Member News

Dear SWESRS members,

Shanah Tovah! Wishing you and all those dear to you a healthy, safe and happy New Year!

New Year is a time for reflection and renewal, as individuals and as a community: a time to re-evaluate what is most important to us, and to readjust our road map to help us achieve our vision. As a community, what a long way we have come in the past 12 months. Thanks to your generosity in responding open-heartedly to our fund-raising appeal, we appointed Claire Hartley as our new Community Care Co-ordinator in April. Supported by our wonderful volunteers, eager to make a difference, Claire has transformed our capacity to care better as a community, ensuring that the needs of the most isolated and vulnerable in our community are met.

We very successfully moved our community online with remarkable speed after lock-down in March, with two and three times as many members joining us for services. We have celebrated Bar Mitzvahs, special birthdays and baby blessings on Zoom, and have experienced the uplifting power of supporting each other in joy as well as in pain. We have achieved the incredible blessing of connecting with each other across our range of community activities, including Tea@Two, Chat and Check-in, and a range of exciting events hosted by our Social and Community Group. We should all be very proud of our achievements in the past year, building on our long and proud history as the leading Reform Synagogue in Essex.

However in these difficult times we know that we will face many uncertainties in the year ahead, as individuals and as a community. Council is working hard to secure the future of our synagogue and fully maintains the desire and commitment to fulfill our vision for SWESRS to thrive and grow. In order for us to do so, we have been actively reviewing our finances.  This includes renting part of the site and, as well as Br3akfree, who have proved a wonderful tenant in the Community Centre, we are delighted to be welcoming back New Essex Masorti Synagogue who are making a new home for themselves in the Seminar Room upstairs on Shabbat mornings. We look forward to a time when we can welcome back all our tenants and, having made substantial improvements to the building, continue to look for additional rental opportunities.  We are also actively applying for funding, for example through the National Lottery, although these grants are highly competitive.  And of course by far the major contribution to our finances is through the charitable subscriptions that you pay as a member of our wonderful SWESRS.  As you will have read in our last letter, a key part of our work in securing the future of SWESRS has therefore been on subscriptions, details of which are below.

Thank you for continuing to support SWESRS. Council looks forward to working with you, our members, to achieve a strong and secure future for us all.


Michael Dalton - Chair


A key part of our financial review has been a review of our current subscriptions policy and we have been working to produce a subscriptions policy that is clear, equitable and easy to understand, both for you, our current members, and for potential new members (see SWESRS Subscription policy Aug 2020).

In reviewing subscriptions it became evident that over time our current subscription bands have become multiple and complex.  We have therefore set clear single subscription rates going forward:

Our 2020 rates remain unchanged and are:
Annual              Monthly                In addition HMRC contributes through Gift Aid

Family                  £733.68            £61.14                          £183.42    £15.29

Single                  £453.72            £37.81                          £113.43        £9.45

Student                £52.44             £4.37

Ex-Settlement members will continue to pay rates as per the merger agreement.

If due to the current circumstances you are unable to make your payments and need short term relief, then you can apply for SWESRS assistance to help you over this period.

If you remain unable to pay the full amount, you can continue with SWESRS assistance, which will allow for a shortfall of payment to your agreed amount. This assistance will be reviewed every 6 months. 

Some members pay a higher voluntary donation to the synagogue and if you do so we ask you to continue at your increased subscription level as this income is vital to our synagogue. If you are able to start paying a higher voluntary donation, we ask you to please consider doing so.

We believe that it is important that our members understand how the subscription is made up and how important your charitable donation is to us.  By far the bulk of your subscription goes towards financing our staffing and activities, including pastoral work, care and life cycle events, as well as maintenance of the Oaks Lane site itself: everything necessary to make SWESRS what it is.

We are a proud member of the Reform Judaism family and our affiliation to RJ means that we have access to training, to their care initiative and support and guidance. This membership forms part of your subscription donation as does our membership of JJBS (Joint Jewish Burial Society).

Most importantly, as a charity we are able to claim gift aid on your subscription, which is a charitable donation. This means that we can claim 25p back for every £1 donated by tax payers and makes a substantial difference to our finances (see above).  If you are a tax payer it is really important that you complete and return a gift aid form: there is no cost to you and an extra 25% income for SWESRS – a win all round! You can read more about gift aid and download a form by clicking here, or leave a message on our dedicated phone line 020 8075 0009.

Finally, we are changing the way we currently administer subscriptions. This includes an aim to get all members, or as many as possible, onto direct debit payment so that we are assured of a regular income stream.  This also saves staff time and means you don’t have to worry about whether or not you have paid your bill as this will happen automatically, but of course only with your authority.  Watch out for a direct debit form that will be coming to you which we ask you to complete and return as soon as you can. Do let us know if you would like to discuss this: contact or leave a message on our dedicated phone line – 020 8075 0009 - and we will get back to you.