By Cyril Korn - a member of our P2K steering committee
The New London Synagogue is a community close to the centre of London, that offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity. We are a traditional Anglo-Jewish congregation in practice and non-judgemental in outlook. It is a special blend that we think is contemporary Judaism at its best.
Our services are orthodox in style and we use the Singer's prayer book and both the Hertz and Etz Haim Chumashim. The Synagogue building which opened in 1882, is one of the most beautiful in London and a joy to pray in. We are affiliated to the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues and the World Council of Conservative Judaism.
We have a professional, mixed choir once a month and on festivals. Our main service is led by a professional Chazan and seeks to maintain the finest musical traditions of Anglo Jewry. Men and women sit separately with parallel seating downstairs and a Ladies Gallery upstairs. Women are counted in the Minyan and encouraged to say Kaddish. We also have a three-weekly second service - Minyan Chadash - that is less formal, participatory, and egalitarian.
What is distinctive about our community?
the new london synagogue was founded in 1964 by Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs z"l as a congregation devoted to traditional Judaism with an ideology which interprets the Torah and Jewish teachings in the light of contemporary knowledge and scholarship.
Dr. Louis Jacobs z"l was one of the world's most distinguished rabbinic scholars and authors. He wrote more than fifty books and was widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest authorities on all major aspects of Jewish studies including Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, Responsa, Liturgy, Hasidism, Mysticism, Kabbalah, Philosophy and Theology.
For more than 40 years Rabbi Jacobs served this congregation which he founded with brilliance and distinction. The Masorti Movement he inspired has grown into a dynamic movement built on his theology and teachings.
In December 2005, a Jewish Chronicle poll in which 2000 readers took part voted Rabbi Jacobs the greatest British Jew in the community's 350-year history in England.
Rabbi Jacobs died on Shabbat 1st July 2006/5th Tammuz 5766.
New London has always been a pioneering congregation, leading the way to an enlightened Judaism and representing a rare combination of intellectual integrity together with loyalty to the finest traditions of the Jewish way of life.
We recognize that Judaism has always been a combination of tradition and change, an ever evolving search for an understanding of God's teachings and for the way of life which will be pleasing in God's eyes. New London believes that 21st century Judaism can be flexible enough to meet the challenges of new times and firm enough to remain loyal to the core of Jewish tradition and practice.
Rabbi Reuven Hammer is currently serving the New London Synagogue as its interim Rabbi. A former President of the international Rabbinical Assembly. (the first resident of Israel to be elected to that position). He is one of the founders of the Masorti movement in Israel and has served in many key capacities.
Rabbi Hammer is a prolific writer and his articles appear often in the Israeli press and elsewhere. Two of his books, Sifre, A Taanaitic Commentary on Deuteronomy and Entering the High Holy Days, were awarded the National Jewish Book Council prize as the best book of scholarship for the year. In 2003 he was awarded the Simon Greenberg Award for Lifetime Achievement . In that year he was named one of the " Forward 50 ". In the citation the Forward wrote that he is " arguably the most important religious leader in the (Conservative) Movement "
The New London Synagogue through its extensive programme of services, classes, lectures, life cycle events, Bar/Bat Mitzvah training, conversion classes and communal celebrations provides its members with opportunities for religious, spiritual and intellectual growth.
New London is a sacred community- a group of people - men, women and children - who have come together in order to promote a sacred way of life, transforming the principles of Judaism from theory into practice. It is a group of people who are concerned and caring for other another, who respect one another, allowing for difference and divergence within the framework of the ideals of the community.
As a member of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues and the World Council of Masorti/Conservative Synagogues - it is part of a large, world-wide movement of like-minded groups with close ties to congregations and individuals in Israel and throughout the world.