Capturing Herts and minds for environmental ventures
Clive Anderson with Rabbi Aaron Goldstein and young volunteers
In his capacity as president of the Woodland Trust, broadcaster Clive Anderson spurred on more than 70 young people, plus family groups who were bussed into St Albans from Hertfordshire and neighbouring communities to plant some of the first trees for England's largest new native woodland.
The Mitzvah Day party was supporting a wider volunteer initiative at Heartwood Forest, an 850-acre site being transformed by the trust. Borehamwood and Elstree, Bushey, Radlett and Bushey Reform, Northwood and Pinner Liberal and St Albans Masorti were among the shuls represented and there was also a BBYO contingent.
Simon Cohen, St Albans Masorti's project leader for the tree-planting scheme, was delighted with the response of the young people. "Nobody cared how cold it was, or how dirty they got. It was about planting new trees in the ground and giving back to nature."
Volunteers from Radlett's Reform and United congregations also joined members of other faith groups and Hertsmere Tory MP James Clappison to clear the way for a communal woodland and picnic area.
The 100-strong team dug and pruned through a vast area of bramble and undergrowth at the site on the outskirts of Radlett. They cleared a skip-load of metal before returning for a well-earned tea at the Reform shul.
Organiser Elizabeth Crossick said the collobaration had been "a great testament to the people of Radlett, young and old alike, who gave of their time in the spirit of true communal friendship".
A similar project in St Albans involved Masorti congregants, Christians and Hindus in a council-requested green space improvement challenge. The council provided saplings, tools and supervision for the volunteers, who planted a long row of hedging as a boundary for an untidy section of Verulamium Park.
Pupils from ACE (Amazing Cheder in Edgware), the year course for bar/batmitzvah students taught by Edgware minister Rabbi David Lister, spent the day in the London School of Jewish Studies garden.
Under the watchful eye of Shenley Synagogue minister and keen environmentalist Rabbi Natan Levy, they picked vegetables and helped prepare the garden for next year's harvest. Rabbi Levy also taught them how to make a wormery.
More than 200 volunteers supported Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue activities, including a number of joint ventures.
Shul chair Tony Arnold said: "We are delighted to be working with our community partners and remarkably proud that so many of our members put aside their time to participate."