It is with great pride and tremendous excitement that I am writing to introduce myself as your new Head of Youth at New London Synagogue.
I have long been familiar with New London’s unique place in British - and indeed World - Jewry and over the years have experienced firsthand the warmth and vibrancy of this community.
I have been working and volunteering in Jewish organisations for over 17 years, developing and delivering numerous successful education programmes. I grew up in an observant, Orthodox Jewish home where my parents instilled in me a love for my religion as well as the knowledge to navigate it. I spent a number of summers studying in Israel and upon returning to the UK for university became interested in progressive forms of Judaism. After graduating I spent a year at Yeshivat Hadar - a traditional egalitarian Yeshiva on the upper west side of Manhattan.
I currently serve as Head of Education at Alyth, one of the largest communities in Europe. Other roles I have held include Social Action and Sustainability Coordinator at JW3, Jewish Social Responsibility Manager at UJIA and Head of Jewish Education at Noam, the Masorti Youth Movement’s summer camp in France.
I have a passion for seeing young people grow and flourish and I believe that where Judaism is concerned, people best attain knowledge through experiential learning that animates the Jewish tradition, and inspires meaningful connection. As a community that fosters Jewish identity we have the unique challenge of building both knowledge of but also an emotional and spiritual connection with Judaism amongst our youth. I am committed to the inclusion of children of all abilities and will work to empower our educators and youth leaders with the necessary skills to meet the diverse needs of the community. Furthermore, for synagogue-based education to work, I believe the whole family must be engaged. There is a beautiful midrash in which God, addressing the Israelites at Mount Sinai, tells them that, “Your children are good guarantors. For their sake I give the Torah to you." However, children are not the only guarantors of the Torah and together all of us can ensure that Judaism continues l’dor va’dor (from generation to generation). I understand that this is an exciting time for New London and that the community continues to attract and welcome many new young families. Building on this success, I look forward to working together so that we can continue to build a space that inspires and encourages young people and their families to explore and nurture their Jewish identity.
New London’s vision to remain true to the central tenets of the Jewish faith whilst embracing change where appropriate match my own personal belief. I am convinced that for Judaism to remain powerful and meaningful it must have the solid base of tradition in combination with the confidence to evolve.
Head of Youth will not just be a professional commitment but a personal one as well, and I look forward to becoming a leading member of the community. My wife (Robin), daughter (Aviva) and I look forward sharing in New London’s successes and very much look forward to meeting you in the near future.
David-Yehuda (“DY”) Stern