Two voices: Q: How do we make the High Holy Days more meaningful?

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Two voices: Q: How do we make the High Holy Days more meaningful?

Two Voices
Two Voices

This week’s Two Voices asks.. how we make the High Holy Days more meaningful..

Two Voices

34 Simon Benscher
Simon Benscher

Simon Benscher says… 

I wonder if, during our hours of communal spiritual refreshment, we could give some consideration to the chairs of our congregations.

They will have spent days preparing a heartfelt and passionate appeal, not just for money to be donated to worthy and deserving charities, but also for everyone to give more of themselves.

For the vast majority of our communities, the day to day functions and maintenance falls on the shoulders of a small number of willing helpers. In my experience, all of these volunteers are busy, hardworking people with either full time commitments to their work or their families, or possibly even both. None the less, they still find the capacity in their busy lives to work for their extended family.

Ask any of these unsung heroes why they give themself this extra burden and I’m reasonably sure you won’t get a definitive answer.

Our commitment to our communal Jewish homes is, for many of us, part of our DNA. It can’t be defined or labelled, but for some reason it makes us who we are.

Its gives the individual as much in the way of fulfilment, as they hope it gives to their congregation and its members. So, this year, when you hear the annual appeal from the bimah, maybe – just maybe – make the commitment to play your part in the future of Judaism in the UK.

• Simon Benscher is chair of Liberal Judaism

Alice Alphandary
Alice Alphandary

Alice Alphandary says…

The Torah commands us: “Do not separate yourself from your community.”

Playing a fuller role in synagogue life helps to break down any barriers separating us from a meaningful Jewish experience.

One of my friends speaks about the importance of being an active participant in synagogue life, rather than just a consumer of it and I have to agree. When we help out in the running of our community, we are fulfilling an important mitzvah, which benefits both our community and ourselves.

For example, through chatting to another member of my synagogue, I recently found out that she shares a common interest in sewing – which we wouldn’t have discovered if we had not been engaged in community life. The way we treat others in synagogue is a reflection of how we behave at our best in wider society.

So if we want to lead better, more meaningful lives, we should use synagogue as a good place to start. Speaking to newcomers and people who might consider themselves outsiders really matters.

As you attend services for the High Holy Days, why not challenge yourself to speak to someone new and surprise yourself with what you have in common.

• Alice Alphandary is chair of South London Liberal Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: