Harrow rabbi’s challenging role

By Jay Grenby, November 13, 2008
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The future of Harrow's Middlesex New Synagogue community depends on its readiness to change, Rabbi Kathleen de Magtige-Middleton said on her induction on Sunday.

"This year, MNS celebrates its 50th anniversary," she told the 200-strong congregation. "This will be a time for celebration, reminiscence and reflection, but we should also use it as an opportunity to take stock of the past 50 years and plan for the next 50.

"Such planning demands a vision, and a vision demands the community's flexibility and preparedness for change. It also demands a great deal of co-operation and trust between rabbi and community."

Although the challenge filled her with trepidation, she was convinced MNS would play a part in strengthening Jewish life in Harrow and continue its involvement in the wider community.

Dutch-born Rabbi de Magtige-Middleton, 38, joined MNS in June after seven years as part of the ministerial team at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue St Johns Wood. LJS minister emeritus Rabbi David Goldberg told her new congregation of her empathy with all ages and her "poise, sunny personality and tact". Reform movement head Rabbi Tony Bayfield said she was the perfect rabbi to help MNS advance. "Reinventing is necessary and MNS has taken the first step in appointing a talented dynamic rabbi to lead the synagogue forward."

Guests included local MP and Employment Minister Tom McNulty and the Mayor and Mayoress of Harrow, Councillor and Mrs John Nickolay.

The induction was conducted by her predecessor Rabbi Simon Franses, now the congregation's emeritus minister.

    Last updated: 3:14pm, November 13 2008