"Kingston is an exciting place to be at the moment - and not just because of our proximity to the rising waters of the Thames," says Kingston Synagogue chair Dr Martin Wolfson. His comment refers to the impact of new rabbinic couple Samuel and Shoshana Landau and was made before a kiddush to welcome six young families and five other new members to the congregation.
The Landaus, unusual in that they share the job of community leadership, have launched a host of initiatives since their arrival. There has been a growth in membership and a decrease in the age profile. Dr Wolfsson added: "It is gratifying that our young members are now electing to buy homes and stay in this beautiful part of south-west London."
Rabbi Landau has introduced a monthly "Shabbat Shalom" series, with activities such as a group discussion or peer-led learning replacing the sermon. The service concludes with a hot kiddush. Mrs Landau has taken on education, pastoral visits and youth activities and has started a monthly women's group, Discovery.
Among the new members at the kiddush were Lynette and Elliot Rose and their daughters Estelle and 12-day-old Verity, prompting Rabbi Landau to conduct a baby blessing service - a first for the congregation.