Prince Charles marks 175th anniversary of West London Synagogue


The Prince of Wales was the guest of honour at a ceremony marking West London Synagogue's 175th Anniversary.

Prince Charles attended a special siyyum celebratory service followed by a reception for members of the congregation and the shul's social action volunteers.

Senior Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger said having the royal visitor at the historic venue for the first time was “a great joy.”

She said: “This is his first visit to West London and it is one of the great joys for me and our 175th year. I don’t think we could have asked for anything else.

“He really enjoyed it. He was clapping and tapping his feet and he met a lot of people.”

The Prince, who was greeted by Rabbi Neuberger and the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Lady Christabel Flight, spent time talking to asylum seekers and refugees who have been helped by the synagogue’s drop-in centre.

Rabbi Neuberger said: “He is very passionate about the asylum seeker issue and he spoke at length to people who we have opened our doors to.

“He said he feels very strongly about it and told me he feels strongly about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians as well.”

Asylum seekers who spoke to Prince Charles were visibly moved as they shared their stories.

Founded in 1840, the synagogue is the oldest Progressive shul in Britain and the flagship synagogue of the Movement for Reform Judaism.

Speaking about her own relationship with Prince Charles, Rabbi Neuberger said: “I’ve known him for a long time, I’m very fond of him and today he met my husband for the first time, who he was convinced did not exist up until now.

“He wanted to come to something important and here it is. The 175th anniversary and what this synagogue was all about was bringing Jewish communities together and pledging loyalty to the crown.

“That is important I think, especially as he is a big fan of interfaith and dialogue.

“The fact that he wants to be defender of faiths is a great compliment to Britain as it is now.”

Julie Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, said: “I feel humbled and privileged to be standing in this fantastic building, celebrating this anniversary among people who I can call friends – fellow peacemakers striving for a better world.”

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