Kingston Synagogue minister Rabbi David Mason celebrated two arrivals at the weekend. Late on Shabbat, his wife Elisheva gave birth to their third child, a son. And Sunday saw the advent of another of his “babies” — the consecration of the community’s first new Sefer Torah.
Following the discovery last year that three of the community’s scrolls were posul — flawed and unsuitable for use — Rabbi Mason came up with a plan to commission the writing of a new scroll and to further acquire a high-quality secondhand one. Congregants set enthusiastically about raising the necessary funds, with over 100 families sponsoring sections.
Sunday’s ceremony was preceded by the completion of the final letters by 86 congregants. The last letter was dedicated by the synagogue in honour of its oldest member, Flora Moss, who celebrated her 100th birthday in February. She watched proudly as her grandson Anthony Moss put the final touch to the Sefer Torah before the scrolls were paraded along the banks of the Thames to the accompaniment of shofar blasts from Michael Freedman.
A dedication service was led by chazan Lionel Rosenfeld and the Shabbaton Choir. Welcoming the 250 guests, including United Synagogue president Simon Hochhauser, Kingston chair Anthony Cowen said the new scroll “would be our heritage to our children and grandchildren”. Rabbi Mason spoke of his personal and communal joys from the weekend.