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Aug 07

Mancom Talk: Jewish Identity Committee, by Kathryn Peck

Mancom Talk

Jewish Identity Committee – Dr. Kathryn Peck

I have been asked to write a brief review of the role of the Jewish Identity Committee. This committee is a sub-committee of Mancom and carries the following range of responsibilities:

1. Developing a syllabus and standards for the Religion School, as well as advising on teaching practices

2. Developing a syllabus and standard for the Jews by Choice classes, as well as advising on the related practical and administrative processes

3. Providing service leaders to substitute for the Rabbi in the event of his leave, illness or unavailability for some other good reason

4. Liaison with the choir with regard to the selection and presentation of material for services

5. Constitution and guidance of the ‘shammas team’

6. In conjunction with Mancom, determining the distribution of honours for the High Holy Days , (including Chatan Torah and Kallat Bereishit for Simchat Torah)

7. Fine-tuning the order and structure of services when change, innovation or development seems appropriate

8. Initiating the organization of special events to mark occasions that have a religious focus or concern Jewish identity (for example, tree planting on Tu’ B’Shvat or a family day for Yom Ha’atzmaut)

9. Offering suggestions for the adult education programme, such as the JTalks on Saturday mornings

10. Organizing the Talmud study sessions

11. Initiation and collaborative planning of JForum events, such as the past series on the History of Progressive Judaism and the current series on Israel and Zionism

12. Organization of the annual Franz Auerbach Interfaith Memorial Lecture

13. Oversight of the congregation’s kashrut policy (e.g. setting the requirements observed in our kitchens and guiding the expectations for kiddushim, communal dinners, the communal seder, and so on).

Prof David Bilchitz has chaired this committee for approximately the past 2.5 years. The Rabbi is a key member, who serves ex officio. Other members include Prof Merle Williams, who has been associated with the Jewish Identity Committee for an extended period, as well as Jessica Sherman and Kathryn Peck.

All the issues which are discussed at this committee are referred for open discussion by the Executive of Mancom and by Mancom itself. The ratification of important decisions is requested as a matter of principle; modified proposals may be redirected to the Jewish Identity Committee for further consideration.