Darlington Hebrew Congregation (DHC) held their first ever Reform Open Day on Sunday, 29 July 2018, attracting over 70 people. It was an overwhelming success.
The event attracted people of all faiths from across Darlington and the surrounding areas. Many people had never been in a synagogue before and were curious to learn more about Judaism. Local faith leaders from a variety of communities, local councillors, local police, neighbours and friends of the community all gathered together. The Mayor of Darlington, the Worshipful Councillor Veronica Copeland accompanied by her husband, came to join in the celebrations and was presented with a lovely bouquet.
Bess Robertson, Chair of DHC says,
“The Open Day exceeded all our expectations. From the moment we opened our doors at 11am, right through to the finish, the whole Synagogue was buzzing. It was tremendous to be able to share our friendly community with so many people.”
Throughout the day members were on hand ensuring the success of this event. Estelle Solomon and Shirley Goldberg were operating the kitchen, ensuring the food table was constantly filled and teas and coffees were on tap. They were ably supported by Tracy Golden and Valerie Freitag. With chair Bess Robertson and Rosalyn Abrahams (also our photographer on the day) busy shuttling between the three rooms making sure everyone was greeted and spoken with. While myself and Martin Craster looked after the front room ensuring everyone was directed to where they wanted to go. Throughout the day Martin Goldberg and the amazing Ray Honeybourne showed visitors the Torah scroll and answered any questions. Ray held an incredibly captive audience, while the seats in the synagogue were filled to the brim, sharing information on Judaism and the Torah. A lovely speech was made by President, Peter Freitag.
There was food a plenty. Jewish delicacies including chopped herring, fish balls, lockshen pudding, cream cheese and salmon bagels, egg and onion rolls with cakes and nibbles galore. Those that contributed to this amazing feast were Estelle, Shirley, Bess, Rosalyn and Shelley.
The feedback we received was absolutely wonderful. A friend of the community Zoe Herdman wrote on her Facebook Page this message:
“I had a lovely afternoon at the Darlington Reform Synagogue Open House – many thanks to Larry Lewis, Bess Robertson, Martin Goldberg, Ray Honeybourne, Peter Freitag, Rosalyn Abrahams and everyone else for their hospitality. I was very proud to represent my church with my friend Angus, as he has a degree in Hebrew and was able to read the Torah! It was very well-attended by people from different faiths, including the Quaker, Ba’hai, Muslim and various Christian denominations. The Mayor of Darlington, Veronica Copeland, attended, as well as representatives from the police, including our new Hate Crime Officer. We all learned a lot and I was heartened to hear what I have always thought privately, that Darlington has always been a tolerant and welcoming town, compared to many others.”
We also received a lovely email from Councillor Sonia Kane (Northgate Ward):
“Thank you for the invitation to today`s open day which I thoroughly enjoyed. You were all very welcoming and nothing was too much trouble. The food was delicious and it was a delight to meet members of your congregation as well as some of your nearby neighbours.”
We pride ourselves in being steeped in the tradition of Reform Judaism, a friendly and welcoming community as was demonstrated at our DHC Reform Open House.
To all our visitors and members attending on the day we would like to extend a big thank you for making this event the success it was.