Bushey Synagogue members have voted overwhelmingly for a £6.7 million redevelopment of the shul site, just over a year after rejecting the original proposals by a slim majority.
The support of around 85 per cent of those at last Wednesday’s extraordinary meeting means the board will seek planning permission from Hertsmere Borough Council for the three-phase programme. This involves a major reconstruction of the synagogue premises and the demolition and replacement of inadequate out-buildings which house a wide range of youth and communal activities.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to move our community forward, not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of all those who will follow us,” Bushey chairman Paul Mendelsohn told the meeting. Presenting the proposals alongside board member Louis Sharron, he urged acceptance of the plans, warning: “Our children and grandchildren will not thank us for choosing to do nothing.
“Our main building was designed more than 30 years ago to accommodate a community then totalling some 250 families, which was not expected to grow beyond 400 families. Our community now has a membership of some 1,300 families, equivalent to around 3,500 people.”
The buildings are in use every day and serve as a community centre for 2,000 people weekly.
Phase one of the proposed redevelopment would see the youth building replaced by a two-storey centre for children and youth. The second phase would be another two-storey structure comprising offices and cloakrooms. A Shabbat lift would also be installed.
The final element would be the creation of a synagogue area to accommodate 348 men and 320 women. The current ladies’ gallery area would be incorporated into a large function hall.
It is hoped that the cost of at least the first two phases will be met by private donations or grants and awards from trust funds. Congregants have been promised that there will be no borrowing or increase in membership fees without their consent.