On Sunday 6 September Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue (BSRS) celebrated the dedication of its new building, with a service led by Fiona Karet Frankl and addressed by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner from the Movement of Reform Judaism as Berenice Mann explains.
On a sunny afternoon in Cambridge, over 200 people arrived to fill the synagogue, including around 60 invited guests and dignitaries and over 130 members.
The guests included Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, as well as the Mayor of Cambridge and several council representatives. From the Jewish community, The Chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism, Vice-President of the Board of Deputies and Chair of Leo Baeck College were present as well as some of the founding members, former leaders and original building committee of Beth Shalom.
In addition the religious leaders of many other faiths in Cambridge were present including representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Baha’i communities, among them the Arch Deacon of Ely.
The service began with a procession of the Torah scrolls and a short address by Chair of BSRS Council, Mike Frankl, extending a warm welcome to all the guests and relating a short history of the Reform Jewish community in Cambridge. He also mentioned our wish to extend help to the current refugees and asylum seekers, whose plight the Jewish community understand all too well. The service included songs and psalms, as well as prayers for the community, for interfaith understanding and for asylum seekers and refugees.
The main address was delivered by Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner, Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism, in which she talked about how welcoming and inclusive the Beth Shalom community has been over the many years she has known it. At the end of the service, Abi Stacey sounded the shofar and this was followed by a beautiful rendition of ‘Halleluyah’ by the Kol Echad Choir directed by Mike Gait.
After the service, refreshments were served and MP Daniel Zeichner gave a short speech (pictured) and mentioned how impressed he was with the inclusiveness of the Beth Shalom community.
Mike Frankl remarked: “We are delighted to welcome so many friends and visitors, representing a large section of the wider Cambridge community as well as many past and present leaders and members of Beth Shalom to this joyful and historic event. It has been a very special day and we have much to celebrate with our beautiful new synagogue open and now in day to day use creating a focal point for our community. This has not happened overnight and is thanks to all those dedicated volunteers who have organised fundraising, donated both money and time, organised purchase of a suitable site and managed the building process.”