Lord Sacks: 'Take note London'

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 4, 2010
The Chief Rabbi at Etz Chaim Synagogue while  on his northern tour

The Chief Rabbi at Etz Chaim Synagogue while on his northern tour

The Chief Rabbi has said an ambitious project to celebrate 150 years of Leeds Jewry should be replicated in other UK communities.

Lord Sacks was guest speaker at a dinner at Etz Chaim Synagogue for 200 people to launch LJ150, which will see public exhibitions of the city's Jewish heritage over the next two years.

Commenting afterwards, he praised "the way that generations are in dialogue through this project and the way community elders keep the needs of the young at the forefront of their minds".

The community effort, co-ordinated by Leeds Jewish education charity Makor, includes family histories published in a book with the assistance of Leeds City Museum, which is to host a Jewish Day exhibition on November 28.

A film project by young Jews at The Zone club is intended to capture the aspirations of the next generation.

"The old and young community are coming together in a creative way which should be imitated by London," Lord Sacks added.

Generations of leadership were celebrated in a double presentation. To a standing ovation, Reverend Gerald Harris, emeritus minister of Etz Chaim Synagogue, was honoured as its founder and community figure. Then it was the turn of his grandson Sagi Yechezkel, the new youth director for Leeds' three Orthodox synagogues.

The Archbishop of York and the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire were also guests at the dinner. It marked the end of a Shabbat visit to Leeds by the Chief who also spoke at the United Hebrew Congregation, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol and the Lubavitch Centre. On Sunday he spoke to UJIA activists before heading on to Hull, to dedicate the city's mikveh and a new oleh.

He travelled to the Ella Street cemetery to unveil a plaque in the hall built earlier this year. He then returned to the shul for a reception with 150 people. Lady Sacks officially opened the mikveh.

Shul president Jonathan Levine said: "The Chief Rabbi made the point that Hull reflects Jewish life in this country because it is small and the wider Jewish community in Britain is small." The visit, his first to Hull for 15 years, had been "a spiritual boost for everyone".

Lord Sacks had started his northern itinerary in Manchester, where he paid tribute to South Manchester Synagogue's Rabbi Yitzchok and rebbetzen Chaiky Rubin for 25 years' community service at a breakfast for 70 people.

In north Manchester, he marked the completion of £1 million of restoration work to Rainsough cemetery and spoke at an assembly at Bury and Whitefield Jewish Primary.

Last updated: 9:19am, November 5 2010