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The Night Shelter runs every Saturday night from October to May, for fifteen local homeless people.
We provide a healthy home cooked meal, good company, and a warm place to stay, whilst our guests participate on a programme with the West London Day Centre to get them back into housing.
Our guests are from all walks of life – some are British people who have hit a run of bad luck, others are asylum seekers and refugees for whom this project is their only lifeline. We always have a great atmosphere, playing games and talking. We also make and share excellent food.
To volunteer for this initiative, please contact Nic Schlagman, Head of Social Action, 020 7535 0273.
There are opportunities to join our team in a number of different ways, providing services on and throughout the night, including:
Set-up and hosting (3 volunteers): Arriving at 6pm to meet the coordinator and set up the space, including blowing up the air beds, and preparing the dining area; greeting the guests, and hosting them when we open the doors at 7.30pm; eating with the guests, and helping sort out any small needs. This shift finishes at around 10pm. Cooking (3 volunteers): One lead cook prepares the menu, and a team prepares a meal for around 25 people and cleans up afterwards. The team arrives at 5pm, and washing up is normally over by 10pm. There is less interaction with the guests, although you all eat together. There is also the option to sign up to be a lead cook. We have a healthy budget for food, and produce a delicious meal each week. No serious catering experience needed, as training and support can be given. Overnight (1-2 volunteers): Arriving at 9.30pm to spend the night at the shelter. Night volunteers sleep in a separate room, and we have two WLS security staff on reception all night. The guests go to sleep almost immediately after dinner. We wake up at 6.15am to waken our guests, prepare a small breakfast, and send the guests on their way at 7.30am, following which we do a quick clean up. Breakfast (1 volunteer): Arrive at 6.15am to waken guests, prepare a small breakfast, and send the guests on their way at 7.30am, then do a quick clean up.
Each weekend we hold both Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services and Saturday morning Shabbat Shacharit services.
On all Fridays we have a traditional Reform choral service at 6pm, with a sermon and beautiful music to help close the working week and enter Shabbat.
On the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month we also have an informal and uplifting band-led Shira service, at 7.15pm. “Shira” means singing and the emphasis is on a vibrant, participatory service with lots of singing and modern music.
On the 2nd Friday of each month, the 6pm service becomes a Combo service, bringing together our choir, our Director of Music, our Community Musician, and the Shira band, to create an energetic and participative communal prayer-experience. Often this Combo service will be followed by a community dinner (for which prebooking is preferred).
On Saturdays we have a weekly Shacharit Service at 11.00am. The Torah is read, and there is usually a sermon. Many members choose to mark their lifecycle moments at these services, whether this is a bar/bat mitzvah, baby blessing, pre-marriage celebration or significant birthday/anniversary. Morning services are preceded by coffee and cake from 10.30am. At the conclusion of every service there is a kiddush (blessing with wine, and light reception).
On Saturdays there is also a children’s service (Shabbatots) commencing 10.30am.
On Wednesdays during term-time there are evening Ma’ariv prayers at 6.30pm. Prayers can be arranged on other days for those bereaved who wish to mark their loss through Shiva at the synagogue.
West London Synagogue has been conducting weddings since 1840. As a modern, progressive synagogue, we aim to balance Jewish tradition with a contemporary approach.
Jewish - Jewish WeddingsThe law in the UK enables us to officiate at a legally-recognised wedding for two people who are of the Jewish faith and are eligible for synagogue membership. In fact, we can only officiate at legally-recognised weddings for synagogue members, so part of your wedding preparation is to take out membership of the congregation. Our rabbis will listen to your preferences without judgement, and will either be able to help, or will know a rabbi who can. We can create bespoke wedding ceremonies. Please contact us for an informal discussion [contact details for Jenny Browning]. Mixed-Faith CelebrationsWest London Synagogue has been at the forefront in creating authentic and meaningful wedding celebrations for couples where one partner is non-Jewish. Our rabbis are well experienced in officiating at mixed faith religious celebrations. We welcome the person you love into our diverse congregation. Within the synagogue site, the Stern Hall is licensed for civil weddings, conducted by Westminster Register Office. Many couples then choose to move their guests into our historic Sanctuary for a bespoke Jewish blessing. In the lead up to getting engaged and planning a wedding, some dual heritage couples will consider the possibility of the non-Jewish partner becoming Jewish. Whilst this is never an expectation, if you would like more information about this please contact [who?]. Same-Sex CouplesWest London Synagogue may be the most welcoming and inclusive of all congregations in the UK. Long before same-sex marriage became legal, we conducted wedding blessings for same-sex couples. Our rabbis are well experienced in same-sex weddings and blessings, and no matter whether your spouse-to-be is Jewish, non-gender-binary, or from overseas, please do ask us tohelp. Auspices Weddings in our Sanctuary (using your own rabbi)As one of the most beautiful religious buildings in London, our Sanctuary is a sought-after wedding venue for members of other communities. If you belong to another Reform, Liberal or Masorti congregation, either in the UK or overseas, and would like to enquire about hiring our Sanctuary for your chuppah (Jewish wedding) using your own rabbi, please contact Micky Nathanson, Ritual Coordinator. Getting Married Overseas (by one of our rabbis)If you have set your sights on a destination wedding, then please get in touch with one of our rabbis to discuss their availability to officiate. In recent years we have officiated at weddings all over the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Naturally there will be a fee for this, but also you should consider the need to treat your civil marriage in the UK separately from your religious wedding blessing and celebration at your international destination. If you are a non-member who wants to get married in continental Europe and would like us to help you find a rabbi to officiate, please contact Micky Nathanson, Ritual Coordinator. Getting Married by Another Congregation?If you are a West London Synagogue member and are getting married under the auspices of another congregation, our community would still love to add something to your celebrations. One option could be to have a blessing during one of the Shabbat services before the date of your wedding. It doesn’t matter if your spouse-to-be is Orthodox or non-Jewish, we want to rejoice with you at this happiest of times. Please contact [----] Preparing for your wedding:
Irrespective of whether we officiate at your wedding, our rabbis are here to help in the following ways:
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This is a family friendly sing-a-long and service for the under fives.
Held in the delightful first floor Children’s Synagogue within WLS, it is run by Dahlia Sherrington with English and Hebrew songs, accompanied by guitar and with percussion instruments for children. A Rabbi is there each week at the start to greet you, and the event concludes with Kiddush.
A service is held every Shabbat, during term time (please check events for exact dates) from 10.30am - 12.00pm (note that this starts 30 minutes before the main service).
ShabbaTots special services are held to celebrate Festivals.
We are running a day activity camp, during the longer school holidays, for children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
This is a joint project with Al Manaar Mosque in Westbourne Park, which has been at the forefront of support efforts for the affected families. We recruit a team of 15-20 experienced youth leaders to deliver a four-day long activity camp based at Al Manaar, and this includes trips to local attractions.
To get involved please contact Nic Schlagman, Head of Social Action, on 020 7535 0270.
All services over the High Holy Days are now contained within our own building. There is a range of traditional and more innovative services from which to choose (the traditional Reform service taking place in our historic Sanctuary), with entry by ticket.
If you are a synagogue member, you will receive your High Holy Day programme and tickets around 8 weeks before the Jewish New Year. If you would like to attend as a non member (a guest of a member, or a visitor to London over the holidays, or a member of another Reform or Liberal synagogue), we will do our best to find you a place to pray with us - please contact our High Holy Day Office on 020 7535 0251. During the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when spiritual introspection is customary, the Synagogue also provides stimulating educational sessions and lively cultural events. All main services are streamed online for those who cannot attend in person.
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Interfaith partnership with St. Paul’s Church in Marylebone, serving the local community meals.
FoodCycle is an organisation that helps volunteers collect surplus food from supermarkets, then uses it to cook free community meals to combat food poverty and social isolation in a local area. We serve community meals weekly on a Wednesday afternoon and evening.
To get involved please contact Nic Schlagman, Head of Social Action, on 020 7535 0270.
We create meaningful and engaging festival celebrations for all ages.
Evening festival service are usually held at 6.00pm and morning services at 11.00am, preceded by coffee and cake from 10.30am. At the end of every festival service there is a kiddush (blessing over wine).
Sukkot: After the solemnity of the High Holy Days, we come together to build and decorate a communal sukkah (tabernacle). Each year we have a theme, and at an Open House service we welcome people of all faiths and none into the sukkah.
Simchat Torah: At the end of the torah reading year, the torah scrolls are danced around the synagogue to joyous klezmer music. Congregants help unwind one scroll from one end of the Sanctuary to the other. The rabbis circumnavigate this scroll, reliving the journey from Genesis to Deuteronomy. A celebratory supper follows the evening service. The next morning the wardens at the end of their term of office are honoured.
Chanukah: The communal chanukkiah dates back to 1849, and we light it each night of Chanukah to mark the miracle of the light and the hope of good triumphing over evil. Each night of Chanukah is dedicated to a different constituent group of the community. There may be a rabbis’ drinks reception, a celebratory intergenerational Shabbat Chanukah service, a children’s doughnut party, area group meetings all over London where we light the chanukkiah in members’ homes, a young adults event, a tea party for our senior members....
Purim: For families there is a Purim carnival, and for all we have a spirited reading of the Megillah (Esther), followed by a themed Spiel (show) performed by rabbis and wardens in fabulous costumes, and an ‘after party’.
Pesach: Several seders are offered – a first night communal seder for all, which is joyous, thoughtful and interactive; a second night Young Adults (YAD) seder; and often a second night Interfaith seder at which members of other faith groups join our own members. There is a traditional Pesach morning service. And at the conclusion of the festival, we follow the Moroccan-Jewish tradition of holding a Mimouna, a delicious community supper of Middle Eastern leavened dishes.
Shavuot: The evening of Shavuot starts with an uplifting service, followed by a supper and then a ‘Shavuaton’ - a full night of inspiring study sessions. We are joined by St John’s Wood’s Liberal Jewish Synagogue and run an educational programme from dusk to dawn. We welcome the first rays of morning with a roof-top sunrise service. The traditional 11am service commences with the community’s children dancing on rose petals in the Sanctuary, to release their perfume.
Feeding Folk is an interfaith project that delivers meals to London’s street homeless on two Sundays a month.
Feeding Folk was set up by a group of Muslim young adults in one of their member’s kitchens. Each month we prepare 150-200 warm and healthy meals here at the synagogue, before packing them to deliver to Victoria, Camden, Marble Arch, and across London.
To get involved please contact Nic Schlagman, Head of Social Action on 020 7535 0270.