Shul thanks its rabbi by housing Syrian refugees


South London Liberal Synagogue gave Rabbi Janet Darley a practical parting gift - a commitment to continue her award-winning work with refugees by converting a space on the shul premises into a flat for a Syrian refugee family.

The work will cost up to £50,000 and SLLS will be organising fundraising events and seeking grants and donations.

Alice Alphandary, the shul's chair, announced the plan at the end of a Shabbat service in Rabbi Darley's honour. "We are all so proud of the work Janet has been doing - alongside Citizens UK and other local faith groups -to both encourage the government to allow more refugees into Britain, and then welcome them when they get here," she said.

"We knew the best present we could give Janet was to mark her retirement with a project that continued this amazing social justice work."

Although the synagogue had considered using the building for general rental, it had been "inspired by Janet's work to inject this project with Jewish values and use it to truly welcome the stranger".

Tributes to Rabbi Darley were also paid by Liberal Judaism leaders and Lambeth Mayor Councillor Saleha Jaffer.

Ms Alphandary and SLLS president Louise Freedman presented her with a tallit made by the community's children.

Rabbi Darley said afterwards: "I received some lovely presents from the congregation. But the best one of all was the promise that the flat they hope to create in part of the building to provide an income stream will be rented to a Syrian refugee family, keeping up our activity with the Lambeth Refugees Welcome campaign."

During her seven years at SLLS, she was part of a Citizens UK team that won an award for promoting the rights of refugees and migrants. She now hopes to become more involved with its work.

Student rabbi Nathan Godleman will take over the SLLS pulpit for the next year as part of his Leo Baeck College fourth year placement.

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