As a community we feel it’s important to build relationships outside KLS with both Jews and non-Jews, at home and abroad.
KLS is proud to be twinned with the Ner Tamid community of Simferopol in the Ukraine, a young and enthusiastic progressive congregation in the south of the Crimean Peninsula. In the early 20th century there were over 1000 synagogues and Jewish prayer houses in the Ukraine but these were closed under the Soviet regime. Ner Tamid was turned into offices and store-rooms in 1930 but following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the new Ukrainian government took steps to return synagogue buildings to the Jewish community. The Ner Tamid synagogue buildings, although in a very poor state of repair, were handed back over to the progressive Jews of Simferopol to house their community.
Kingston Liberal Synagogue has been contributing significantly to this young congregation. We have provided funds for various repairs and other smaller projects. A KLS Ukraine trip led by Rabbi Danny Rich included a visit to Simferopol where the KLS group were warmly welcomed. We look forward to a continued long association with Ner Tamid.
KLS participates constructively in the Kingston Interfaith Forum. This active group aims to improve communications and understanding between faith communities in our area. The KIF meets regularly and is currently chaired by our Rabbi Emeritus Danny Rich.
Kingston Race Equality Council (KREC)
KLS is a corporate member of KREC, and is represented on its Executive Committee. KREC works in partnership with individuals and organisations for a fair and just society, which values diversity and gives everyone an equal chance to work, learn and live, free from discrimination, prejudice and racism.
Social action (Tikkun olam)
KLS is committed to all kinds of social action initiatives. Just one example is our religion school’s support for Street Child Africa, a local charity based in Thames Ditton. This important charity works to help street children in Africa get off the streets and into training, education and work.
We are a Fair Trade synagogue, accredited by the Fair Trade Foundation – in order to promote trade justice, we work to raise awareness of fair trade issues in a number or ways. On a practical level, we choose to stock fair trade products as a priority in our kitchen and for our facilities. We also have a stall to sell fair trade products at KLS communal events.
We regularly welcome visits from local primary and secondary schools who want to learn more about Judaism or an aspect of Judaism.
We can welcome about 60 pupils at a time, plus teachers and parent helpers. We run a flexible programme, dependant on age, which includes a talk, some small workshops and art activities. There are also opportunities to look around the synagogue and learn about the various aspects such as the Torah scroll or the ark.
These visits can make quite an impact. One 8 year-old said: ‘when I saw the candles it looked as if they were reaching to God’.
Our rabbi, and occasionally members, also makes visits to local schools to speak about Judaism. If you would like to enquire about organising a visit please contact the office.
Holocaust Memorial Day
We have regularly co-hosted special memorial workshops for local schools. These are designed to maintain awareness of the Holocaust and its lessons for the modern world, in particular for local young people. The workshops are put together with Liberal Judaism and have been run jointly with other synagogues. Students (year 9 and above) have the chance to listen to holocaust survivors and to spend time thinking outside of the school environment about the Holocaust and the moral choices they may encounter in their own lives.