Double Celebration for Chigwell & Hainault Synagogue

There was much to celebrate at Chigwell and Hainault Synagogue on Sunday 16 June. A capacity audience of more than 450 gathered as the synagogue’s senior Rabbinic couple, Rabbi Rafi and Rebbetzin Chaya Goodwin were formally installed in office.

In addition, after an extensive refurbishment and remodeling the synagogue was rededicated and officially re-opened.

Guests of honour at the celebrations included The Chief Rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE, and Lord and Lady Sugar as well as the synagogue’s former senior Rabbinic couple Rabbi and Rebbetzin Davis, many other local Rabbis, and the extended Sugar family including sons Simon and Daniel.

The synagogue’s building project has taken around 20 months following an extensive consultation, fundraising and planning process.
The community’s financial contributions (from over 1,000 people) were matched by the Sugar family and the United Synagogue also made a contribution.

The synagogue site will now be known as The Sugar Community Campus and the synagogue itself will be the Lord and Lady Sugar Community Hall.
The entrance has now been re-sited to be via the former car park with the former entrance area being used to create the Jan and Geoff Marcus Youth Room.

The project also included the linking of the synagogue building and the community hall, now the Johnny and Minnie Simons Hall, named in memory of Lady Sugar’s parents.

The link area now creates a reception area which can also be used as pre-function space for celebrations and events held in the newly refurbished hall.

Enhanced facilities are also created for the on-site nursery and a variety of classrooms for other educational and communal purposes. The campus is truly a center for the local Jewish community and its many facets. The synagogue was first consecrated on the site in Limes Avenue, Chigwell on 5 December 1976.

Colin Franklin, the synagogue’s Chairman and co-chair of the building committee, welcomed the community back to the new facility noting the Sugar family’s donation to the facilities was more than just in bricks and mortar it was to invest “in the very heart of our community, in the place where we gather, where we learn and celebrate, your family’s commitment to this synagogue and to our shared values is an inspiration to us. Thank you on behalf of us all”.

Colin also thanked the United Synagogue for their leadership, faith in the community and ensuring the future for generations to come. As well as thanking the community for their contributions, support and patience through the project. He also acknowledged the vision and drive of Rabbi Davis and his co-chair Kevan Green for their roles in conceiving and gathering momentum and support for the project as well as the efforts of a large number of others.

The Chief Rabbi addressed the community encompassing both the project but especially the spiritual leadership provided by “a most wonderful, tremendous, inspirational couple Rabbi Rafi and Rebbetzin Chaya”. He also thanked Lord and Lady Sugar not just for their contribution to this project but for what they do for the community and the country. In terms of the Goodwins, the Chief Rabbi went on to say that “the community are the luckiest community to have you, people of a sweet nature, there for one and all, people can rely on them and be inspired by them, and incredible teachers”.

The Chief Rabbi further expanded on the importance of celebrating commencement, noting both the new building and the rabbinic couple. By celebrating commencement “we celebrate the future” and noting the opportunities and dreams that lie ahead. In expressing his optimism for the future of the community he said “Chigwell and Hainault is the most amazing community, the most incredible people, a warmth of hospitality, the kindness, the atmosphere, the inspiration is truly tremendous”.

In his address Rabbi Goodwin, with reference to the weekly Torah readings either side of the event (Naso and Behalotacha) he noted the lesson for the community that “each person can offer something that the next person can’t” and in that he valued the whole community together and separately. Paying further tribute to the community he used the words that Rabbi Davis had told him when ‘handing over’, that “you won’t find a nicer community to serve than here, and Rabbi Davis, you were right…people really care about each other here. As your Rabbi and Rebbetzin we are humbled and blessed and have the distinct honour to try and inspire and encourage you all to bring your unique offerings just like the tribal leaders in the Torah”. He continued “Now that we are blessed with this beautiful, stunning new synagogue we must make sure to make full use of it, and we are not just limited to the building either, we must take the light that emanates from here to the whole community and beyond”.

Other speakers included Kevan Green, Rabbi Davis, and Life President of the synagogue, Lindsay Shure. Those gathered were also entertained by musical interludes from Dr Robert Sands, Chazan Eli Sufrin and Stephen Levey. The Chief Rabbi, accompanied by Lord Sugar, attached the new Mezuzah to the front doors and Lord and Lady Sugar unveiled plaques located at the entrance to the synagogue recognising the re-opening of the campus and the financial contributions made by so many. The formalities ended with a poignant procession into the synagogue of some of the children of the community, for they are the future of the community and “will derive most benefit from the refurbished facilities”.

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