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10 years of Kehillat Nashira with Yolande Pieters

So many memories... the very first

service, Kabbalat Shabbat, I led

the service and it was incredibly

daunting and exhilarating at the same time. The room was absolutely packed - many people had to stand as we simply ran out of seats and out of space downstairs at Allum Hall. Miriam

said beforehand that the female voices leading for the first time might be shaky and she was right. The physical adrenaline rush really made me shiver.

I felt such a responsibility, leading men and women in the beautiful tunes of Kabbalat Shabbat and I remember that it felt like I was igniting the group - it was not about me or my voice but about creating a spark of communal tefillah that was incredibly powerful and transformative. Rabbi Sacks z’’l explains that simcha (joy) is something fleeting that can only be created by a community coming together. To me, that is what it is to lead a service - igniting the spark, channelling the simcha, being the conduit for a true connection between human voices and God.

Being an active member of this community has meant so much to me - I have learned to lein in a variety of ‘trops’ and I have learnt so many tefillot and tunes that have truly enriched my life. I now feel such a sense of confidence when I lead - 10 years of hard work really does make a difference. One of the most powerful

experiences for me was to be able to teach both my youngest sons their bar mitzvah portions. As a female, single parent, I felt so invisible and voiceless in a communal setting but at Nashira I could be a role model and teacher to my sons and that has made a huge impact in so many ways. Nashira has always been about creating beautiful, meaningful services and developing people’s Jewish skills and confidence and I have benefitted so much from this. There was always someone willing to teach and to support me on this journey and I am really happy to be in the position to teach others now.

When I think of Nashira my first thought is gratitude - I have learned so much and it is wonderful to be part of such a great community of people who care and who give so much of themselves. My next thought is about the joy of equality. Having brought up four sons in the 21st century I know that modern Jewish men do not feel comfortable with all the ‘privileges’ they get simply by being male. At Nashira, there is a real respect for everyone, regardless of gender or status and it feels good for me, as a woman and also for my sons, who are very comfortable with women taking active roles in worship.

Here is to the next 10 years!


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