Our Community

Claire Helman

I first came to the community on Rosh Hashanah several years ago. I hadn’t set foot in a synagogue for many years, and I was really struck by the welcome I received, and the genuine diversity of the community. I realised that I had found a fantastic place to explore and develop my Jewish identity, and somewhere where I felt at home. I have also served as Chair of such an energetic and thriving community, which continues to grow and develop.

Cheder Student

I have been attending the crèche and cheder at Kehillah North London with my elder sister Esther since I was a baby. I look forward to going to synagogue every fortnight. I have got to know many of the adult members of the community and have made a lot of good friends.We start with a Hebrew lesson, and this is followed by cheder.

When I was younger we did a lot of craft activities, cooking and acted out stories, but now that I am older we have discussions about Jewish history, what being Jewish means, and the different kinds of Judaism. We also discuss daily life and how we would act in certain situations. And of course I always look forward to cheder snack time, particularly the hummus or cream cheese bagels.

My favourite memories are of marching up Stoke Newington Church Street at night behind musicians playing klezma at Simchat Torah; eating under the sukkah draped in palm leaves; playing in the synagogue band; cheder expeditions to Bevis Marks and Walford Road synagogues; and camping trips with our families.

I have now started preparing for my Batmitzvah and am really enjoying studying the Torah and learning my Parshah with my tutor Levi.

Jackie Richards – Long Term Member

Much to my mother’s horror I decided to make my life “back in the smoke” rather than remain in the tranquil leafy outer suburb. After a few years in Hackney, I have lived the rest of my adult life in Tottenham with my husband Peter who is a Kehillah friend. We have two sons, Eddie who is married to Mareeni and with children granddaughter Ellie and grandson Leon. They live in Tottenham whilst Daniel lives in California married to Erin, with Damian, Erin’s child; we are his “magic grandparents”.

When NLPS had to close I definitely did not want to join a suburban synagogue or one in NW London. I was determined to be part of a vibrant, progressive Jewish community that was compatible with my working and family life. I was one of the founder members of NLPJC, now Kehillah; and led the development during the first five years. It is now a thriving community and I am delighted to have played a part, laying a framework that has now been taken further by others.  Kehillah is a community where everyone is valued and cherished and all can participate in a range of different activities relevant to the 21st century. I have the chance to connect with my strong Jewish roots, “let go” and recharge my batteries within a Jewish community so I can then face the challenges that life brings.

Jareds Bar Mitzvah

Jared’s Bar Mitzvah was on 5 April 2014 and it was a fabulous and memorable event. Our guests were an eclectic mix of traditional North London Jews aged 18 to 80 and eccentric non-Jews aged 15 months to 60.

Most of the Jewish guests were from my family and used to Orthodox services. Most of the non-Jews were friends, many of whom are gay and had never set foot in a shul before.

Fortunately, Kehillah North London is an inclusive community and everything went swimmingly. Everyone remarked on how warm and welcoming the shul was and they all said how much they had enjoyed the service.

This was all the more remarkable because Jared’s family is rather alternative. I am Jewish. My partner, Carla, is a Brazilian atheist. Jared’s Dad was brought up Scottish Presbyterian and his partner Michael is agnostic. My ex-partner, Jackie, who also has an important role in Jared’s life, was raised as an Irish Catholic.

Add in my divorced parents, their respective partners and about 40 other guests and it could have been a very challenging morning. But it wasn’t. Having spent about 18 months preparing, Jared was a star. His Dvar Torah was thoughtful and profound and he read his Paresha, the Brachot and the Haftorah beautifully.

Rabbi Shulamit was really helpful with the Dvar Torah and she structured the service so that lots of Jared’s family could play a part. We had people opening and closing the Ark, dressing the Torah, holding it up and taking it round the shul.

My brother gave a beautiful opening reading and he and my Dad stood next to Jared while he read his Paresha – which was a very special moment for them. Rabbi Shulamit gave a lovely sermon and at the end of the service, my Mum and I each gave a closing blessing to Jared, which was very moving for us and I think all the guests too!

All in all, I know I am biased as Jared is my son but I thought it was the best Bar Mitzvah service I have ever been to.

Thank you Kehillah and thank you Rabbi Shulamit.