Boris Johnson joins groundbreaking ceremony for Jewish Community Centre

A CG image of the new building

A CG image of the new building

The long-awaited Jewish Community Centre on the Finchley Road in north London moved a step closer to completion today as a groundbreaking ceremony was held.

The centre, designed by architects, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, is set to open in 2013, ten years after it was first discussed.

Dame Vivien Duffield, the philanthropist behind the plans, was joined at the 35,000 square foot site for the ceremony by London Mayor Boris Johnson and representatives from across the Jewish spectrum.

Dame Vivien and Mr Johnson launched proceedings by shovelling earth into the building's foundations, on the site of a former Mercedes showroom.

Based on centres used across North America, the new JCC will include a kosher café, school, nursery and conference and lecture theatre facilities.

There will also be areas for arts and crafts, workshops and rehearsal studios, as well as 14 flats for residential use.

The intention is for a centre that can be used by Jews from every background, for both educational and cultural purposes. Last month's Rosh Hashanah edition of the JC, with a supplement looking at the nature of Jewish identity, has been placed in a time capsule at the site.

Dame Vivien said at the ceremony that her ambition was for the centre to be inspirational and "a place where Jewish culture is made as well as enjoyed".

Mr Johnson, describing the project as "wonderful," said it would become a "fitting home for London's Jewish community, as well as an excellent new centre for Londoners of all faiths.

"An outstanding example of a community coming together to make things better for the whole city, this is Team London in action and I hope it will inspire other Londoners.

"What's more, it's being built without a penny of public funds."

The chief executive of JCC Ventures, Nick Viner, added that he was confident the JCC would become "the hub of Jewish life in the capital and a catalyst for renaissance in our community".

    Last updated: 2:04pm, October 6 2011