'Arsenal rabbi' kicks-off new Highgate era

By Jay Grenby, October 3, 2008

Barely a few weeks into his first communal rabbi's job at Highgate Synagogue, Nicky Liss has shown his mettle by introducing a bundle of initiatives to usher in "a new era in one of London's fastest-growing shuls".

Rabbi Liss, his wife Shuli and their four children - three girls and a boy aged between 20 months and eight years - arrived in Highgate in mid-August to replace Rabbi Yitzchok Sufrin, who served the community for 15 years.

For the past nine years, the rabbi has been living and studying in Israel, where his most recent post was as halachic authority and pastoral counsellor to the Yeshivat Midrash Shmuel community in Jerusalem. But he was born and brought up in Finchley - "I'm a Kinloss boy through and through".

He was deputy head boy and football captain at Hasmonean and has been closely involved with Bnei Akiva, Seed and the Jewish Learning Exchange. A keen Arsenal supporter, he proudly recalls the day he was a mascot.

Although the Highgate post is nominally part-time, Rabbi Liss has also taken on the headship of the community's cheder, a task made easier by the family's occupation of the cottage adjoining the shul, tucked away down a lane in the heart of Highgate Village.

With its 350 member families, it draws on a large catchment area - in addition to those living in the immediate vicinity, it attracts worshippers from neighbouring Hampstead Garden Suburb and Muswell Hill who prefer its intimate atmosphere to the bigger shuls in their own locality.

Highgate chair Nigel Lithman said the rabbi and his wife "will spearhead youth activity, welfare for the aged and adult education. These are exciting times for the shul."

Last updated: 5:17pm, October 2 2008