ANN ANGEL / Adult Education
I first became part of the Menorah community when, age 13, I was invited with my friends to found a youth group. It was great fun. I even sat on the Board as the youth representative. An eye-opener!
Coming full circle I am now pleased to hold portfolios for Adult Education and Interfaith issues. Please be in touch if you have an interest in attending sessions, supporting activities or introducing new ideas. Or simply want to enjoy a chat over a nice cup of tea!
I returned to Menorah in 1994 with Paul, my husband, and Ilan and Yuval, our children, who attended the Menorah nursery and enjoyed youth activities. I supported youth leaders and youth activities at Menorah and helped to launch the Kehilla weekend and the Schools Outreach programme. I am currently coordinator of the Access course and adult Hebrew classes, and the Menorah representative for Altrincham Interfaith Group.
Professionally I work in Jewish education. I love to use creative means to explore Judaism, especially Jewish storytelling. I was the Northern Communities Consultant for the Leo Baeck College Centre for Jewish Education, trained youth leaders in Jerusalem, taught B’nei Mitzvah in Haifa and Jewish studies in Manchester. I am now running my own business, offering specialist workshops on Judaism to schools. I also like wild swimming and then eating homemade soup!
DAVID BALSAMO / Subscriptions Treasurer
I grew up within the Liberal tradition in London, attending cheder at the North London Progressive Synagogue in Stamford Hill. I have been in the North West for thirty plus years, joining Menorah relatively recently and have become involved in activities where I can help or contribute in some way. This is an easy thing to do because I have found Menorah to be such a vibrant, interesting and welcoming community – a place where it is possible to feel at home very quickly! Currently, I am involved in co-ordinating ARK (Adults Requiring Knowledge), with Judy Bavin, which is interesting, rewarding and, also, a fantastic way to forge and develop community connections.
In my professional life, I am Professor and Dean of Social Science at the University of Chester. I am a governor at a further education college in St Helen’s and have a keen interest in matters of governance. However, before entering academia, I did a variety of jobs from painting and decorating to working in operating theatres as a technician. I have worked in South East Asia and the US as part of my university role, spending some time in the ‘deep south’, where I had the privilege to engage with former Freedom Riders and current civil rights activists. I am hoping that some aspects of my professional and life experience will be transferable as roles on the Board evolve and develop.
I live in Chester with my wife and son and have an older son living in Altrincham; Chester is fine and has good coffee shops, but you cannot get a bagel for love or money! Therefore, when conditions allow, I am a regular commuter to South Manchester and have got to know the area fairly well in recent years. I like to cycle, spend time with my dogs and cook – I currently trying to perfect the art of latke making with reasonable success.
I’ve been a member at Menorah for over thirty years. I was brought up in London in a United and then a Masorti synagogue, but at University I was attracted to the Progressive Jewish Society. When I moved to the North West, I valued the inclusivity at Menorah. I have been married to Mark Barley for over 30 years and we led Menorah Walkers for many years. Our son, David, grew up at Menorah and taught for four years at Cheder. I’ve enjoyed learning, leading services occasionally and reading from the Torah. I’ve found the Outreach work and also the Altrincham Interfaith Group rewarding. I’ve been running Menorah’s Twitter account for several years. Having just ‘retired’ from leading the trade association, the British Ceramic Confederation, I’m keen to support Menorah more.
EMILY CARP / Hon Secretary
I have been a part of the Menorah community for over 15 years, beginning as a bat mitzvah student and then joining the wonderful choir. I have been employed by the community as a youth worker, and have run the B’nei mitzvah programme in previous years.
Having spent some time living abroad in both Israel and Canada I have decided that for now I’m settling back in Cheshire, and want to make sure that Menorah is a welcoming community to all involved.
Originally from Leeds, I moved to Manchester in 1997 and joined Menorah in 2004. I’m a Chartered Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University. My interests include Jewish education, music, meditation, storytelling, comedy, film and comparative religion.
HELEN CONWAY / Communications
I joined Menorah as a member in 2018 having been active in the community for two years before that having come through the access class. Menorah has become a true home for me and I have enjoyed getting involved in a range of activities as diverse and delightfully fun as organising Talmud study sessions, teaching the children to build mini succot from biscuits, Matchmakers and icing sugar, offering face painting at the Hannukah fair, speaking at ARK, designing art work for the Covid year Rosh Hashanah delivery bags, writing for Shofar, helping with social media and publicity and, of course, buttering a considerable number of bagels. I have a particular love of the learning and study inherent in Judaism.
Professionally I was originally a solicitor then barrister, finally serving for ten years in the Judiciary as a District Judge in the Civil and Family Courts and Court of Protection. I took an early retirement in 2020 to build my current portfolio career as a coach, trainer and author. I am also an internationally exhibited artist making graffiti inspired textile art and photo collage.
I live in St. Helens, have a mixed faith marriage with my Christian husband Dennis, who is a keen rugby union supporter and knowledgeable classical music lover. Together we love to travel, as often as possible on long trips across continents or decamping to a Parisian flat for a month or so and pretending we live there for real. When I am at home I relax by reading, baking and playing golf badly.
I grew up in New York in an Ultra-Orthodox Chasidic family, I live in North Manchester. When I came to visit Menorah and felt very comfortable with what Menorah and Reform Judaism stands for. On joining Menorah and I didn’t want to be a silent member, who just joins in what Menorah has to offer (and Menorah has a lot to offer), I wanted to contribute and this is the reason that I joined to be on the Board.
My aim in being on the Board is to contribute to MY community, a community that I feel part of.
HENRY FOX / Social & Cultural
I joined Menorah in 2017 and was elected to the Board in 2019. I am responsible for organising social events, and look forward to putting on a variety of events throughout the year appealing hopefully to all members of the community.
I grew up in a modern Orthodox community in South Manchester and came to Menorah as my wife Sophie was a member. I play tennis on a regular basis and enjoy travelling socialising and car shows.
Please feel free to put in any suggestions to me in relation to social events for the synagogue going forward. I look forward to seeing you at one of the events soon.
CLEM HERMAN / Inclusion
I’ve been a Menorah member for about 15 years and live in Chorlton with my wife Deirdre. We have two sons, one lives in London and the other in New York. Over the years we have been regular attenders at services and social events, but I felt it was time to make a more formal contribution to the shul and community and was very pleased to be invited to join the Board in 2019.
Growing up in London, as the daughter of a Reform rabbi, my Jewish identity has always been very firmly rooted in the Reform tradition and this has shaped my lifelong commitment to social justice and inclusion. Over 20 years ago I set up the LGBT Jewish group in Manchester, as an informal network for people from all sectors of the community and we still continue to celebrate festivals and simchas together.
In my professional life I am Professor of Gender and Technology at the Open University. I’ve worked both as a researcher and educator on equality and diversity issues, including developing policies and strategies for organisations, and I hope to bring this expertise to the Menorah Board to ensure that we continue to grow as a welcoming and inclusive community.
SIMON JACOBS / IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR
I am the son of founder members of Menorah, Leonard and Audrey Jacobs and am following in my Father’s footsteps as Chair, 55 years on! Unusually, I can claim to be a fourth generation Reform Jew, my great-grandfather Isaac Asher Isaacs was the (paid) secretary of the Manchester Congregation of British Jews nearly 140 years ago!
I was brought up at Manchester Reform Synagogue and can claim an early leadership role as chairman of Jacksons Row Youth Club. At Menorah, I remember services at the Friends Meeting House, the ‘fire station’ (part of the now-demolished Sharston Hall), and the original building on the current site.
I left Manchester to go to university in Loughborough and returned 40 years later! I worked in human resources as an interim manager, sometimes working away from home on a temporary basis.
I have been a Board member of Maidenhead Synagogue and the Jewish Joint Burial Society and more recently had the HR portfolio on the Menorah Board before becoming Chair in 2020.
I am married to Lorna and our daughter, Zoë, is a ‘professional Jew’, working as the Community Manager at Finchley Progressive Synagogue in north London.
MIRIAM KLETZ / Estates and Health & Safety
My family and I have been Members for 20 yrs. I have had various active roles during that time including head of cheder.
I grew up in Maidenhead and West London Reform Synagogues before moving north in 1980 to continue my career in domestic services management.
I come from a family of “doers” so have always been actively involved in synagogue life. My husband joined me at Sha’arei Shalom when we married and as the children grew up we joined Menorah, as the community offered more vibrant and balanced opportunities for our young children.
My “day” job in domestic services has given me broad experience in managing estates and risk assessment and whilst I may not be qualified in these roles I hope I am able to put my experience to good use. I currently own a small cleaning business but am on the route to retirement so I can enjoy caravanning, walking and cycling with my husband Robert.
ERIC ROTH / Hon Treasurer
I hope to bring some businesslike methods to Menorah’s finances after a long management career in leading IT industry companies. I always enjoy working with our office staff to keep us on track and problem-free through the financial year. Every year I also run our interfaith Holocaust Study Day, introducing hundreds of Christians to the subject. Members of Menorah for decades, Pamela and I are lucky enough to have the families of our two daughters within easy visiting range.
REUBEN SAFFER / Vice Chair
RICHARD SPECTERMAN / Youth
I have been a member of Menorah since late 2018 since moving from North London with my two children. During my time at Mosaic Reform (formerly Middlesex New Synagogue) I served on the Ritual and Community groups and briefly on Council before embarking on a career change and retraining as a teacher. My main interest is to motivate members in the 20-40 age range to connect with their Jewish roots, if not religiously then at least socially.
HILARY THOMAS/ Care
My family and I joined Menorah in 1975. I became involved as a Board member in 1984 at the behest of Lawrence Shields, who persuaded me to become the Honorary Secretary. Over the next 30 or so years I took on other tasks including Subscription Treasurer and Board Chairman (twice !!) Brenda Freedland and I voluntarily managed the shul Nursery for many years. It was during Michael Hilton’s tenure as our Rabbi, that the Care group was formed and I have been involved in this aspect of Menorah since that time. For me, Care in the Community is a vital part of synagogue life. I hope to be able to continue doing this to the best of my ability. I also hope to encourage members to involve themselves in the multitude of activities that Menorah has to offer. It can enrich your life.