“I hope sincerely that the Kol Nefesh community never for a moment takes for granted how extraordinary a group it is. I feel most fortunate that, in all of human history, in this lifetime I have the opportunity to feel part of it.”
What is the mission of KNM?
Kol Nefesh Masorti Synagogue is committed to Masorti Judaism, to a love of Israel, to creating a welcoming community, and to supporting our members through their personal and family life-cycle events. KNM is fully inclusive and non-judgmental. Each member brings something unique and special to our community.
Can I just come along to your services or events?
Of course, we’d be very happy to see you! Except on rare occasions, and pandemics, services are at the Jewish Care building (Leonard Sainer Centre, Jack Block House) in Rectory Lane, Edgware each Saturday at 9.30am. Other events are there or at members’ homes. Because we have to have security at our services, we’d prefer if you email to let us know you're coming, or for the address if we won't be in our usual premises (email@example.com).
How is KNM organised?
KNM is a small community organised around the principles of transparency, empowerment, participation, openness, and a willingness to experiment and try new ideas. We have an open community meeting every 3-4 months where any topics can be raised for discussion and decision. In between these meetings, committees (pelachim) take responsibility for various aspects of the community (finance, services, security, etc). We have a Convenor who is responsible for coordinating community meetings and activities.
Where are the members from?
In terms of geography, most members live in the Edgware/Stanmore/Mill Hill area, but many members live further afield, from Camden to Radlett and Kenton to Barnet. Some members and friends of KNM live even further away.
In terms of background, people have come to Masorti from Reform and Orthodox backgrounds and have found a welcoming blend of traditional services with open-mindedness and tolerance. Many members also come from conversion, either through marriage or via their own paths to Judaism.
What types of services does KNM have?
We hold a weekly Shabbat morning service and services on all festivals. We also hold occasional evening services, often in members’ homes, together with a communal meal. We follow a traditional service, using Masorti siddurim as well as the standard prayer book (Singer's), and we read the Torah according to the annual cycle. In general, you will notice very little difference between our services and those held in any other traditional synagogue. The only exception is that services at KNM are fully egalitarian. This means that men and women equally can lead services, read from the Torah, recite kaddish, etc., and we have mixed seating. Many women wear a tallit and kippah, but this is not compulsory.
Rabbi Joel Levy is with us on one or two shabbatot a month. On other weeks, lay members of the community will give a d'var Torah. Lay members also lead most of our services and do all the leyening (Torah reading), with the support of Chazan Jacky Chernett, whose resonant alto voice and vast knowledge of nusach (traditional melodies) make our services beautiful and poignant.
While we cherish the traditional services, we also believe in innovation. For instance, periodically we hold musical kabbalat Shabbat services, open-air Shabbat morning services, and meditative shacharit services. New ideas are always welcomed.
Are there opportunities to get involved?
Yes! Whether it is with our children’s programmes, helping with security, tikkun olam projects, leading services, or contributing to our shul magazine, we offer many opportunities to get involved, depending on your skills and interests. We also aim to help members and friends further their own interests and learning, developing their love of Judaism and knowledge of our tradition. For instance, if you'd like to learn to leyen (read Torah) or lead services, we can set you up with a volunteer teacher or organize a small group. We also hold occasional First-Timers' Shabbatot, where we try to encourage everyone to learn and do something new in the service.
How do I join KNM?
If you are considering joining, speak to one of our members in shul, or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll then arrange to meet you and discuss the benefits of joining KNM. We can also resolve any issues around status, financial aspects, etc. We have reduced rates for younger people, and can be flexible when it comes to membership fees. The cost of being a member should not stand in the way of joining our community.
What about Jewish education for my children?
Kol Nefesh runs a bar/bat mitzvah group which meets monthly for with Rabbi Joel when he is here. For those looking for more in-depth weekly classes, our bar/bat mitzvah children are also able to join the programme at Edgware Masorti Synagogue.
Every second Shabbat of the month we hold a 'Me Dor Le Dor' service ('From Generation to Generation'). This is an explanatory Torah service where we involve children of all ages in running the service.
We also run children's activities and services at festivals. And of course the Masorti youth movement, Noam, regularly run activities for our children.
Our children's services and programmes aim to accommodate the needs of members. If you join us with good ideas we'll happily run with them!
Click here for more about children at Kol Nefesh.
How will KNM relate to my non-Jewish family members or friends?
We are glad to welcome non-Jewish family, friends and guests to all our services, study activities and events. We are conscious that many Jewish families have close non-Jewish relatives including partners, in-laws and other relations. It is our aim for our communities to be open, warm and sensitive to everyone who attends.
We appreciate that many non-Jewish people have married into the Jewish world. For some, this is a matter of great importance and pride; they are keen to support the Jewish identity of their family and the wellbeing of the community, without necessarily wanting to take the personal step of converting to Judaism.
More specific information can be found here.
Can I transfer my existing burial scheme membership?
Yes. You can simply stop paying your present contributions and enrol in our scheme. Depending upon your age, you may have to pay a small premium. However, this can be done at any time, and if your personal circumstances require it, you may be eligible for a Masorti subsidy towards this. Please note that there is much fuss made about burial scheme transfer. It really is a very simple process, and in any event the cost of burial is much lower than many people imagine.
Can KNM help me to convert to Judaism?
Yes, Rabbi Joel would be pleased to discuss this with you. All conversions are carried out in full accordance with Jewish law. This means that potential converts have to be sincere in their wish to embrace Judaism and have to complete a programme of education. The conversion is completed by immersion in the Mikvah (ritual pool), by appearance before a Beth Din (rabbinical court), and in the case of a male, by circumcision. Masorti Judaism recognises all conversions which have been carried out in accordance with Jewish law.
Can I make a one-off donation to KNM?
At Kol Nefesh, our aim is to be inclusive and available to everyone who wants to be part of our community, regardless of ability to pay. In addition, unlike most shuls, we never charge fees to attend our High Holy Day services. We do occasionally charge for special events and activities, but we aim to keep those to a minimum. If you are not a member and you've enjoyed any of our services, learning sessions, family events or social activities, we'd be grateful if you'd show your appreciation through a donation, here.
How can I get in touch?
For any other questions, please email:
our convenor, Philippa Gamse, at email@example.com,
our administrator, Elaine White, at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Rabbi Joel Levy, at email@example.com.
We will be happy to speak with you!