Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and his predecessor Lord Sacks both had cause for pride on Wednesday at the official opening of the new Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary premises in Finchley.
Named in honour of Lord Sacks, the school has Rabbi Mirvis as honorary principal, having overseen its development for the past seven years.
MP Mike Freer and Mayor of Barnet Councillor Melvin Cohen were also among the guests at the Stanhope Road building to witness what Rabbi Mirvis described as “a dream translated into reality”.
Governing body chair Jason Marantz gave a potted history of the voluntary-aided school, the idea for which was conceived by six families sitting in a succah.
Through their commitment, a school started with seven pupils now had 145 on the roll, progressing through temporary sites in Moss Hall Grove and Finchley Synagogue.
After plaques to the rabbis and school benefactors were unveiled, guests entered the school hall, where they were joined by the pupils, who sang for their audience in Hebrew and English.
“Chief Rabbi, we brought our plan to you seven years ago and your answer was simple,” Mr Marantz recalled. ‘This is music to my ears.’ You have been with us every step of the way.”
Addressing Lord Sacks, Rabbi Mirvis said: “What a wonderful tribute has been paid to you today through this school being named after you. You have presided over a generation of remarkable progress in Jewish education and it is now my opportunity to build on your successes.”
Responding, Lord Sacks said: “I cannot tell you how moving it is — when we think of the Jewish children we lost [in the Holocaust] — to see a new generation of children who are free to live their lives as Jews, who are free to celebrate their lives as Jews, who are free to contribute to society as Jews.
“We will have a great future because of schools like this. I cannot think of anything with which I am more proud that my name, Elaine’s name, and my late parents’ name be associated. Thank you for the privilege.”