The Western Marble Arch Synagogue has followed reductions in membership fees by slashing its charges for wedding ceremonies.
A new “highly competitive” basic rate for forthcoming weddings is around £1,000, down from £1,850, and includes security, the services of the registrar and a free year’s membership for the newlyweds. The rate also applies to weddings previously booked but yet to take place.
Last month, the Central London shul announced massive cuts in membership fees — by as much as 50 per cent for those in the 21-35 age group — in a bid to attract new and younger members to an ageing congregation.
With its proximity to top West End hotels and good nearby parking, the prestigious Great Cumberland Place synagogue has long been a popular venue for weddings and other simchahs. Another attraction is the potential availability, at additional charge, of the shul’s minister and eminent chazan, Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld, “though couples are, of course, welcome to use their own rabbi or chazan for the ceremony”, explained new administrator Jennie Raperport.
“Already, the number of couples due to get married here is up on last year and as we get inquiries and visits virtually every week, the figures are sure to increase.”
Whereas the great majority of weddings taking place at Western Marble Arch are of couples from outside the congregation — of the 17 weddings booked for the current year, only one involves a member’s family — it is hoped that this latest initiative will set more younger people on the path to permanent membership.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor was a special guest on Shabbat, where the congregation also included Sir Jonathan and Lady Sacks.