This morning, Thursday 17 December 2015, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales joined a congregation of more than 400 at a special service at West London Synagogue. The service – a siyyum or conclusion – brought to a close a year of special events to mark the 175th anniversary year of the synagogue.
His Royal Highness was welcomed by West London Synagogue’s Chairman, Jill Todd. Jill expressed the congregations’ sense of honour and delight at his presence: “We are honoured that HRH The Prince of Wales chose to join us at West London Synagogue, for our special ‘siyyum’ service, concluding the tremendous year we have just had celebrating our 175th anniversary. In 1840, a group of pioneering families at Bevis Marks Synagogue and the Great Synagogue in the East End of London took the decision to bring together the Sephardic and Ashkenazi divisions of Judaism to form the West London Synagogue of British Jews – loyal to the crown and to the United Kingdom where we had found our home.
“Since then, this synagogue has played a leading role in the great Reform Movement of British Judaism: educating women as well as men, feeding and supporting the hungry and oppressed, recognising gender equality and working with other communities and faiths to accept our differences and achieve harmony. We are truly grateful for such a wonderful public declaration of confidence in our work”.
A special interfaith welcome was given by Julie www.bestventolininhalers.com Siddiqui, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain: “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”.
A Torah service was led by West London Synagogue’s rabbinic team, Rabbi Helen Freeman, Rabbi Neil Janes, Rabbi David Mitchell and Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, with Senior Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger and Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, giving the closing blessing. The spectacular music covered 500 years of liturgy, with the congregation singing in full voice. Immediately following the service, the Prince of Wales met West London Synagogue’s Music Director Professor Christopher Bowers Broadbent (who himself has recently completed 50 years’ service to the congregation) as well as members of the synagogue’s professional choir. His Royal Highness also met ten members of the congregation who had participated in the service.
At a reception following the service, groups of people representing the wide range and vibrancy of West London Synagogue’s activities were presented to the Prince of Wales, including volunteers, senior members, donors, and participants in the congregation’s interfaith and social action work. In particular, he met individual members of just a few of the families who have used and enjoyed the services of the synagogue’s Drop-In Centre for Destitute Asylum Seekers, or from its Winter Night Shelter, run in conjunction with six local churches.
Photos: Clarence House