Jewish Women Friends in Sussexis a unique organisation, a forum for women from all Jewish viewpoints – religious, cultural, secular and political. We accept and welcome everyone. It began, in 2002, as an offshoot of the Half Empty Bookcase, which was started by Reform/Liberal Jewish women to address the omission of the part played by… Read more »
Jewish Women Friends in Sussexis a unique organisation, a forum for women from all Jewish viewpoints – religious, cultural, secular and political. We accept and welcome everyone.
It began, in 2002, as an offshoot of the Half Empty Bookcase, which was started by Reform/Liberal Jewish women to address the omission of the part played by women in the story of Jewish life. The Half Empty Bookcase began in December 1998, when ten women met in Brighton to form a local group, where we could enjoy meeting like-minded women, discuss our ideas about religion and literature, and share our life stories.
After this group folded in 2003, we decided to go it alone. We are now a Jewish group with no synagogue affiliation, no political standpoint, and we don’t fundraise.
We have a number of regular groups which meet monthly:
Family History Group – exploring our Jewish roots.
Book Group – usually discussing books with a Jewish theme or by a Jewish author.
New Ideas – exploring aspects of contemporary ethical and philosophical issues.
Needles Shmeedles – knitting and sewing group.
Poetry, play readings, creative writing.
We also offer shared lunches, interesting speakers on all sorts of subjects, visits to gardens, concerts, plays and exhibitions. These are all advertised in our newsletter. The subscription is £5 per annum.
When a Women’s Seder was first suggested in 2003 there was a debate about whether celebrating festivals should also be part of our – generally cultural – activities. To start with it was decided to introduce an alternative Seder. A small group researched and wrote a Women’s Haggadahfocussing on issues of women’s freedom as well as the liberation from Egypt.
Wenow hold a Seder every year, the date carefully chosen not to conflict with the first two days of Pesach. It is open to any woman or girl, whether a member of JWF or not. We have a lively evening with shared reading, songs and a delicious meal. It is one of our most well-loved events.
Over the years numbers have increased (120 members in 2015) and so has the diversity. We now have Jews of all synagogue affiliations, and none, and also a few Christians, Hindus and Muslims, women who enjoy meeting and exploring each others’ backgrounds and having fun. I still enjoy organising such an inclusive and welcoming group although sometimes it feels like herding jelly.