An iconic Liberal synagogue building has held its last services, as members of East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue (ELELS) paid a fond farewell to Perryman’s Farm Road in Redbridge.
The building was formerly the home of Bet Tikvah Synagogue, which united with Woodford Liberal Synagogue last January to form ELELS.
Rabbi David Hulbert, Redbridge’s longest serving rabbi, led a special Shabbat morning service with around 150 people in attendance – delivering a powerful sermon on the wonderful memories created in a building that served his Bet Tikvah community for more than 30 years.
Speaking afterwards, Rabbi Richard Jacobi, who leads the new ELELS community alongside David, said: “Today, we saw the life-enriching nature of community at its very best. All generations cherished the past, enjoyed the present and anticipated the future.”
The morning service was followed by a chavurah lunch, the opening of the Bet Tikvah Archive and a question and answer session with Bet Tikvah founder members Hazel Isaacs, Rose Lautman and Jean Summberbell.
Later that afternoon, a final Havdalah service took place followed by a closing ceremony and the removal of the Torah scrolls.
David Forbes, a former chair of Bet Tikvah, said: “Watching the Torah scrolls being taken out of the Ark for the last time, at the conclusion of the final service, was a particularly poignant moment and I couldn’t help feeling a little tearful.
“But all the memories that I have will be coming with me and I am excited about the opportunity that ELELS has to create a new, vibrant community and place of worship.”
Liberal Judaism chair and ELELS member Simon Benscher added: “It was a day of mixed emotions, of excitement tinged with sadness.
Liberal Judaism is proud of the achievements of Perryman’s Farm Road, but is equally looking forward to the continued development of Liberal Judaism in East London & Essex.”
The ELELS community – which has more than 600 adult members as well as many children – had been holding services at Perryman’s Farm Road for the last year, but have now sold the building as they seek a new and unified home.
ELELS services will continue at Marlborough Road – the former site of Woodford Liberal Synagogue – until a new building is found.