120 people were honoured to welcome Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis not in person but on historic Skype link, his visit being postponed because of the inclement weather.
Celebrating 111 years of its history and praising Rabbi Bar and the lay leadership, the Chief Rabbi said. “ SWHC is a symbol of what a Jewish Community is about; it has a treasured past and SWHC is one of the UK`s outstanding communities, also benefiting from the Chassidim families moving into the town, enriching the Community, a welcome phenomenon going spectacularly well. ”
The Chief Rabbi recounted an occasion when how in Israel in 1980 where he always davened at the Kotel and where there is always a minyan and learning, just before Purim, it was completely deserted and covered in a white blanket of snow, falling heavily. It was bitterly cold. He said the Kotel is never left alone but that morning there was not a single person in sight on the esplanade and he had the Kotel all to himself. The Chief Rabbi said “I prayed from the depths of my heart, when suddenly I saw somebody coming towards me and I knew I could pass the baton onto someone else.” He said it is the same with Southend and Westcliff, it has succeeded in passing the baton from previous years generations onto future generations, and it will be as successful in the years to come.
Rabbi Bar praised the Chief Rabbi on his humanitarian and Shabbat (UK) projects and that SWHC forefathers had worked so hard because it is one Community. Rabbi Bar also praised the Chassidic families who are moving into the town, the planning of an Eruv in the area, and said that there is incredible interest in young couples wanting to live in Westcliff.
The celebration was also attended by local MP Sir David Amess, who said he will always support the Jewish Community and the State of Israel. Sir David also said, “Southend is being rejuvenated and I am hopeful the Synagogue will have “City status” when Southend becomes a City.
Former Mayor and member, Councillor David Garston recounted how Southend has had six Jewish Mayors, and explained how Southend Borough Council work with the Jewish Community, is a model for the rest of the country getting on with the other faiths in the town. He gave an example and said, “Some years ago, when a mosque in the town suffered a fire the Rabbi at the time was one of the first on the scene offering help.”
The Community wished the Chief Rabbi Mazeltov on the forthcoming marriage of his son taking place soon in Israel and promised to rearrange his visit to Southend and Westcliff.