After over four years of homelessness, Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue is coming home! How wonderful it will be to be able to settle back into our own abode after 50 months living in rented accommodation. We have been so fortunate to have been able to meet at Ralli Hall on Shabbat, and to have had a temporary office/meeting place. But, as the saying goes, ‘there’s no place like home.’
Of course, our home is not as it was before we left. There is no going back; our return to 6 Lansdowne Road represents a new beginning. We will make a new home in a new building, designed to meet our needs today and in the years to come; a building encompassing spaces of different sizes that can be used flexibly. And so, devoid of fixed seating and a bimah, the fully accessible Sanctuary on the ground floor, with its stunning, inspiring new Ark, can also be used as a large meeting hall for celebrations, meetings, social and cultural activities. And then, upstairs, another, smaller social area – for gatherings, children’s activities, adult education, film screenings – alongside a foyer, an office, the library, two education rooms and a small pastoral room. Who would have thought so much could be squeezed out of the rectangular plot that was the original synagogue building! And that’s not all: the downstairs kitchen and ‘dumb-waiter’ make it possible for food to be served on both floors. Most important, with the inclusion of a lift, everyone can benefit from all the facilities that the building has to offer.
Naturally, those who have been members for many years will miss aspects of the old synagogue. It is for this reason that important elements of the old have been integrated into the new, including, the ner tamid that now hangs in front of the new Ark, the stained-glass windows that adorn the large stairwell, the beautiful mosaics that will continue to inspire, and Tree of Life that remains the focus of remembrance of those who have gone before us. Needless to say, no one will miss the inefficient heating system, the ever-leaking roof, and the intermittent floods…
On Shabbat Chanukkah we will hold our first service and a day of celebration – please see the programme for details of all the activities that will be on offer. As we recall the Maccabees, who reclaimed and rededicated the Temple in 164 BCE, making it the home of the Jewish people once again, we will reclaim the building as our old/new home, and rededicate our synagogue. But the differences between then and now are as important as the similarities: Unlike, the Temple that once stood in Jerusalem, a synagogue, based on a Greek word that is a translation for the Hebrew, k’hillah, meaning, ‘assembly’, is not a place. A synagogue is a congregation that gathers together for the sacred purposes of study, prayer, mutual support and ethical action. As we reclaim 6 Lansdowne Road may we rededicate our vibrant and diverse community to the renewal of Jewish life. Chanukkah Samei’ach!