The theme of the Masorti dinner was shaping Judaism for the next generation. So it was appropriate that the movement’s chief executive, Matt Plen, spoke of a renewed focus on innovation.
“We are keenly aware of the increasing numbers of people who want to be involved in Jewish life but who are not necessarily interested in going to shul every Shabbat morning,” he told the 265 guests at Allianz Park in Barnet.
“We want to create communities and programmes based around Jewish learning, volunteering, food, tzedakah and more, expanding the boundaries of what it means to be involved in Judaism. This is a crucial priority for the future of the entire Jewish community.”
He noted that Masorti membership had increased by 114 per cent since 1990. In the same period, overall synagogue membership in the UK had declined by 20 per cent.
Mr Plen also spoke about fledgling communities in North London (for young adults and families) and Liverpool and highlighted support for small congregations such as Oxford and Leeds.
A short film was shown in which members explained what made Masorti special for them. Simon Rickman said: “We live in Brighton but we’re willing to travel all the way to St Albans because we want the experience of a modern, traditional community that only Masorti can give us.”
Ilana Lever-Chain said: “We were impressed by the social action Rabbi Roni Tabick was leading in Stoke Newington and we’ve now joined the community.”
The keynote speaker was Lord Winston, who, in conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, spoke about his career and the role of people of faith in public life. He also answered audience questions on topics ranging from pressures on the NHS to the House of Lords’ response to Brexit.
Comedian Josh Howie compered the event, which raised more than £110,000.