Southern comfort from spirited congregation


The fighting spirit of South London Synagogue - given a life expectancy of five years at its inception - was celebrated by more than 100 people at its silver jubilee celebrations.

Formed by the amalgamation of the Brixton and Streatham United synagogues, the 180-member congregation provides a daily minyan south of the Thames. Chairman Geoffrey Harris said people travelled from Sutton, Croydon and Wimbledon for the morning service, also attended by a handful of rabbonim.

It has revived Friday-night services and its weekly programme includes a Thursday lunch club for elderly members. The Leigham Road shul site is also home to a sheltered accommodation unit, South Lodge, run by the Jewish Community Housing Association. The 23 flats are also available to members of the wider community.

The chairman's wife, Jane - the shul's representative on the Board of Deputies - recalled that at the outset, "rather like Chanucah, we didn't have that much oil in our lamp. Even the United Synagogue thought our viability was about five years."

US president Stephen Pack was guest of honour at the anniversary party. Also present were local MP Chuka Umunna, emeritus rabbi Philip Ginsbury, former minister Rabbi Menachem Lester and Rabbi Yaacov Grunewald, who serves the community part-time.

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