Luton synagogue to become full US member
Luton Hebrew Congregation is to become a full constituent member of the United Synagogue.
Around half the community's 131 members attended an EGM to vote on a motion to end nearly 90 years of staunchly-maintained independence. Despite a long history of opposition, there was just one dissenting voice.
Synagogue chair Brian Green was delighted by the overwhelming support for the move. "We have recognised that as a smaller independent community on the fringes of London, we could no longer achieve further growth on our own.
"US membership will provide us with the infrastructure we need, including the opportunity to become full members of the US funeral expenses scheme, which will benefit our finances.
"It will also help to put Luton on the Jewish map, bringing in new young families who will appreciate the affordable housing and good transport links to London and the rest of the country, as well as the joys of being part of an attractive community."
Established in the 1920s, the Luton community reached its peak during World War II when many London families were evacuated to the Bedfordshire town. It had a town centre shul for 50 years and a popular youth club. The building was sold to the local Muslim community in 2001.
At the beginning of 2009, the community acquired a new permanent home, a former doctor's surgery in Dunstable Road, near junction 11 of the M1. This was speedily converted into a synagogue and community centre, with the first services taking place in the autumn. The formal consecration of the new shul by the Chief Rabbi is scheduled for next month.
United Synagogue community services director David Kaplan said the US council meeting in July "will formally vote on accepting this new community into the US family".