So my first ‘Letter from the Chair’… Well, I’m honoured to have been elected the new chair of NLJC at our recent AGM, and trust that I can live up to people’s expectations.
More importantly, I want to thank Annie Henriques on behalf of our community for all that she has accomplished over the past four years and for her remarkable stamina and determination. At the point when Annie became chair, NLJC had not long celebrated its 25th anniversary and under Sarah Boosey’s astute chairing, it was beginning to reassert itself. In a little over six months’ time, we celebrate 30 years as a progressive Jewish community in Norfolk. And we are stronger than ever.
Annie sought to ensure that our core values of tolerance, friendship, inclusiveness and tradition are respected. Liberal Judaism is in her blood. She took a principled stand on interfaith dialogue, notably through our sukkot services, and through action for refugees. Those of us who worked with Annie on council will all attest to that.
Under her careful stewardship, our beloved community continued to grow. We are a dynamic community. Our membership has nearly trebled, and we attract fresh interest every month. Annie enabled the young Rabbi Leah to grow and develop her spiritual and pastoral leadership skills. She has since ensured that Cantor, soon to be Rabbi, Gershon has been made to feel welcome in Norwich. The love of and talent for music that Annie and Gershon share, has brought a fresh sense of animation to our services. Long may that continue.
Annie maintains a ferocious personal schedule but liaised regularly with Liberal Judaism head office and kept up-to-date with the latest news in the community. A lot of this, of course, went on behind the scenes and many of us valued her support through difficult times. And during her time as chair, she still found the time to qualify as a music therapist and establish a successful business.
Annie is a schmoozer, and I mean that in the positive sense of the word. She makes people feel welcome, whether they are established members or new faces in shul. Her talent for remembering names, faces and connections is remarkable, and awe-inspiring for someone like me who can forget the names of his own children! She can be very persuasive too. And like any self-respecting Jewish mother, and I will tread carefully and respectfully here, Annie understands that good food, and plenty of it, is not just central to our Yiddishkeit, but to our general sense of well-being and togetherness.
Just as Annie benefited from Sarah’s support and encyclopaedic understanding of our constitution and our relationship with Liberal Judaism, so I hope I will be able to call upon Annie’s advice and expertise in the years to come. Annie will be a very hard act to follow.