satisfied that their services are engaging. As the Chief Rabbi, writing recently about our services said: ‘The situation is both profound and urgent but the solution is within our grasp.’ 

Following the session at the HO brunch in the summer the US Living & Learning department is available for a process of consultation with communities, exploring how we might make services more meaningful, accessible and appealing to members. If you are interested in participating, please contact Jo Rose at

Communities of Potential 
A Communities of Potential Board has been formed which has been at work identifying areas of growth, change and decline within existing United Synagogue communities and beyond. The Strategic Review urged The US to adopt a ‘nimble’ approach to the development of its communities.

With this in mind, the Board is tasked with identifying where to invest creatively in new communities - in particular those in areas of Jewish growth - whilst at the same time providing appropriate support so that smaller communities can adapt to their new realities.

I’m also delighted to be able announce that our trustee board has approved a significant redevelopment of the site at Highgate, incorporating more space for community activity as well as upgraded rabbinic accommodation. I would like to thank the local leadership team who have raised necessary funds and worked in partnership with us to reach this point.

Rabbinic Careers and Development 
Great Rabbis and Rebbetzens are vital to our success. We have established a Rabbinic Careers panel which has been tasked with addressing some of the following key issues raised in the review: How do we ensure the US is competitive in the market for recruiting high-quality Rabbis and Rebbetzens? How do we ensure that there is clarity on roles and responsibilities? How do we ensure that all our Rabbis and Rebbetzens have the opportunities to develop professionally? The panel will be making its first set of recommendations in November.

In the meantime, we have assisted communities in making strong recruitments to The US over the last few months. We’re delighted to welcome Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg and his wife, Blima, to Woodford Forest , Rabbi Shmuli Sagal and his wife, Talia (pictured), to Sutton and we are excited to see Rabbi Meir Shindler and his wife, Rina, take up their new posts in Richmond in early 2016.

Engaging the Next Generation 
This year Tribe had the most amazing summer with over 500 young people participating in residential and day programmes in the UK, Europe and Israel. 

The Strategic Review called on the US to prioritise engagement with youth in our communities. Given the importance of this activity, the trustees chose to set up a review of Tribe, entitled ‘The US Future: Engaging the Next Generation’.

Its aim is to evaluate the extent to which Tribe has met its original objectives and to propose clear objectives for future activity. The project is being overseen by a panel of lay leaders and professionals who plan to present a report to Trustees at the start of 2016.

In the meantime, the team at Tribe are running ongoing activities in schools (the recent Tishrei's Got Talent was a hit!) preparing for the Learn 2 Lead programme in Poland in October and are looking ahead to Chanukah on Ice.

Getting our Marriage Process Right 
In partnership with the Office of the Chief Rabbi, we are conducting a review of the marriage process within the United Synagogue. We have been speaking to those involved in all aspects of the marriage process, from authorisation at the OCR through to US membership, as well as to couples who were married recently through the United Synagogue to understand how we could improve their experience.

In particular we have been considering how local communities could benefit from playing a greater role in this area, including in retaining newly married couples as longer-term members.

New Models for Payover 
The ‘payover’ contribution from local shuls to the running of The US is now being looked at by a newly formed working group of shul Financial Representatives. They are investigating possible new models for payover that would allow for greater transparency and longer-term planning.

We are are keen to develop a model that is widely understood to be fair and hope to be able to share our recommendations with communities in the first quarter of 2016. The new model will come into effect in 2017.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Shabbat UK wrap up

The following link contains a message from the chief Rabbi regarding Shabbat.

Please can you also let us have some feedback regarding our Shabbat UK in Luton that we can pass on to the Chief Rabbi’s office.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Luton United Synagogue to host Shabbat UK Friday night dinner on 23 October 2015

Luton United Synagogue will host its Shabbat UK Friday night dinner 23 October. ShabbatUK 2014 started off with The Great Challah Make as over 7000 people in 26 locations gathered together to make Challah. ShabbatUK is nearly upon us and you need to move fast if you want to start and finish it in style. On Thursday 22nd October 2015, you can join thousands of people at The Great Challah Makes in North West London, Manchester and Essex.

Following on from the huge success of last year’s event, ShabbatUK is proud to announce that this year it will be hosting the Great Challah Make in a marquee opposite Brent Cross Shopping Centre. Last year over 3,000 people attended this exciting event and this year we are expanding to make it even bigger and better.

The event will begin at 7pm prompt with doors opening at 6pm. If you are a group of more than 60 people and wish to be together during the evening, please contact us on and we will try to make every effort to accommodate you in an allocated area for group bookings.

All your group will need to purchase their own tickets and then they should inform you how many in their personal group so that you can collate the overall numbers and then email us with your final tally. Please note that this will be on a first come first serve basis so we would advise you to do this as early as possible.

After Shabbat, join thousands of people at our ShabbatUK Havdalah Party at Brent Cross including food, fun, activities and live music, which includes Yishai Lapidot from Israel, as well as a Children’s Scratch choir performing. It’s a perfect way to complete ShabbatUK. Doors open at 7:45PM and the event will end at approximately 10PM.

Monday 12 October 2015

Luton United Synagogue at The University of Bedfordshire's Community and Faith Centres

The Tree House in Luton

The University of Bedfordshire's Community and Faith Centres have very kindly invited Luton United Synagogue to have a stall at the Faith and Culture Festival on Wednesday 14 Oct from 11am to 3pm at the main Luton campus centre.

The Centres welcome people of all faiths and beliefs and offer personal and spiritual support to students from over 100 countries. The Tree House in Luton and SeedBeds in Bedford offer a relaxing and safe environment, a place to chat and meet friends over a hot or cold drink, space for reflection and prayer.

Revd Andrew Goodman from Luton campus explains: "I'm an Anglican priest and I coordinate the Treehouse team. As a diverse team we really like the buzz of meeting people with different cultures, faiths and beliefs and working on projects together to have fun, learn from each other and achieve things that are going to help make a better world."

The occasion will provide an opportunity to promote Shabbat UK, which will be on 23-24 October.  It is a single Saturday in which the entire Jewish community organises communal events so that Jews try to keep the Sabbath even (actually, more especially) if they are not particularly observant. Luton Synagogue will be holding a Friday night meal at the Synagogue on 23 October.

The Tree House keeps an up-to-date local map guide for those looking for a Church, masjid, synagogue, mandir, gurdwara or other place of worship. If you do not find what you are looking for on the map, the Tree House team can advise you. The Tree House has two multi-faith Prayer Rooms and hosts Jummah nearby.

The Tree House hosts a series of special events throughout the year including film nights, discussions on a range of topics, and popular get-togethers
where you can sample food from different parts of the world.