Our apologies to Nina Young who wrote this article for the latest issue of Alonim but it was accidentally omitted!
My first thought, as I started writing this article about planning for the coming Rosh Hashanah Term, was to reference the 1985 popular sci-fi comedy film ‘Back to the Future’ which, surprise, surprise, I never saw because it just didn’t appeal to me, but the title was intriguing. My second was, could the title ‘Back to the Future’ apply now to the situation we are all in, with restrictions lifted and encouragement to try to return our lives onto a much longed-for ‘normal’ track?
The much-loved and regular meetings of the Tuesday Lunch Club, under my watch since January 2017, had almost reached its 100th soup, jacket potato with toppings and salad, tea, cake and fruit plus Speaker session at the end of March 2020, when just after Purim everything, everywhere, locked down and Life turned seemingly inward for everyone. The priority was to keep all our members, the majority of whom are very senior and vulnerable, safe, so direct social contact was devastatingly completely off limits and the telephone was the first major medium for maintaining connections. I was looking at my diary just before starting on this article and was astounded to see an entry to the effect that Lunch Club was suspended, at least until the end of April (2020)!!! Little did we know.
A few weeks later, after Zoomed Shabbat Services had started, it might have been Rabbi Lisa, Claire Hartley our Care Co-ordinator who had just taken up post at SWESRS when the pandemic started, or Debz our Administrator – I cannot claim any credit – who suggested that maybe some form of meeting could be held via Zoom, at fortnightly intervals on a Tuesday afternoon, so that at least a proportion of our Lunch Club members, those who were confident at using the internet, could meet virtually. A 2.00pm start was suggested. Then came the proposal that the wonderful group of volunteers who’d regularly helped with Lunch Club might make and deliver pieces of cake to all the Lunch Club regulars, irrespective of their ability to join the Zoomed session. Cake to be eaten (if it lasted long enough) with a cup of tea people would make for themselves – hence T@2 was born!!
Our first Zoomed session was held on 23rd June 2020 and regular fortnightly sessions have taken place since then, culminating with the last meeting of this summer on 20 July 2021. A wide variety of presentations, ranging from a selection from a collection of weird and wonderful Victorian and Edwardian gadgets to the history of early Jewish immigration to North America plus quizzes and entertainers, has intrigued, informed and entertained our participants. There are always people who cannot ‘attend’ on a given date for one reason or another, but there has generally been a regular take-up of around 20 plus people.
Whilst, sadly, a number of Lunch Club regulars were unable to take part, despite our best efforts to explain and encourage people in zooming, we have been joined by a significant number, who can cope with computers, whose frailty and mobility problems meant that they would not have been able to travel to SWESRS, had that been allowed.
So Zoom has played a crucial part in keeping so many of us connected. We have found that once people have become confident in this virtual setting, the friendly exchanges and conversations amongst the group have become relaxed and warm - almost as if people are together in a sitting room!
With this in mind, our planning for the new future seeks to maintain the inclusivity of our membership as much as we can. The SWESRS Communal Hall, where live Lunch Club has taken place is to be equipped with the technology, including large screens, to allow live speakers to be ‘zoomed out’ to those who cannot get to SWESRS, or ‘zoomed in’ if the speakers live too far away.
PROVIDING IT IS DEEMED SAFE TO DO SO AND THAT ALL PARTTICIPANTS WILL HAVE RECEIVED BOTH ANTI-COVID JABS, we plan to re-start LUNCH CLUB LIVE on
TUESDAY, 5 OCTOBER with Lunch served at 12.15pm in the SWESRS Communal Hall. The Speakers will start from 1.30pm, to allow those using Zoom (as for T@2) to join the session from 1.20pm. The afternoon will end between 2.15 and 2.30pm. For those attending at SWESRS, the cost for the lunch will be £6.00.
PROGRAMME - Note all speakers will be ‘live’ from SWESRS and zoomed out unless otherwise stated:
5 October: Re-Opening, with Jack Matthews speaking about his experiences as a Norwood Boy.
19 October: Zoomed-in Presentation: Eastbourne - the Sunshine Coast, the Glamour of the Grand Hotel and its Jewish Band Leaders. Anne Krisman-Goldstein
2 November: Quiz Afternoon - to challenge and amuse - with Leslie Tobe as Quiz Master.
16 November: The Show Must go On - Bessie Lewin will tantalise with tales of her career as a dancer.
30 November: Chanukah Special. Bring your own Chanukiot (plus candles) so that we can all bask in the beautiful light and warmth of a communal Celebration. Although it will be the second day of Chanukah, we shall have an early lighting of the 3rd candle. Further details tbc.
14 December: We welcome the return of Gary Benjafield to entertain us with songs to stir, sooth and, above all, to thoroughly enjoy.
We really look forward to resuming, to meeting again with previously regular members and to welcoming people who have never been before. Please telephone the Synagogue Office – 020 8599 0936 to book your place.