A civic service kicked-off the 50th anniversary celebrations of The Liberal Synagogue Elstree.
Guests included the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Vos, Hertsmere Mayor Councillor Brenda Batten and Borehamwood town Mayor Councillor Victor Eni. Also among the congregation were some of TLSE’s founding members.The subsequent kiddush was served by the shul’s Kabbalat Torah class.
The community was founded in 1969 as the Stanmore Liberal Jewish Congregation with around 30 families.
It originally met in local halls and homes and founder member Monique Blake vividly recalls hosting one of the first services. Another previous name was Hertsmere Progressive before the congregation took over its permanent home in 1997, a Grade II-listed former school house in Elstree.
The building was in a poor state but was transformed by members working weekends and evenings to create the flexible shul, school and community centre in use today. TLSE now has more than 500 adult members.
Another founder, Val Dickson, said that while membership had increased, “the principles are the same as when the synagogue was founded. It has a modern Liberal take on Judaism which has been embraced by Rabbi Pete Tobias and all the other rabbis who have led this community.”
Rabbi Tobias feels“there is something unique about the atmosphere at TLSE. Every congregation claims to be welcoming and inclusive but the warmth and informality generated in this shul is very special.”
Celebrations will continue throughout the year with activities including a 50th anniversary supper quiz, a car rally and a children’s party.