Maureen Lipman has said she’s taking to the telephone to tackle loneliness and isolation in the six weeks leading up to Pesach, making sure everyone who wants to go to a seder can go.
The TV personality joined Reform Judaism’s Connecting with Members Telethon to wish all 42 congregations ‘chag sameach’ (‘happy holidays’), urging members to “phone each other, have a chat, check they have a seder to go to and see where the conversation takes you”.
She said: “Synagogues shouldn’t be about names on membership lists, they need to be about people and relationships. That’s why I am supporting this wonderful initiative from Reform Judaism tackling isolation and loneliness.”
She added: “It seems so basic for those of us who are constantly juggling phone calls, emails and texts but we know there are plenty of people for whom that phone call might be the only contact they have with someone that day, the only time anyone phones unprompted to see how they are and the only time their synagogue has ever reached out to remind them they need never feel alone.”
Created in partnership by rabbis, lay leaders and the staff of Reform Judaism and their synagogues, the initiative is supported by Jewish Care and The Fed in Manchester, with welfare officers warning that “loneliness and isolation can strike at any age”.
Lynette Sunderland from Alyth Synagogue said: “You can be single, married, young or old, whatever circumstance, there may be times when we feel lonely and isolated.
“Having a welcoming, caring and concerned community should enable us to reach out and extend a listening ear, enjoy each other’s company and bring about moments of joy and comfort – anything that enhances the quality of our lives and makes us feel a part of a whole”.
Rabbi Miriam Berger of Finchley Reform Synagogue added: “It is just too easy to let people slip off anyone’s radar. A simple change of personal circumstances can move one from the centre of the community into its periphery.”