South Woodford and Newbury Park synagogues to combine following vote

PUBLISHED: 13:16 26 September 2016

Woodford Liberal Synagogue chairman Jonny Hurst and Bet Tikvah's Gary Freedman shake hands immediately after the result of Sunday's vote was announced.

Woodford Liberal Synagogue chairman Jonny Hurst and Bet Tikvah's Gary Freedman shake hands immediately after the result of Sunday's vote was announced.

Simon Rothstein

A new 700-strong Jewish community is set to be founded in the borough after two Redbridge synagogues voted overwhelmingly to combine this weekend.

In two separate extraordinary general meetings on Sunday, members of Bet Tikvah synagogue, Perrymans Farm Road, Newbury Park and Woodford Liberal Synagogue, Marlborough Road, South Woodford voted in favour of the dissolution of their existing communities and the formation of a new single congregation.

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

After the votes were counted 86 per cent of Bet Tikvah members and 81pc of Woodford Liberal Synagogue members were in favour of unification.

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.”

A consultation will now take place allowing everyone from both congregations a chance to have their say on a name for the new community.

Services will continue at both current synagogues for at least the next 18 months while options for a new 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.”

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