The Masorti Annual Dinner 2018
By James Burns
The Masorti Annual Dinner, takes place on Thursday 11 January at Allianz Park. It’s the one occasion in the year that all our communities, big or small, from near or far, come together under one roof, for the same common cause.
The dinner is pivotal in many ways, not least the social aspect that allows us all to speak to one another, to share experiences, to ask questions, build relationships and hopefully further those during the year. For those who are coming I implore you to talk to at least one new person at the reception; if nothing else you’ll find that you have Masorti Judaism in common!
Beyond the social aspect, the reason for the dinner is fundraising. Last year was our biggest dinner yet, in terms of attendance and money raised, and I want to thank all those who were there and gave so generously. Every penny is critical to the work we do as a movement and the dinner itself is vital to our continued growth. Last year’s dinner was so popular that we had to unfortunately turn some people away, which is why, after many years at New North London Synagogue (NNLS), we have looked to a bigger venue at Allianz Park. I would like to publicly thank NNLS for all their help and support over previous years, and for understanding our need to look for a bigger venue. In doing so, we tried to find something within the community, but that doesn’t exist, so by using Allianz Park we are supporting a local company and a local team -- Allianz Park being the home of the Saracens Rubgy Club. It also hosts one of the world’s largest collections of Olympic torches, so as you enter, look around at the vast sporting history that surrounds you.
Last year we were delighted to host Lord Dubs as our speaker. He spoke about the work he’d done with refugees -- work in that we as a movement played a pivotal role. Our small movement raised the lion’s share of the money by the Jewish community, a fact we should be very proud of. We were also proud that the Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev, could join and address us too.
This year we are thrilled that Keir Starmer QC MP, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, will be our keynote speaker. Before Starmer entered politics, he had an illustrious legal career tackling human rights issues. He has worked to eradicate the death penalty in several countries and has also campaigned for the admission of Syrian
refugees to the UK. Starmer is a supporter of the Jewish community in the UK, and earlier this year he spoke out about his party’s failure to expel ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone for his antisemitic comments, saying, “There can be no place for this in our party and we need to send a very clear message.”
In 2016, he resigned from Labour’s front bench as a protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but despite being a staunch Remainer, he subsequently rejoined the Shadow Cabinet as Brexit spokesperson, because he felt that Brexit was inevitable and wanted to influence how it was carried out.
The theme for our dinner this year is “Standing together in an uncertain world”, and Starmer’s work on behalf of vulnerable groups, combined with his political position at the forefront of Brexit, should lead to a fascinating and engaging talk. Additionally, we are giving particular focus this year to Marom in Budapest, an organisation that has been the target of the Far Right in Hungary.
I have been privileged as a trustee of the movement to be chair of the Annual Dinner committee for the last two years. As such I have got to work with and know many lay-leaders and professional staff within the movement, all without whom the dinner could not happen. I want to take the opportunity to single out Michelle Janes who has recently left Masorti Judaism after five years to join Lead. Her hard work and dedication has transformed the Annual Dinner into what it has grown to become today, and we are immensely thankful as a movement for all that she’s done for us.
The dinner is nothing though without all those who attend, give generously and make the dinner one of the highlights of the Masorti Judaism calendar. As you are aware, there will be an appeal at the dinner and I implore all of you to please dig deep and give as much as you’re able. Without the money raised at the Annual Dinner we could not do the work our community needs.
If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation to our annual appeal. You can send a cheque or charity voucher to Masorti Judaism, Alexander House, 3 Shakespeare Road, London N3 1XE or you can call the office to make a donation on 020 8349 6658.
I want to thank those who are attending, and I look forward to seeing and welcoming many of you at our new venue. If you would like to attend and have not yet booked please click here.
We genuinely hope you enjoy the evening and we would welcome any feedback for next year too.
James Burns is a member of Kol Nefesh Masorti Synagogue, a trustee of Masorti Judaism, sits on the executive of European Academy of Jewish Liturgy (EAJL), and is a Star Wars aficionado.