Three shuls support plan for pluralist community

By Jay Grenby, July 22, 2013
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Instruments of unity: a "Shul of Rock" service has been among joint events held by the communities

Instruments of unity: a "Shul of Rock" service has been among joint events held by the communities

Liberal, Masorti and Reform congregations in north-west London have overwhelmingly backed plans to create a pluralist community.

The May 2012 accord between the Middlesex New (Reform), Hatch End Masorti and Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogues was supported at special general meetings held by the three shuls last week. These followed an extensive consultation process.

A fourth member of the project, the Hatch End-based Kol Chai Reform, will vote on its participation in September.

The shuls have been planning the collaboration for three years and a joint religion school, Hamokom, is already well established.

Under the agreement, communal, social and educational activities will be provided, although the shuls will continue to hold separate services.

Harrow and Wembley Progressive and the Middlesex New are already operating from the same building in Bessborough Road, Harrow. However, a working party is actively seeking new premises for the joint community. It will need to accommodate the three denominations, allowing a joint Reform congregation of some 900 families — plus another 400 families from the Masorti and Liberal shuls — to hold services simultaneously, as well as housing cultural and educational activities.

Joint events to date have included Shavuot study sessions and an erev Shabbat “Shul of Rock” service, the latter aimed at attracting a younger age group.

Middlesex New minister Rabbi Kathleen Middleton sees the venture as “the most exciting project within Progressive Anglo-Jewry, which many other communities are watching with great interest. It takes positive steps towards securing our future.”

Echoing her comments, MNS chair Harry Grant said: “We are the trail-blazers. But I firmly believe that all synagogues should be working more closely together.

“Pooling resources in this way will not only benefit our existing members, but should also provide the boost to help us attract the substantial number of Jews living in this area who are not affiliated to any shul.”

Last updated: 10:45am, July 22 2013