Rev Leslie Mockton

A ministry marked with unique skills, empathy and humour


He was a classic “old-school” minister, serving in several synagogue communities in a distinguished pastoral career spanning more than 40 years. Rev Leslie Mockton, who has died aged 91, was noted for his sense of humour and expressive use of Yiddish, which helped put congregants at their ease.  

Always known as “The Reverend”, he  brought a distinctive warmth to the then all-encompassing role of minister/reader. He was also chaplain to Whipps Cross and Claybury psychiatric hospitals. 
Understanding that the traditional shul service had its origins in the drama of the Temple practice, he imbued each part of his services with a dignified ceremony; this understanding also underpinned his appreciation of chazanut. He spoke with clear diction and possessed an insightful sense of occasion which enabled him to individualise any ritual or social event.

He was interested in current affairs as well as Anglo-Jewish social and rabbinic history and thought. He had a variety of books on these topics and possessed some rare Yiddish works.
Born in Cheetham Hill, North Manchester, to Hetty, née Forester and Isaac Mocton (originally Macatonia or Moctonian), he was the eldest of two boys and two girls.

Leaving school at 14 during the war, he enrolled at the renowned Manchester Yeshiva and embarked on a career as a minister, mentored by the late educationalist Rabbi Kopul Rosen. His early positions included Kenton, Chelmsford and Barking & Beacontree, before being appointed assistant minister at the West End Great Synagogue. After keeping what he needed from his salary to meet his necessary expenditure, he sent the balance home to his family. He married Ray Jaswon at the Higher Crumpsall Hebrew Congregation, Manchester in 1959, and they  had two daughters and a son.

The family then moved to the Bradford Hebrew Congregation where they remained for over four years, hosting students from Bradford University and organising a children’s weekly oneg Shabbat.
In 1969 he returned to London to take up his longest-serving position, at the Highams Park & Chingford Synagogue. He and Ray kept an open home, welcoming the community. The meals began with a beautiful intoning of Kiddush, accompanied by hearty singing of zemirot. 

After ten years at Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation, the Mocktons retired to Golders Green to be nearer family. He led religious services at Nightingale House care home and continued to provide pastoral care. Love of Torah and empathy hallmarked his character and ministry. 

In his later years he struggled with severe visual impairment but he remained devoted and attentive to Ray, who had developed dementia.  She survives him together with their children, grandchildren,  great-grandchildren and extended family. 

Rev Leslie Mockton: born  August 5, 1928 Died June 11, 2020


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