BBC's Tim Franks at Reform dinner

October 7, 2010

The Reform Movement's annual dinner bucked the economic downturn twice over by attracting a record number of guests who raised a high of £270,000.

The 255 guests at the Royal Institute of British Architects in central London were treated to a dialogue between the newly-appointed British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, and the BBC's Tim Franks.

The discussion between the two Reform synagogue members covered topics ranging from the current situation in Israel and the potential threat from Iran to Mr Gould's rediscovery of his Jewish identity through the Movement. Mr Gould also talked about his pride in going to Israel as a Jew to serve his country.

Mr Franks has just returned from three years in Jerusalem as BBC News Middle East correspondent. He is now a BBC sports correspondent.

Speeches from Movement head, Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield and executive director, Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, as well as the Movement's 2010 film, focussed on the mission of the Reform Movement to "Renew, Revitalise, Rethink and Represent Judaism".

In his speech, Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield said: "Everyone now knows the values for which Reform Judaism stands: treating all Jews equally; empathetic engagement with people and their needs; and providing honest responses to the many challenges of modernity."

He emphasised the success of the dinner in attracting 12 per cent more guests than last year. "At a time of economic crisis, when most charities both inside and outside the Jewish world are feeling the cold, we were only worried about it being too hot in here because so many of you, our proud and enthusiastic supporters, wanted to be here."

In her address, Rabbi Boyd Gelfand celebrated recent achievements of the Movement, highlighting RSY-Netzer's summer camps and Israel Tour, and the Reform-sponsored Jeneration's campus work.

The money raised will be used for supporting the Movement's synagogues, for RSY-Netzer youth programmes, to fund the Jeneration initiative and for raising the profile of Reform Judaism in the UK.

    Last updated: 10:35am, October 15 2010