A new Jewish community for East London as Bet Tikvah and Woodford Liberal Synagogues vote to unite

26 September 2016

A new Liberal Judaism community for East London and West Essex will be formed, after members of its two existing synagogues voted overwhelmingly to unify.

In parallel EGMs on Sunday September 25, members of Bet Tikvah and Woodford Liberal Synagogues voted in favour of the dissolution of their existing communities and the formation of a new single congregation.

The unification will take place on January 1, 2017, creating a community of approximately 700 members of all generations – led by Rabbis Richard Jacobi and David Hulbert.

Rabbi Danny Rich, senior rabbi of Liberal Judaism, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together the strengths and resources of Bet Tikvah and Woodford Liberal Synagogues.

“Under the leadership of Rabbis Richard Jacobi and David Hulbert, this new 700 member Liberal community is a statement of our confidence in, and desire to serve the Jewish community of Redbridge, Essex and beyond.”

In the votes, 86% of Bet Tikvah members and 81% of Woodford Liberal Synagogue members were in favour of unification.

Consultations will now take place over a name for the new community. Services will be held in both current synagogues for at least 18 months, while options for a joint building are investigated.

Woodford Liberal Synagogue chairman Jonny Hurst said: “This decision means that we are about to start an exciting new chapter for the Jewish community of East London and West Essex. We will now be one of the largest Progressive Jewish communities in the country, led by two highly respected rabbis.

“I genuinely believe that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts – creating a stronger and more secure community, without losing the identity and values which we have both developed and cherished over many decades.”

Bet Tikvah chairman Gary Freedman added: “This means that both communities are looking to the future, not only for themselves but for Liberal Judaism as a whole.

“This new unified synagogue will become the community of choice for all generations in the area, especially the growing number of families.”
[Picture: Woodford Liberal Synagogue chairman Jonny Hurst and Bet Tikvah chairman Gary Freedman]

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