'It raises spirits': St John's Wood Synagogue's meal delivery scheme

Rabbi Yoni and the team at St John's Wood pack meals ready to be delivered.

Rabbi Yoni and the team at St John's Wood pack meals ready to be delivered. - Credit: St John's Wood Synagogue

St John’s Wood Synagogue has been feeding healthy meals to isolated and vulnerable members of the community during the latest lockdown.

In partnership with Jewish charity Gift, with support from the central United Synagogue organisation, a team of volunteers formed the Giving Together project in response to growing food poverty in the north of Westminster.

Young members of the team at St John's Wood Synagogue deliver meals. 

Young members of the team at St John's Wood Synagogue deliver meals. - Credit: St John's Wood Synagogue

Rabbi Yoni Golker, who came up with the scheme, said: “In my work as a rabbi I have been aware of people who are struggling, mostly through isolation, being alone, and also through not being able to see family and friends.” 

“I started rallying the troops to get people involved, around 30 to 40 people in their 20s and 30s who were really enthusiastic young people.

Meals are packed by volunteers in St John's Wood.

Meals are packed by volunteers in St John's Wood. - Credit: St John's Wood Synagogue

"It’s two birds with one stone - on the one hand we’re helping vulnerable and isolated people, and on the other I’m engaging young people in my community to do good, so that was really exciting.”


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The project was made possible by a £20,000 grant from Westminster Council.

Members of the young St John's Wood Giving Together team.

Members of the young St John's Wood Giving Together team. - Credit: St John's Wood Synagogue

Rabbi Yoni said: “We wanted to do something that would make a difference to people’s lives and help them physically and mentally. And having a healthy, well cooked meal with a balanced diet is very important, psychologically to know that people are caring about you, it raises people’s spirits.”

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“One of the major functions of a synagogue is to support people; to find a way to help and engage with our community, and enable people to acts of kindness, not only for our community but for the wider community.”

Rabbi Yoni said feedback has been fantastic so far, with members of the community of all faiths and none delighted at the "delicious and loving" food. 

The meals have been delivered to members of the community of all faiths and none.

The meals have been delivered to members of the community of all faiths and none. - Credit: St John's Wood Synagogue

He cited one man, recently made redundant and with eight dependents, who emailed to say that a couple of extra meals a week had made all the difference.

“All the work has been totally worth it," the Rabbi added. "Because I feel so proud to be able to help the wider community. That’s really the essence, one of the fundamental aspects of what it means to be a Jew. To help society and improve people’s situations.”

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