Chief Rabbi celebrates 60 years of Jewish worship in Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 10:10 29 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:32 29 November 2016

The  Chief Rabbi watches as the mayor cuts an anniversary cake

The Chief Rabbi watches as the mayor cuts an anniversary cake


The leader of Britain's Orthodox Jewish community came to Welwyn Garden City to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the town's synagogue.

Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, joined nearly 150 people who enjoyed an informal tea at the synagogue hall in Barn Close.

Synagogue spokesman Phil Ravitz said: “The Chief Rabbi entertained a packed hall with his address, in which he referred to the origins of ‘Welwyn’ - willow in Old English - and discussed the significance of the tree in Jewish life, particularly at the festival of Succot.”

Guests included Max Lopes-Dias, one of the original members, and 99-year-old Sam Ostro.

Mr Ostro is the only survivor of 14 young men rescued from Nazi Germany by the Society of Friends in Welwyn Garden City.

Mr Ravitz added: “Max Lopes-Dias, still a member today, reminisced of the early days of the synagogue, recalling some of its stalwarts and characters of yesteryear, and gave a personal account of 60 years of the life of the community.”

Stephen Pack, president of the United Synagogue umbrella organisation, also gave a talk explaining that Welwyn Garden City could be a growth area for Jewish life in Hertfordshire.

The celebration was also attended by Welwyn Hatfield mayor Pat Mabbott and her consort Alan Franey.

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