Whet­stone shul finds home



WHEN AC­COUN­TANT James Ward stum­bled across the New Whet­stone Syn­a­gogue three years ago, the Ma­sorti-af­fil­i­ated con­gre­ga­tion was strug­gling to fill a minyan and meet­ing in a “dusty run down old church hall”.

But he felt an im­me­di­ate con­nec­tion, given that its lay leader El­lis Slater had taught him his bar­mitz­vah.

The Wards be­came reg­u­lar con­gre­gants and their son Ariel was bar­mitz­vah there last year, hav­ing also been coached by Mr Slater.

Now serv­ing as the shul’s vol­un­tary ad­min­is­tra­tor, Mr Ward, 44, has helped se­cure the com­mu­nity a per­ma­nent home at the nearby Alma Pri­mary School and hopes the reg­u­lar lo­ca­tion will bring in new mem­bers, start­ing on Rosh Hashanah.

“The build­ing is brand new,” he ex­plained. “It’s light, bright and airy and we have got use of the play­ground and space for chil­dren’s ser­vices, too.”

Mr Slater, 74, said: “We have a for­mal set­ting but it’s very in­for­mal. Our shul re­freshes the parts that other shuls can­not reach.”

The wel­come mes­sage on seats reads: “Whether you’re tz­itzit in or tz­itzit out; you daven qui­etly, or shokel and shout... at NWS there’s a wel­come for all.”

There is lit­tle to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the ser­vice from that of a United syn­a­gogue. But the lead­ers say the at­mos­phere is more relaxed. Men and women sit on dif­fer­ent sides of the shul but there is no phys­i­cal bar­rier be­tween them. Nor is there a dress code.

“Women don’t have to wear hats and can wear trousers if they like,” Mr Ward said.

“And men can wear kilts, as I have done be­fore,” added Mr Slater, in a nod to his Glas­gow ori­gins.

The Wards with El­lis Slater

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