For the 100 families who make up the Hadley Wood Jewish community, an offshoot of the Cockfosters and North Southgate United Synagogue, the Hachnasat Sefer Torah ceremony which marked the inauguration and dedication of the congregation’s new scroll was a landmark event.
The occasion was made all the more special for the community by the first visit to Hadley Wood of the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, who was among those who completed the writing of the scroll’s final letters.
The scroll was presented to the congregation by Bonnie Brooks in memory of her husband, Tony. Mr Brooks was instrumental in the founding of the community, and had been co-chairman at the time of his untimely death just over two years ago. It was at the Brooks’ home that the minyan had held its first Friday evening service 18 years ago, for the benefit of those local residents who wished to attend Shabbat services but did not want to do the three-mile walk to Cockfosters. Some 12 years later, the Hadley Wood congregation had grown to the extent that it was able to acquire a permanent home in Lancaster Avenue, as well as its own minister, Rabbi Zvi Wanderer.
After the 300-strong procession had sung and danced its way through the streets of Hadley Wood to the shul, the Sefer Torah was welcomed to its new home by Rabbi Wanderer, before being introduced to the community by Tony Brooks’ son, David, and formally received by the Chief Rabbi together with Rabbi Yisroel Fine, minister of the minyan’s Cockfosters parent.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Rabbi expressed his astonishment at how far the community had come in such a short space of time, before paying tribute to Tony Brooks’ work — not just for the Hadley Wood community but also for other communal bodies.
Other speakers included Rabbi Fine and Hadley Wood’s chair Mitchel Lenson, as well as Mrs Brooks.