Masorti expands regionally in Bristol fashion


A Bristol congregation has joined the ranks of Masorti Judaism as part of the movement's expansion plans in the regions.

Following its approval by Masorti's board of trustees, Bristol held its first official Shabbat at the weekend with Rabbi Oliver Joseph officiating.

Rabbi Joseph, 33, who grew up as part of Masorti's youth organisation, Noam, has been tasked with identifying local groups the movement can help grow.

The aim is to add another two congregations over the next year.

The minister said the Bristol group had a "nice turnout" of around 15 people for the first Shabbat. "It was a lovely crowd. We had an afternoon service with a bit of learning. The people who showed up were interested in Masorti life and what it could be like in Bristol. People were excited to have a traditional egalitarian service.

A group in Liverpool has also been established

"There's a lot of potential in Bristol and lots of young Jewish families and individuals in the wider area, including Bath, who aren't showing up for community events. So we perceive there's a gap in the market Masorti Judaism could be filling."

The Bristol congregation comes hot on the heels of a Liverpool Masorti group and the New Whetstone Synagogue in north London being relaunched with a family-friendly Kabbalat Shabbat.

Masorti Judaism chief executive Matt Plen said New Whetstone was attracting a regular minyan and had been "reinvigorated. In the past few months, the synagogue has resumed its status as a viable community and we're very pleased to support that."

Mr Plen added that there were plans to re-energise two chavurah groups in London, with Rabbi Joseph looking to get more under-35s involved in them.

The minister wanted to encourage "dynamic and engaged participation in community life for young adults who are not necessarily committed to, or intrigued by, regular synagogue services but who are passionate about community events".

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