Eighteen members of the branch met up at Aldgate station and were led by our organiser, Janet Wallace, to nearby Bevis Marks Synagogue. The gentlemen of the party were issued with kippahs (skull caps) and everyone was shown into the main hall where they were welcomed by the chief Rabbi. He explained that the synagogue was the oldest in London having been built in the late part of the seventeenth century. The furniture pews and benches, made of solid English oak, date back to the original opening and show no sign of wear or tear.
The Rabbi then ran through the history of Jews in England including a period of 300 years when they were exiled. This period came to an end during the time of Oliver Cromwell, since when they have flourished. There are now approximately 300,000 living in the country with the majority in London and the Home Counties.
After a most informative visit – a first for most of our party – Janet took us to a branch of Balls Brothers for a splendid lunch!