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New Shuls on the Block!

The Movement for Reform Judaism is delighted to wish a hearty Mazel Tov to two new members of our family. The Isle of Wight Jewish Society in Cowes, and Tikvah Chadasha from Brentwood in Essex have been formally accepted into the Movement which means our number has been extended to a total of 44 synagogues.

The MRJ Council formally accepted their individual applications during Sunday’s AGM enabling both communities to play a formal part in the Reform Movement’s organisation with immediate effect. Tikvah Chadasha are joining us as a full constituent member, and the Isle of Wight Jewish Society as an associate congregation.

The IOW Society was formed in 2005 when a minyan was needed to say prayers following the death of a Jewish resident on the Island. It’s been a case of no weddings and a few funerals since then but they now hold regular services, celebrate all Jewish Festivals and the society membership has grown to 23. They’ve  established close links with MRJ over the past 16-years and now they’ve tied the knot! Is that a shidduch?

Chair Jonathan Bluestone said: “We put an ad in the paper when we first moved to Cowes to see if there was a community here. We discovered that there were Jewish families but nothing was organised. We’ve worked hard since then to put roots down in a formalised way but we’re an ageing congregation because people mainly come to the Island to retire.

“We’re still awaiting our first Bar or Bat Mitzvah but we’ve covered pretty much everything else with help from MRJ and some of the communities on the south coast.”

Tikvah Chadasha or New Hope used to be known as the Shenfield and Brentwood Synagogue and was originally affiliated to Liberal Judaism. But the community always leaned towards a more traditional side of progressive Judaism and after leaving LJ two years ago they have now committed their future to MRJ.

They have around 100 members and like IOW are a lay led congregation assisted regularly by visiting Rabbis and students from Leo Baeck College.

Their Community Leader Natasha Radford said: “We’re very proud of the way things have developed in recent years. We have our own rescued Scroll which we reckon is at least 150 years old. We had it shipped over from the Czech Republic, carried out extensive repairs and it now takes pride of place in our Ark which is based in my parent’s conservatory!

“We’re conscious of the age of our group so we include the children in our services as much as possible. We want them to grow what we have started here so that in the years to come we can become a well-established part of the Jewish community.”

Pictured: Members of the Isle of Wight Jewish Society
Pictured: Hannah Witziers from Tikvah Chadasha with Rabbi David Hulbert
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