Woodforest Forest US induct rabbi
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Wednesday 20th July 2016

On 17th July 2016 (11th Tammuz 5776) on a very warm summer’s day, Rabbi Mordechai & Rebbetzen Blima Wollenberg were inducted into office by the Chief Rabbi.

Rabbi & Rebbetzen Wollenberg (along with their 7 children who the Chief Rabbi managed to remember by name) are the first rabbinic couple ever to serve the new Woodford Forest Synagogue in N E London, formed by the merger of the former Wanstead & Woodford and Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregations.

A congregation of 250 people were in attendance including Dayanim, Rabbonim & Rebbetzens, Stephen Wilson Chief Executive of the US, Stephen Pack President of the US, many members of the Woodford Forest US Community and family and friends of the Rabbi & Rebbetzen.

The service was conducted by Chazzan Adrian Alexander who was accompanied by Rabbi Wollenberg’s mother on the keyboard, and parts were also played by the former ministers of the previous communities Rev Stewart Myers and Rabbi Beni Fleisher as well as Daniel Sacks, a prominent teenage member of the community.

Recently-elected chairman Robin Jacobs introduced the Chief Rabbi and commented that the community are finding it hard to keep up with The Wollenbergs!

The Chief Rabbi spoke about Rabbi & Rebbetzen Wollenberg’s personal qualities, making comparisons with the biblical Mordechai from the Megillah and his leadership qualities.  He made reference to the role Rabbi and Rebbetzen Wollenberg have taken on in the wider community, including his role at King Solomon High School, drawing on his years of experience as a governor at King David Schools.

Rabbi Wollenberg spoke about the importance of people, how people rather than buildings are what make a community and how he sees his role, like the word induction, as inspiring others and lighting a spark within each person, and helping them to find their niche and place in the community.  He spoke about the importance of building up infrastructure and facilities, rather than shying away, and about the centrality of hospitality and pastoral contact to his role.  He also paid tribute to his wife and children making reference to the fact that it is a team effort and they are the key to his success.

Stephen Pack spoke about the US’s commitment to the newly merged community and to providing assistance with its growth and development.  He also referred to the first meeting they had with the Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation and how they had said that one of the most important components of a merger was finding an outstanding rabbinical couple which the shul had done.

After the ceremony the Chief Rabbi put up a mezuzah on the new shul kitchen and unveiled a plaque.

The event was followed by a reception.