A Muslim man who says he owes his life to a Jewish doctor at Kingston Hospital has sponsored a kiddush in his memory at the local United synagogue.
The Muslim, who wishes to remain anonymous, first visited Kingston, Surbiton and District Synagogue earlier this year to try to trace consultant gastroenterologist Dr Tim Heymann, unaware that he had died from a brain tumour a few months previously at the age of 55.
He has become a regular at Shabbat and festival services and is studying Hebrew so he can better understand them.
“My father taught me to respect anyone who did good things for me,” he explained. “And I believe in toleration and co-existence among all peoples and religions.” He had felt immediately at home in shul.
“Not only was the community warm and friendly to me but I felt drawn emotionally to the sound of the Hebrew prayers, which I found very moving.”
To thank the congregation for being so welcoming — and as a posthumous tribute to Dr Heymann — he recently sponsored the kiddush, the first given by a non-Jew in the shul’s history.
Although the physician was not a Kingston member, his widow Amanda attended the kiddush.
Kingston chair Sheila Mann said the shul was pleased to help the man honour Dr Heymann.
“He comes to shul every Shabbat and often says how much he loves attending our services. He joined us for the whole of the Yom Kippur service and fasted all day. We are delighted to treat him as part of the communal family.”