Our Community

About Us

e are a lively, active, inclusive community of progressive Jews. We welcome everyone, from everywhere around the globe, and we provide varied Shabbat and festival services, formal and informal alike, family services, tots’ services and many social activities. Many people who are seeking to become Jewish choose West London, and our services are easy to follow whatever your background. We are also deeply committed to social action, and run a drop-in for asylum seekers once a month and a night shelter for homeless people once a week, and are exploring more and more ways to work with others in our local community to provide help to the most needy. We work closely with local churches and other communal organisations, and rejoice in our interfaith activities, especially where we can work together on particular projects.

Our goal is to provide an exciting and spiritually nourishing Jewish life for everyone of all ages, from religious services to social action, from community activities to study and learning, from religion school to youth clubs and everything else besides. And we aim to include as many people as we can, young and old alike, in our volunteering within and beyond the community. At West London Synagogue, there really is something for everyone, and we want to inspire, welcome and serve all those who enter our doors.

Rabbi Helen Freeman

Rabbi Helen Freeman was a speech therapist before ordination in 1990. She has been involved in a conversion programme for all that time, welcoming individuals from many backgrounds whose spiritual path brought them to Judaism. She has tutored a number of student rabbis and taught shiur in at Leo Baeck College.

Since coming to West London she has enjoyed teaching adults, not only the conversion class but also those who choose adult bar mitzvah. Rabbi Freeman is a qualified analytical psychologist and is studying for a PhD on the Dead Sea Scrolls. She is chair of a Central London Council of Christians and Jews and a member of the Interfaith clergy group in Marylebone. She cofounded a Jewish Muslim Women’s Group.

She has written chapters for the Women Rabbis Books ‘Hear Our Voice’ and ‘Taking up the Timbrel’ as well as for a book on sermons against atheism, Really Useful Prayers and a chapter on Hugo Gryn in ‘Great Reform Thinkers.’

She set up the cancer support group and co-facilitates the Carers Support Group.

She shares her home with her lovely husband David, two cats and a cockerpoo dog.

To contact Rabbi Helen, please email helen.freeman@wls.org.uk or contact her PA, Paola Churchill on 020 7535 0255 or email paola.churchill@wls.org.uk.

Rabbi David Mitchell

Ordained in July 2009, he joined WLS in November 2011 from his previous pulpit at Radlett and Bushey Reform  Synagogue where he served as their Associate Rabbi and Director of Education. Rabbi David is passionate about finding ways to make each person feel at home in the Jewish world. He was raised in a Modern Orthodox home and attended Orthodox Jewish day schools. It was there that he discovered a true love for Judaism. Although he often questioned as a teenager, it was only during his time as an undergraduate at St Peter’s College, Oxford University that he was first exposed to Progressive Judaism and to some inspirational Reform Rabbis. It didn’t take him long to realise that he had found his true spiritual home and just a few years later David revisited his childhood dream of becoming a Rabbi. He applied to the Rabbinic training programme at Leo Baeck College where he had previously studied for his MA in Jewish Education. As part of his Rabbinic studies, David undertook both a BA and an MA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He was awarded a distinction for his Rabbinic dissertation exploring the theme of sexual violence against men in the Book of Genesis. Since then David has continued his research and spends some of his spare time writing up a PhD in Biblical Criticism.  A Patron of Save the Congo, he is committed to equality activism and LGBT Interfaith Dialogue. David lives in North London with his life-partner Ian.

To contact Rabbi David, please email david.mitchell@wls.org.uk

Rabbi Neil Janes

Rabbi Neil Janes is Executive Director of the Lyons Learning Project (www.lyonslearning.org.uk) and member of the rabbinic team of West London Synagogue. His main responsibilities at the Synagogue are as rabbinic lead on Education and Social Action. He studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and has also lived in Haifa with his family whilst studying at Haifa University. He was the rabbi of Finchley Progressive Synagogue and the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St Johns Wood. He is researching for a PhD studying rabbinic literature and its representations of identity and culture. Neil is a faculty member of the Leo Baeck College teaching Talmud and Midrash and is also adjunct faculty of Hebrew College, Boston where he teaches a module on teaching rabbinic literature. In addition to his MA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Neil also has a BA in Psychology and Education from Cardiff University.

Neil is passionate about creating community based educational opportunities that are transformative. His love of rabbinic literature and recognising our reading of those texts as authentic voices that form and reform our Judaism today are central to his rabbinate. Neil’s work as Executive Director of the Lyons Learning Project will create a space for serious Jewish learning to deepen our conversations about Jewish life, in particular through the Melton Course.

He relaxes through gardening and learns most about the wonder of life from his wife and two daughters, who are a continual source of inspiration. Neil blogs regularly at rabbijanes.wordpress.com and can be followed on twitter @rabbineiljanes.

To contact Rabbi Neil please email neil.janes@wls.org.uk

Daily and Shabbat Services

WEEKLY SERVICES

Friday: Erev Shabbat Service at 6.00pm
Saturday: Shabbat Morning Service at 11.00am

MONTHLY SERVICES

Shabbat Shira
On the first and third Friday evening of the month.
This is a less formal version of the Friday evening service. The rabbi is accompanied by a group of musicians. “Shira” means singing and the emphasis is on a vibrant, participatory service with lots of singing and modern music. There is no sermon.

ShabbaTots Service
Saturday mornings during term time, from 10.30am.
Our Shabbat morning services are informal and fun, with English and Hebrew songs, accompanied by guitar and ukulele, and percussion instruments for children to join in. The Rabbis join us for Kiddush.

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