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Shul provides bed and board for homeless

Muswell Hill Synagogue is the first to give shelter to the homeless

    Muswell Hill Synagogue opened its doors to those sleeping rough in bitter winter conditions.

    Shul members volunteered overnight once a week to provide beds and food for the homeless as part of a winter shelter project with local churches, run in partnership with Haringey charity All People All Places.

    Rabbi David Mason was proud of the synagogue’s involvement in the venture.

    “It has been a wonderful experience watching the vision of setting up a homeless shelter in our community turn into reality,” he said.

    “Our volunteers gave up time, sometimes through the night, and have also been enriched by their conversations with those who have benefited from our shelter. We hope other communities will learn from us and do their bit to help some of the growing numbers of homeless in our country.”

    Programme co-ordinator Anna Lawton added: “The people that came to stay with us were on a programme that helps to get them housed and into work in six weeks.

    “Over that time they didn’t have anywhere to stay so each night of the week they stayed in a different place.

    “Some people were nervous about opening up our doors but it has been wonderful.

    “On homeless man who stayed with us was originally from Gaza.

    “For him it was his first time being in a Jewish space and he was really nervous.

    “But the experience had a real impact on him.

    “He discussed Israel and Palestine with the rabbi and even after he was housed he came back to us to say thank you.

    “Not only did we get to help him. We got to hopefully change his impressions and understanding of the community.”

    Meeting those in need had made volunteers understand how easy it was to fall on hard times.

    “When you talk to them and hear their stories, you see how you are only a redundancy, or divorce, away from becoming homeless.

    “Some of the people had jobs but still found themselves unable to pay rent.”

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