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Harrogate Synagogue

Article received from Christ Church Magazine congregant.

Holocaust Memorial Day 4th February 2017

 Recently I had an invite to the Holocaust Memorial Day at the Harrogate Hebrew Congregation. What a great welcome of ‘Shalom.’

Arriving early I heard all the prayers in Hebrew, hoping I could catch a few phrases I would know (not many, but a couple of words I do recognise!) However, reading from the prayer book, starting at the back, I read the Morning Prayer and actually recognised a lot from our own morning prayer, following a familiar pattern and rigidity

Obviously, we have the similarity that the Old Testament is the Torah, Books of the Pentateuch and Haftarah. Throughout the prayers I was intrigued by the great respect of the knowledge of God. However, losing my place due to my own lack of knowledge of Hebrew! We had readings from the Law and Jeremiah.

In the sermon, Rev. Gerald Harris, said that the Holocaust was terrible in every sense of the word. He reminded us that it wasn’t just against the Jew, but any person that was not party of the Aryan race. It was discrimination at its worst. We still divide ourselves, when there is no real division. He reminded us that we should never forget, but we should also work together that it never happens again…

Prayers continued, with a prayer for the future of all humanity.

We were then given an address by Arek Hersh. He survived 5 concentration camps and told us of his plight once ‘freed’. He continues to speak about his situation. When watching documentaries of Holocaust survivors on television we see the touching way they tell us of their story but when Arek spoke he was there in front of us. It touched more than I can actually tell! He had such vitality and spirit. He was taken from his home at 11, and never saw his parents again, but he spoke of love and compassion when he came to England, even if he went to Lancashire!

We then received further speeches from the Lord Lieutenant, the Mayor and Andrew Jones MP. All said how do we follow that! Simply, you can’t.

The three hours of prayers and speeches passed very quickly. The welcome was so warm and reassuring. The prayers and readings felt so familiar, even in Hebrew. The sermon so inspiring and longing for hope. Arek’s compassion and determination to teach the next generation.

However, when it was time to leave we were told to go quickly. Why was this? Because of security. When I arrived we had police patrolling, a security person at the front and I had to knock to be let in. That truly is not a place of tolerance in society. How very sad. So many times after church are we able to chat at the door, freedom to move around and discuss the weather. Why is it that that congregation doesn’t have the freedom we do? And this happens even today!

 Shabbat Shalom

Steve Gray



Meaningful Service

Saturday 4th February, 8th Shevat saw our 14th Annual Holocaust Service officiated superbly by Rev. Gerald Harris who also delivered a poignant and meaningful sermon.  Arek Hersh,  Holocaust survivor retold his emotional experiences to a silent, visibly moved congregation of a record 150 members, guests and officials, including the Lord Lieutenant, Barry Dodds who spoke passionately about the occasion,  Mayor, Councillor Nick Brown who delivered a superbly prepared speech, much commended by those present and MP Mr. Andrew Jones who further confirmed his full support and that of the Government for Holocaust Memorial Day.  Also in attendance was Lt. Col Strickland and Commanding Officer of the Army Apprentice College and Ms Garrod, Chief of Menwith Hill.  Many more visiting officials attended to show their support. There was unprecedented unified praise for the proceedings by those present.

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The Boss!

The first visit of a current Chief Rabbi since 1925  - 

The highlight of 2016 was unequivocally when we had the privilege and honour of welcoming Chief Rabbi Mirvis for the first time on Sunday 4th December. Chief Rabbi Mirvis left Harrogate Synagogue members, guests and dignitaries captivated and enthralled when his chosen theme was ‘connections.’ He certainly connected with our shul as he promised the community that he will return when the shul celebrates its centenary in 2018, commenting, “I'm coming," to a delighted congregation.

Shabbat UK


Don’t forget, we invite you to join us to celebrate Shabbat UK on Saturday 28th October (Shabbos Cheshvan 8 - Lech Lecha) with the usual enjoyable (not too long) service followed by a beautiful Kiddush afterwards when we can eat, drink and chat. For catering purposes RSVP by 9th October

Service commences at 10.00 am – Alan Jacobs will be officiating.

We look forward to seeing you there.