Batmitzvah in Catholic school

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010
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Woodside Park batmitzvah girl Sasha Miller completed her dvar Torah at a local Catholic school after the synagogue was evacuated in a security scare on Shabbat.

More than 300 congregants were forced to vacate the shul in the middle of the service after concern was raised about a badly parked van with a foreign number plate outside the shul.

Police and the CST were summoned but the vehicle was found to be a bakery van.

By that time, arrangements had been made to continue the service at Finchley Catholic School. There congregants, including relatives of the batmitzvah girl who had travelled from America, sat on benches in the sports hall.

Woodside Park's Portuguese caretaker Paulo Kohut carried the Sefer Torah and armfuls of siddurim to the emergency venue. The all-clear was given for guests to return to the shul for the kiddush.

Synagogue vice-chairman Andrew Plaskow said:"That we managed to do a proper service against all odds just shows how fantastic the community is. We are very thankful to the school."

In an email to members, chairman Gary Simon praised the vigilance of the security team and thanked Mr Kohut and the young members of the synagogue for their help in setting up the temporary service. He said Sasha Miller had not been affected, delivering "her beautiful dvarTorah with great style".

Last updated: 2:35pm, June 17 2010