Ex­eter is on Board for re­gional show­piece

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN

HOST­ING THE Board of Deputies’ an­nual re­gional weekend was one of the biggest events in the 254-year his­tory of the Ex­eter community.

More than 60 deputies from across the UK at­tended Shab­bat ser­vices in Ex­eter’s shul. A meet­ing on Sun­day was held in the city’s his­toric Guild­hall.

“People came up and told me they were ut­terly gob­s­macked at how beau­ti­ful our shul is,” said Ex­eter deputy Richard Yof­fey. “It’s a dream which be­came a re­al­ity and one which has done an aw­ful lot for our community.”

The Board se­lects a dif­fer­ent re­gional des­ti­na­tion for a meet­ing each year and Ex­eter is the small­est community cho­sen.

With more than 100 mem­bers, Ex­eter at­tracts sup­port from ar­eas in­clud­ing Taun­ton, Dart­mouth and Mr Yof­fey’s home town of Ot­tery St Mary.

“The community is grow­ing,” he re­ported. “We have just restarted cheder to cater for the young fam­i­lies who have joined the shul.

“We are a vi­brant and cre­ative bunch who make sure we cater for all as­pects of Jewish life and faith.” Its im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of prayer books cover the Jewish reli­gious spec­trum. Sun­day’s meet­ing was ad­dressed by Ex­eter Univer­sity Vice-Chan­cel­lor Sir Steve Smith and among work­shop lead­ers was the univer­sity’s Dr Siam Bhayro, a world author­ity on an­cient Ara­maic bowls.

An Ex­eter stu­dent, Mur­ray Brown, had ad­dressed guests on Shab­bat morn­ing and the pro­gramme also in­cor­po­rated a walk­ing tour of his­toric Ex­eter and a visit to the Bull Meadow ceme­tery. One of the old­est in the UK, it is in need of fund­ing for ren­o­va­tion.

Board pres­i­dent Jonathan Arkush said: “We have had the most out­stand­ing Shab­bat in Ex­eter. We have been given the most warm and gen­er­ous hos­pi­tal­ity by the Ex­eter Jewish community. It was an hon­our for us to pack out a shul which was opened in 1763.

“All too of­ten I hear people say the Board is a Lon­don club. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. The Board is ab­so­lutely rel­e­vant to ev­ery Jew in this coun­try wher­ever they may live and how­ever far they are from the ma­jor pop­u­la­tion cen­tres.”

Richard Yof­fey

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