Prime Minister Boris Johnson has honoured Bushey United Synagogue for its remarkable collection to support refugees last month.
Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden presented the prestigious Points of Light Award to Rabbi Elchonon Feldman and a team of volunteers at the shul on Friday.
This comes after thousands of items of clothing were donated through the synagogue to support Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban, and settled in the local area.
The collection was co-ordinated by Bushey United’s social action committee, Bushey Gives Back, and rabbi Feldman’s team has continued to distribute items – as-well-as meet refugees to ensure they feel welcome.
Mr Dowden said: “I am both delighted and honoured to award Rabbi Feldman this Points of Light award today alongside volunteers from ‘Bushey Gives Back’ – the synagogue’s social action committee. Having worked closely with Rabbi Feldman as the local Member of Parliament, I know that his commitment to his community is unparalleled.
“I know that Bushey United Synagogue was swamped with donations from the local community, so much so you could not get into the car park! This is testament to both Rabbi Feldman, volunteers, his shul, and the wider Hertsmere community. I could not think of someone more deserving of this prestigious award.”
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The Points of Light Award is given by the Prime Minister’s office on a daily basis, to “outstanding individual volunteers – people who are making a change in their community.”
Speaking to Jewish News after Friday’s ceremony, he said he logged on to his phone after Succot, “I saw an email from the Prime Minister’s office saying, ‘sorry to contact you out of the blue but we would like to present this Points of Light award’.
“To describe me as being completely floored is an understatement”.
He said he was “so proud of our Shul and the human spirit, because although the volunteers that coordinated the whole thing came from the synagogue – this spread so far and wide. It really spoke to the more general humanitarian kindness which is in the UK.
Calling the award “humbling” because of the other “incredible human beings” who have been presented with it, Feldman said: “What’s really nice about it is that all this was all done because we cared
He added the Bushey Gives Back initiative is important not just for the collection last month “but the ongoing work which has continued, of keeping the relationship with the refugees. He also praised two local charities, Goods For Good and Sebby’s corner who they are “working really closely with”.
Michael Goldstein, President of the United Synagogue, said it “is thrilled that the efforts of Rabbi Feldman and the Bushey United Synagogue team have been recognised by the Prime Minister. The outpouring of generosity from the Jewish community and beyond is heart-warming and we are so proud of the community for receiving this award. The community’s wonderful response to support Afghan refugees is a tangible and practical way to make a difference to many people in need. Kol hakavod for leading the way.”
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