There were mixed emotions in Newbury Park on Shabbat as the final services were held in the Perrymans Farm Road premises of the former Bet Tikvah Progressive Synaogue.
Last year, Bet Tikvah amalgamated with the Woodford Liberal congregation to form the East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue.
The shul is in the process of being sold and services will continue at the former Woodford Liberal building in Marlborough Road until a permanent home for the merged community is found. The new congregation has just over 600 adult members.
At the Perrymans Farm Road farewell, long-serving Rabbi David Hulbert delivered an evocative sermon on memories of shul activities over more than 30 years.
Speaking afterwards, Rabbi Richard Jacobi — who leads the new congregation with Rabbi Hulbert — described the day as demonstrating the “life-enriching nature of community at its very best. All generations cherished the past, enjoyed the present and anticipated the future.”
The morning service, attended by around 150 people, was followed by a chavurah lunch, the opening of the Bet Tikvah archive and a question and answer session with four Bet Tikvah founders.
There was then a final havdalah service and closing ceremony.
Former Bet Tikvah chair David Forbes said: “Watching the Torah scrolls being taken out of the Ark for the last time was a particularly poignant moment and I couldn’t help feeling a little tearful.
“But all the memories will be coming with me and I am excited about the opportunity ELELS has to create a vibrant community and place of worship.” Liberal Judaism chair and ELELS member Simon Benscher added that the day had been a mixture of sadness and excitement. Although proud of Bet Tikvah’s achievements, Liberal Judaism was “looking forward to the continued development of Liberal Judaism in East London and Essex”.
Congregant Shirley Forbes reported that “in our first year, we have seen an increase in membership as people are attracted towards a form of Judaism reflective of the modern world. We are very excited about the move, in the short term to Marlborough Road, and then to a future in new premises.”
Bet Tikvah’s origins date back to the mid-1970s as a satellite community. It became a shul in its own right, initially known as Barkingside Progressive Synagogue, in 1981.