Hull’s new rabbi is being credited with rejuvenating the city’s Hebrew Congregation.
Since Rabbi Naftoli Lifschitz began work at the Orthodox synagogue at Rosh Hashanah, there has been a surge in the numbers taking part in services and communal activities.
One of the most successful events organised by Rabbi Lifschitz and his wife Shayna was a Friday-night dinner which attracted 70 people — one of the community’s largest turnouts for a dinner in a decade.
“He has made an impressive start,” said shul president Jonathan Levine. “Rabbi Lifschitz has done a good job very quickly. We are all thrilled.”
The part-time role involves the Gateshead-born minister, his wife and their five children spending Shabbat and part of the week in Yorkshire, before returning home to Tyneside.
Rabbi Lifschitz has also held events for students, visited older members of the community in their homes and in the Menorah House care home and participated in a Remembrance Day service at the city’s cenotaph.
“I want to give the older people some quality time and let them know the community is still there for them,” he said. Mrs Lifschitz has organised monthly sessions for women to discuss religious topics and learn challah-baking skills.
The 34-year-old graduate of Jerusalem’s Mir Yeshivah sees Hull as “a community which is ready to unite, to build and connect. My role is trying to strengthen the community and get them working together. We have all enjoyed the experience so far.”
Rabbi Lifschitz is also a qualified cognitive behavioural therapist and is studying for a Masters.
The community’s previous, full-time rabbi was made redundant for economic reasons.