British chief rabbi pays tribute to United Synagogue youth

Tribe, Young United Synagogue, was launched in February 2003, and has since grown to 10,000 members.

uk rabbi sacks 88 (photo credit: )
uk rabbi sacks 88
(photo credit: )
British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has paid tribute to Tribe, the youth wing of the United Synagogue, the communal organization for the modern Orthodox community in the UK, for its pioneering work in ensuring that the next generation of youth play an active and fulfilling role in the community and in supporting Israel. Speaking at the Tribe gala dinner at the prestigious Guildhall in London's financial district last week, Sacks made a presentation to 17-year-old Esther Marshall, who last month became Tribe's 10,000th member, making it by far the largest Jewish organization for young people in the UK. Tribe, Young United Synagogue, was launched in February 2003 under the leadership of Rabbi Andrew Shaw. Its membership scheme launched the following October set a target to have 5,000 members by 2008. In October 2006, Tribe signed up its 10,000th member. The chief rabbi outlined the development of the United Synagogue over the last decade and commended the amazing achievements made by Tribe. "We realized that if we didn't give our young people a positive Jewish experience, they wouldn't continue the Jewish story. In the last few years, the number of Jewish children in Jewish day schools has increased by over 400% and we now send a higher percentage of our young people to Israel than any other Jewish community. I take incredible pride that our young people love Israel and will be great supporters of Israel in years to come." Sacks also commended the success of one of the group's Holocaust projects: "One of the really great projects is the '60 Days for 60 Years' booklet, whereby we ask young people to spend five minutes a day for 60 days in memory of one of the victims of the Holocaust. That project has captured the imagination of the Jewish world and is being launched in Australia, Canada, America and South Africa. There are some areas, especially relating to young people, where we are leading the Jewish world. "Our children are crying out for a Judaism that is unafraid to meet the challenges of the day - that will make us proud and I believe that this is what the United Synagogue community has been doing over the last few years." Shaw, executive director of Tribe, talked about the organization's work. He said: "In the past, our communities have had to face the challenge of connecting with their young people by themselves. Some communities were able to, but most were not. In the last few years Tribe has succeeded in constructing a dynamic platform from which all our communities can benefit, giving us the ability to communicate with thousands of young Jews and their families from all over the UK. "It is Tribe's mission from within the heart of the United Synagogue to make our young people feel positive and excited about their Judaism, in a way which will secure their Jewish future. We are committed to achieving this, be it through working with our primary and secondary schools, with our members on their gap year in Israel, or while they are on campus and especially through working in our communities, week in and week out." Sasha Stock, a 15-year-old Tribe member, spoke about her increasingly active role in the organization. "I'm not where I am to today because of one trip or one lecture or one person - I am where I am today because over the last five years my community, along with Tribe, have invested time and energy in me and many more like me to connect me to Judaism in ways I never thought possible. Tribe's uniqueness is that it interacts with us all through our childhood and teenage lives - and I am hugely grateful for that." Guests also welcomed Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser, who spoke of her appreciation for the support she had received from the United Synagogue's communities since her husband was kidnapped in July. She asked that members send e-mails to the UN secretary-general, the president of the European Union and president of the Red Cross to ask them to secure at least a sign of life from the captured soldiers. The money raised from the gala dinner will be used to support Tribe and its activities.