Luton US Celebrates Renovation of its Synagogue
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Thursday 6th July 2017

Sid Rutstein of Luton United Synagogue reports on a presentation at Luton United Synagogue entitled: ‘The Best Kept secret of British Jewry’.

Michael Kushner is a volunteer Bletchley Park guide. He described and illustrated the work of Station X, as the Code breaking facility at Bletchley Park was known during World War 2.

In 1938 potential code breakers were recruited by various simple means. Some were recommendations from universities for bright mathematicians and linguists, some were chess grand masters and applications were also invited from those who could complete the Daily Telegraph crossword within twelve minutes!

Ultimately there were ten thousand people employed at Bletchley Park and its satellite stations. All had to adhere to the Official Secrets Act, which commitment lasts indefinitely, and remarkably, secrecy was maintained for many years after the war ended. About eighty five percent of those involved were military personnel and three quarters of them were WRENS.

About two hundred of the code breakers were Jewish and Michael identified a number of them, described their various roles and their subsequent, and often eminent, careers.

Michael described how receiving stations all over the country, known as Y stations, collected encrypted radio signals and passed them to Bletchley Park where the messages were deciphered and the information passed on. The Enigma machine, the Bombe and, latterly, the Colossus, which was the first digital computer, were the means of analysing the encrypted signals.

After the war ended the Bletchley Park site was ‘stood down’ and the work was transferred, and remains to this day at GCHQ in Cheltenham.

Luton United Synagogue president Laurence Benjamin added: ‘The Synagogue was full to capacity when a meal to celebrate the renovation of the synagogue was followed by a Talk on Jewish Bletchley by Michael Kushner.

The renovation included fitting out of a new kitchen, so this function made use of these new facilities. The chicken meal was cooked by Brian Green, an Honorary Life Vice President of the community, ably assisted by his grand daughter, Maya, who cooked and prepared the peach flan desert. There was a wonderful community spirit, which members of the community helping with the serving.

After the meal, Michael Kushner informed the community in an illustrated talk of the vital role many Jews played in breaking the German codes in World War two. The talk included brief details of some of the more important Jewish code breakers and their relationships with key staff, such as Alan Turing.

For further information about future functions, please contact: info@lutonhebrew.co.uk