More shuls aid crunch victims

By Jay Grenby, March 5, 2009

Job losses among the New North London Synagogue membership as a result of the economic downturn has prompted the Finchley-based Masorti shul to establish an employment resource project.

Congregants have been asked to offer counselling and training to those affected and to forward news of job opportunities.

“We’ve had a great response,” reported NNLS executive director Claire Mandel. “Job-seekers in our community are starting to make use of the service, and we know of at least one success already.”

Promoted through the shul’s weekly email and monthly newsletter for members, the project is being co-ordinated by congregant Judy Fearn.

Federation synagogue Edgware Yeshurun is another offering help to congregants caught in the credit crunch. Two members with lengthy experience in debt management are providing confidential advice on request. “They don’t promise to come up with any magic solutions,” said a Yeshurun official. “But they will listen, advise where appropriate and provide links to agencies that can offer further assistance.”

Meanwhile, Stuart Bloom, who runs Bushey Synagogue’s Community Cares programme, is encouraging members to pool expertise to help those in difficulty. Legal and financial guidance and CV writing are among the assistance it wants to offer.

At the suggestion of its board, Bushey is additionally running a networking group.

“Lots of people in Bushey with small businesses are finding it tough,” reported Adrian Cohen, who leads the group with Richard Gilbert, David Baum and Stephen Nelkin.

Fifteen people attended the first meeting, there were 22 at the second and Mr Cohen expects double that number for the next gathering on Tuesday. “The group attracts all sorts,” Mr Cohen added.

“There is a 16-year-old trying to supplement his family’s income after his tax consultant mother was made redundant by breaking into the wedding and barmitzvah circuit with his close magic tricks.

“We also have the owner of a major construction company specialising in building projects in the City and West End.”

As well as allowing members to promote their own businesses, the group facilitates the exchange of ideas — for example, there are three members expert in different areas of computer technology who are helping each other with projects.

    Last updated: 3:41pm, March 5 2009