Ruislip Synagogue’s 70th Anniversary Celebrations

The celebrations began on Friday evening with the Service being well attended, followed by an extra special Kiddush.

Early on Shabbat morning Andrea Batsman, RLG Chairman, and her band of willing volunteers were there to arrange a very special Kiddush to follow the Shabbat Service.

The Service was taken by Rabbi Stanley Coten, along with guest Cantor David Apfel and Bernard Kasin. Where possible the warden, Huw Davis, arranged aliyot for past members.

It was a very well attended Shabbos Service with old and new members filling the Synagogue, including dignitaries, the Mayor and Mayoress of Hillingdon Councillor John Hensley and Mrs Diane Hensley, and Chief Inspector Rob Bryan. Rabbi Coten gave special thanks to our eminent visitors the Mayor and Mayoress who, sadly, had a very busy schedule and were unable to stay to the end of the Service and join the community for the Kiddush. Rabbi Coten thanked Cantor David Apfel for his participation in the Service.

Rabbi Coten gave special thanks to the Chief Inspector and to all the policemen and women who help us to feel secure whilst attending synagogue in these days of unrest. Rabbi Coten pointed out that, in fact, one member of the police has probably attended our synagogue more than some members of the Synagogue!

Warden, Huw Davis thanked everyone for coming and spoke of the birth of Ruislip Synagogue way back in 1946 and the founder members efforts to raise monies for a building and then, after much difficulty, managing to obtain the ‘temporary’ site which we are still using. Remembering with gratitude past Reverends Wilner, Honig and Wolfson, and the wonderful lay readers such as the very able and clever Sydney Davis OBE, who was also Chairman of AJEX and also past Chairmen of the BoM who had all worked so hard to keep Ruislip Synagogue a viable place of worship and venue for community events.

On Sunday evening, 11 September, a Gala Dinner was held in the Synagogue Hall.

Menahem Briskman, our present Chairman of the Board of Management, opened the evening by welcoming our honoured guests, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Mr Stephen Pack, United Synagogue President with Mrs Cheryl Pack, and Mr David Apfel with Mrs Leonie Apfel.

Huw Davis then explained how the evening was planned with the main meal being served followed by the entertainment by David Apfel, and then by a buffet dessert and hot drinks. Jasmine Caterers set up the food in our new kitchen which was bequeathed by Maurice Shapiro z”l.

This was followed by Rabbi Coten thanking our special guests and all those who were present. The Toast to the Queen was given by Martin Taffel and Stephen Pack gave the Toast to the President and the State of Israel. Later, Mr Pack, in his speech said that he was especially pleased to return to Ruislip - even if it was a temporary building!

Chief Rabbi Mirvis took the floor and gave us a most wonderful talk filled with anecdotes and even explaining the meaning of the name Ruislip, (from the ancient ‘Rush’ and ‘Leap’ over the River Pinn) which really set the warm mood for the rest of the evening.

Everyone enjoyed the sumptuous meal amongst family and friends. Again many thanks to the sub-committee, who had spent many months organising the whole affair. With a lovely commemorative brochure, produced by Sylvia McCallum, entertainment by Cantor David Apfel and his dear wife Leonie, who accompanied him on piano keyboard when he sang beautifully in English, Hebrew and Italian, and made us laugh at his well timed jokes.

Sylvia was official photographer for the evening as usual. How she managed to get everyone to stand still and in the right place was a miracle in itself, but these photos will have captured the electric atmosphere of the whole 70th anniversary weekend forever.