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Volunteer of the Week

This is a new weekly spot where we will be highlighting a volunteer and their role in the community. If you would like to get involved please contact Louise Froggett.

Deena Kestenbaum

I feel so fortunate to live in the vicinity of the New North London Synagogue to have been able to find roles that suit a non-shul goer but an enthusiastic shul affiliate!

I have belonged to the synagogue since my return to London almost 20 years ago after having lived in Israel and Italy for many years. The first voluntary position that I took on was that of Meeter and Greeter - every month I get to see friends, acquaintances, colleagues and the general shul going public in my capacity as Official Welcomer. It is a role that allows me to read everything on the notice board, catch up with Dave and Zolly, report on the wellbeing or lack of wellbeing of the bees, and feel that I am participating in something that has value.

My second role within the aegis of the shul is running the kitchen for the Asylum Seekers' Drop In Service. It is a job that I took on at the inception of the service because I like food, I like feeding people and I like being in a kitchen. I have a loyal and hugely efficient team of women (yup, only women) who make the job a pleasure and it is a joyous thing to be able to be generous with tasty, good looking dishes that make our client group happy

And my third, and possibly most anxiety provoking role, is that of community beekeeper. I think that beekeeping is a hobby that can be characterised by 90% stress (are the bees alive, are they healthy, is the queen laying, where is the queen, why can't I find the queen, will the colony swarm, the colony has swarmed, that is bad - why have they swarmed, etc. etc. etc.) and 10% elation (the colonies are doing what the books describe them as supposedly doing, and there is a ton of honey)

The role requires a weekly, 2 hour bee check from March to October, depending on the weather, as well as making bee boxes and frames, sugar syrup and fondant and a great deal of transportation of equipment whilst trying to ensure that 150,000 bees are happy. It is both awe inspiring and frustrating, miraculous and exhausting. And mainly, quite remarkable.

I have had a small input into the new Energy Garden at Finchley Station - yet another really interesting thing that I have gotten to do by dint of my membership of the shul

I would encourage volunteering as a way of feeling engaged and bringing value to your own life and others

Sun, 21 July 2019 18 Tammuz 5779