US talks up the potential for growth in Hatfield

The United Synagogue's plans to make Hatfield a Jewish centre gathered pace with a public meeting on Tuesday.


Around 100 people from the locality, other Hertfordshire districts and beyond attended the information event at Beales Hotel.

“We are looking at developing community infrastructure,” explained US vice-president Leonie Lewis.

“I’m talking about the region we call Welwyn Hatfield and the surrounding area. What has happened is that there is funding available from the United Synagogue that we want to plough back into the local community.

“There is opportunity for partnership to shape the community — and partnership with Moriah School.” It has been suggested that a local branch of the Pinner primary could be established if demand was demonstrated.

“We believe this is an area of Jewish growth,” Mrs Lewis added. “The cost of housing in areas such as Borehamwood, Shenley and St Albans is more expensive. There are cheaper, nice homes in this area, which is important.

“It took me only 18 minutes to get here from Hendon. It is not far.”

Alan Capper, chair of the Moriah governors, said he was looking to replicate the success of the existing school.

“I was brought up, a long time ago, in a community of potential. That community was Pinner,” he told the meeting.

“If we wanted to open a school in this region, we would need to evidence parental engagement. It has been a fantastic journey to open such a successful school in Pinner and it’s a great opportunity for us to have perhaps the same possibility of opening a school in this region.” Ruth Gafson, the Moriah head, also spoke.

The nearby US Welwyn Garden City congregation has a membership of around 200 and there are an estimated 900 Jews in the surrounding areas.

Young couples who have settled in Hatfield told the JC they welcomed the US’s initiative.

Craig Fox, 29, and wife Natalie, 28, moved to the area two years ago.

“We don’t have children yet,” Mrs Fox said. “But these plans for Hatfield are very appealing to those wanting to start families.”

Suzie Ryan, 31, said the local Tesco had begun to stock kosher products in response to requests from Jewish residents.

She felt a Jewish school in Hatfield was needed because of the difficulty in finding places in Jewish primaries further afield.

The US has promised further consultation meetings.


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