Launching a joint initiative by six Herts and Bedfordshire communities, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said it was a role model for others.
The Encounters study day at Yavneh College, Borehamwood, was held by the Five of Herts + 1 alliance, comprising the Potters Bar, Shenley, St Albans, Watford, Welwyn Garden City and Luton congregations.
Urging more small communities to collaborate, Rabbi Mirvis said he was inspired by the initiative, which chimed with his aim of prioritising Jewish education and tikun olam. "I was determined to be here with you today and I am going to be your champion."
The programme featured presentations on a range of topics, from Rabbi Meir Salasnik on George III's sons and the Jews to US Women executive member Joanne Greenaway on options for the female Jew in the 21st century. Other topics included shechita, Israel advocacy, climate change and the US burial scheme, plus contributions on halachah and the Talmud. The ministers of the six communities all featured.
Welwyn chair Reynold Rosenberg, who presided over the organising committee, said the alliance's main benefit was being able to discuss problems common to small communities. "Encounters has been our first attempt at a big joint event and has been widely acknowledged as a success."