Chief praises leading couple

By Jay Grenby, December 9, 2009
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Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman (right) with Lord Sacks and Jonny Turgel

Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman (right) with Lord Sacks and Jonny Turgel

Lord Sacks told Northwood Synagogue congregants on Sunday that Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman and his wife Ilana made an “outstanding” team.

Conducting the induction of Rabbi Freedman, the Chief Rabbi reminded guests that with the couple respectively holding a Ph.D in medical physics and a degree in pharmacology, they could offer both spiritual and physical support.

“If one doesn’t work, they can try the other,” he suggested. “And as your new rabbi is a specialist in non-invasive surgery, either way, it won’t hurt!”

Designating Northwood as one of his favourite communities — “small, welcoming and intimate” — he compared it to the House of Lords, “which also has just too few seats for all its members”.

Northwood chair Alan Taylor said the minister was “a natural rabbi with a great future, and is taking to it all like a duck to water”. His wife had run a number of events for women.

Responding, Rabbi Freedman said: “The decision for Ilana and I to leave Israel, the country we had chosen to make our home, was not easy. However, the prospect of taking this prestigious position was an opportunity not to be missed.”

He also thanked his own and his wife’s parents and grandparents, all present at the induction ceremony, for “inspiring us and instilling into us a love of Judaism. For my parents, this day represents a double simchah — my induction as a rabbi and the moment when, after spending almost 13 years in higher academic and Torah educational institutions, their youngest son finally has a job.”

The service was led by chazan Jonny Turgel of Edgware Synagogue, who discovered a link between himself and Northwood’s minister. His grandparents, Holocaust survivor Gina Turgel and her husband Norman, were married in Belsen by Rabbi Freedman’s great-uncle, the late Reverend Leslie Hardman, the Jewish chaplain who accompanied the first British soldiers into the camp.

    Last updated: 3:58pm, December 10 2009