Members of East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue hold inaugural Shabbat
09/01/2017 | Rosaleen Fenton | Ilford Recorder
Members of Woodford Liberal Synagogue and Bet Tikvah Synagogue officially become the East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue on New Year’s Day.
A vote in September saw the two synagogues officially merge after members voted overwhelmingly in favour of unifying. To celebrate the merger, a celebratory service was held at both centres on Friday and Saturday evening, led jointly by Rabbi David Hulbert and Rabbi Richard Jacobi.
Bob Kamall, co-chairman of EL&ELS, started the Friday service at the former Bet Tikvah Synagogue, in Newbury Park by blowing the Shofar – the Rams horn traditionally blown at special events – and reading a prayer written for the occasion.
He said: “I was delighted to have the honour of announcing the arrival of the new community in such a traditional way and thanked all those from both of the former synagogues who have worked so hard to make the inaugural services possible.”
The prayer was re-read by Shirley Forbes, also co-chair of EL&ELS, at the start of the service on Saturday morning at the former Woodford Liberal Synagogue, where the service ended with another blowing of the Shofar.
The theme of the services focused on the biblical journey taken by Abraham and that of the new Synagogue community over the last couple years – a journey that still continues as they search for a new home.
Shirley Forbes, fellow chairwoman, added that “it was wonderful to see so many members of the legacy synagogues sharing in the celebrations over the weekend and working together to form our new single community”.
On New Year’s Eve, members enjoyed a musical service ahead of the merger , followed by a Chanukah-inspired Kiddish featuring lots of doughnuts. Rabbi Richard Jacobi of Woodford Liberal Synagogue, said: “We had a wonderful service across the generations, accessible to all and enjoyed by everyone.
“We marked the final Shabbat before becoming part of East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue with joy, dignity and celebrations of Shabbat, Chanukah and the new year of 2017.”