West Country congregations predict a brighter future after merger

Liberal communities in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire amalgamating to form Three Counties congregation


Herefordshire Jewish Community and Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community are to amalgamate.

The merged congregation will be known as the Three Counties Liberal Jewish Community. It will be launched on July 20 with a service led by Liberal Judaism senior rabbi Danny Rich and student minister Lev Taylor.

It is hoped Mr Lev will serve the combined congregation on a regular basis and he told the JC: “I am so excited to start work with this dynamic and exciting community. This merger ensures that all Jews throughout the Three Counties will have a friendly place to call home.”

Established 27 years ago, the Herefordshire community also draws membership from Worcestershire and Monmouthshire. But it has struggled to maintain attendances at services and, with a council of only four long-serving members, decided that merger was the way forward.

“We have been working closely with GLJC for a number of years and are excited about joining a bigger community with more to offer our members,” explained its chair, Mark Walton. “We hope we will now have more to offer people in the wider area and we will be promoting what we do.”

His Gloucestershire counterpart, Natalie Towle, said the amalgamation would produce a congregation with a combined membership of around 150.

Services will be held at different venues in the Three Counties on at least a monthly basis.

Gloucestershire also said goodbye to Rabbi Anna Gerrard at a joint service with HJC attended by more than 70 people.

Rabbi Gerrard — who joined GLJC in 2009, a year after its formation — has decided to take a break from ministerial duties. Shul president David Naydorf thanked her for her contribution to its growth.

The service also featured the acceptance of three new GLJC members into Judaism and a speech from Mohamed Fahili, the founder of the Charles Clore Centre in Akko, which brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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