Ealing Synagogue celebrates 95 years
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Monday 10th November 2014

Ealing US recently celebrate their 95th anniversary.

At the 95th Anniversary Dinner, Daphne Gerlis gave the following Toast to the Community. 

“Rabbis, Honorary Officers, Board of Management.  This is from an issue of The Ealing Review of 2006 and I just want to read an extract from Leon Gerlis’ “Alternative Encyclopaedia—Volume E”.  Eve was the first woman ever.  She also made medical history by being the first, and possibly the only, adult human clone, having been formed from one of Adam’s ribs.  Esther was the first, and only, Jewish queen, even though her husband was not Jewish”.  This of course brings me very conveniently to E—for Ealing, Queen of the Suburbs.

Ninety-five years ago a group of pioneers, some of the descendants of whom are here this evening, saw the need for an established minyan in the area.  They convened a meeting of the few local Jewish people—and the Ealing & Acton Synagogue was born.  A fragile baby at first, it grew and flourished and, as well as the shul itself, became the impetus for a wide range of activities—a nursery, a cheder, cultural, social and welfare groups, as well a B’nai B’rith, Habonim, WIZO and others.  What an enthusiastic, dedicated, hard-working band of people have supported this community since 1919.

The years sped by and the community faltered somewhat through a mid-life slow-down due to the perennial movement northward of most London communities for the past hundred or so years.  Latterly, on the High Holy Days, the shul was far from full, creating a rather dispiriting atmosphere.

The Board saw that something had to be done and the idea was mooted to sell the building and create a new one from the existing communal hall.  Shock horror!  Our beautiful shul, our lovely stained glass windows, our Ark, our memories.  But the majority of the members faced up to reality and a Building Committee was formed, revealing hidden talents and gaining a great insight into how things are done in the building trade.  And so the synagogue was reborn — the new Ealing Synagogue which everyone agrees has become the hub for what is once again a vibrant and viable community.

We boast a Guild (which, despite its rapidly increasing average age) caters for our every request, as well as beautifying the shul at the required times.  Our Social Committee is full of innovative ideas from a film show to a river cruise to a fashion show; as well as our immensely popular supper quiz.

Our shul Board has almost as many female members as male.  Let us pause for a moment whilst we try to imagine what our pioneers of 1919 would have thought of women on the shul Board!

And, most importantly, our Rabbi, Wardens and Honorary Officers, the glue which binds as all together, who work quietly behind the scenes to ensure that there is always a minyan, a Maftir zogger, a Hagbah strong man; and how many shuls can boast a Chazan who can adapt Adon Olam to order, be it The Marseillaise for French visitors, a Happy Birthday, the Anniversary Waltz.  You name it. 

Ealing is a small Jewish community.  We were not afraid to admit that our building was not fit for purpose.  What huge success our new Ealing Synagogue has become!

Rabbonim, Dr Gale, friends, please join me in saying a silent “Thank You” to those pioneers of 95 years ago who were responsible for where we are today, together with a toast, “Kol Hakavod” to our new Ealing Synagogue.