When Kol Nidrei really was Kol Nidrei

September the something, nineteen seventy-something. Early evening. The Main Shul, Hendon United Synagogue, Raleigh Close.

Males are streaming in through all six double oak doors. Warm handshakes and “Happy New Years” (none of that pretentious “Gmar, etc” business in them days) are liberally exchanged as they make their way down the carpeted aisles. The din is uniquely Jewish.

The shul is so full that my father has to take his proper seat (not, as every Shabbos morning, next to my grandfather on the other side of the synagogue). I squeeze between him and the portly, almost Dickensian, Mr. Baker, who is again (like last year) not best pleased. I smile up at him angelically. For some odd reason, this side of the shul feels distinctly less religious than the other.

Moshe Steinhart, Raleigh Close’s legendary shammes, is even more excitable than usual. Chazan Korn on the bimah – cool as an Israeli (if German born) cucumber, Gower to Steinhart’s Randall – is making final adjustments to his tallis and page markings with the minimum of fuss with which England’s number three takes his guard.

The atmosphere is electric. The air of expectation palpable. Twice-a-Year (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) Brigade members get that at QPR or Tottenham every other Saturday, but I half expect the roof to open, the sound of heavenly trumpets, and a booming “Welcome My Hendon Children!”

Chazan Korn looks up at Reverend Hardman, waiting for our umpire’s nod.

“Kol Ni-der-ei-ei . . .”

Even if you didn’t spot them park up (round the corner of course), members of the Twice-a-Year Brigade are easily distinguishable from shul regulars as a result of one or more of the following:

  • They are markedly more dapper in appearance, sporting smarter suits, pocket square handkerchiefs, louder ties, leather shoes, and more poncey-looking sons.
  • Their kappels are larger and shinier, with year-long folds across their radii, while their talleisim are made from cheap cotton rather than wool. They are clearly comfortable in neither, and they pat the former non-stop with a nervous up-and-down movement.
  • With one hand on said kappel, and without even a hint of self-consciousness, they continually gaze up at the Ladies Gallery and make demonstrative gestures to their other halves.
  • A sizeable minority (those with neighbours who believe they are being kinder by not saying anything) hold their machzorim upside down throughout the entire three hours.

But, like Stan Bowles at Loftus Road (though no one at White Hart Lane in the seventies), Twice-a-Year Brigade members bring a certain glamour to proceedings. We are, indeed, glad to have them back in our bosom.

Talking of bosom . . . the Ladies Gallery is a lot more appealing from this side than the other: Am I just bored with the usual Shabbos morning fare? Or is the Twice-a-Year Brigade’s Female Regiment really more exotic than the more religious and modestly attired regulars? I am not even ten years old.

Some 45 minutes in, Reverend Hardman makes his Kol Nidrei Appeal, during which we kids excitedly insert the plastic tags of cards of congregants who haven’t turned up into the £1,000 hole.

Miming (again unabashed) of “Meet you by the car” increases exponentially as the service draws closer to Adon Olam, at which point seemingly every Hebrew in Hendon – including poor cousins from the adjacent (and scandalously named) “Overflow” service – is gathered in the synagogue’s front courtyard, which witnesses more hugging, kissing and gossip than your average Saturday night at Busby’s (discotheque).

The Twice-a-Year Brigade has long since ridden out of Raleigh Close (“the Overflow” is now a luxury rather than a necessity, catering – ironically, as it was once heavily Twice-a-Year – to the more particular requirements of more fundamentalist regulars). Whether its members have gone Reform, or just gone, I don’t know. But, having crept to the right over the past three decades (like all United Synagogues?), it would, most likely, no longer be to their taste. And that is sad, because, once, Raleigh Close was Hendon Jewry.

The United Synagogue, however, was always a rather schizophrenic institution: on the one hand, by definition, Orthodox; on the other, having to cater to the peculiar, changing habits and demands of England’s Jews, as they became rather too used to the good life and everything that it has to offer (including at 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon).

The paradoxes that the United Synagogue has always been forced to accommodate expressed themselves most clearly to me, some years ago, following the appointment of a new Rabbi – and a wonderful one at that – at Raleigh Close . . .

“What do you think of him?” I enquired of my neighbour, an old style, stick-in-the-mud United Synagogue member if ever there was one. I should have known better. It was like asking W.G. Grace what he makes of Twenty20.

“Too frum,” he kvetched, with a disapproving grimace and shake of the head.

“Too frum?!” I mimicked, unable to stifle my mirth. “That’s like saying a lawyer is too law-abiding! He’s a Rabbi!”

Far more Israelis ride their bicycles on Yom Kippur than attend synagogue. The custom has taken hold, ironically, because not even the most secular of them would dream of taking out his car. Even parked round the corner, however, Twice-a-Year Brigade Anglo-Jews had a far better idea about, and feel for, Yom Kippur.

On Friday evening, I will attend the Kol Nidrei service at Allenby Street’s Great Synagogue (in the 1930s choir of which a teenage refugee from Germany became lead soloist: that teenager was the aforementioned Moshe Korn, Raleigh Close’s future Chazan). I will sit alongside another former United Synagoguer (Cockfosters & North Southgate), and – clutching our tan, crocodile skin Routledge machzorim – we will reminisce about when Kol Nidrei really was Kol Nidrei . . .

Wishing all readers of melchett mike a very happy and healthy New Year, and “well over the fast.”

[For further rose-tinted reminiscence about our childhood home, see Hendon: Just Nostalgic Illusion? and Only the Shammes: Moshe Steinhart z”l, 1925-2013.]

94 responses to “When Kol Nidrei really was Kol Nidrei

  1. “Cockfosters & North Southgate” .. better known as ‘Old Farm Avenue’

  2. What do you mean, no glamour at White Hart Lane in 70’s? We had Alan Mullerry, Alan Gilzean, Pat Jennings and Cyril Knowles in the early to mid 70’s, with Glen Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa in the late 7o’s…My eyes have seen the glory
    …and a GCT to you too 🙂

  3. Very nice article Mike.

    That sense of drama, excitement, and energy still exists in many Reform synagogues today.

    While our shabbat services have become more informal, highly participatory, and less staged, our high holiday services are characterized by huge choirs, instrumental accompaniment, and evocative sermonizing-all in the space of 90 minutes!

  4. mitchell taylor

    i would also add my nostalgic thoughts and happy memories at raleigh close. nothing here in israel comes close to the kol nidrei at raleigh close.
    wishing you all in hendon a “good yomtov” to us “gemar hatimah tova” and chag bicycle samaech!

  5. Mike, oh the memories…note nothing in your commentary about the childrens or youth services and the legendary Neilah service (took about 10 minutes!) by Jeffrey Blumenthal. I too miss those long gone days but at least have a little bit of Hendon nostalgia by sitting next to another hendonite in shul in the very non hendon like Tel Mond !!

    On a recent visit to Hendon I was pleased to note that the mens toilets were in exactly the same state that we all left them some 30 years ago and I had thought that those black toilet seats were banned by the EU due to possible “asbestosis”…but hey never let it be said that Hendon United ever let a little thing like that stop them………

    Finally, the thing I miss the most was that overpowering smell of Angelos furniture polish as you entered the shul, surely only sprayed for effect, as I doubt the “pews” were actually ever cleaned but in any event a smell we do not get in our little village shul.

  6. Thanks Mike for another enjoyable and nostalgic read. Even though things aren’t quite the same now as you describe, the atmosphere on Kol Nidre night at RC still would take some beating and I’m very much looking forward to this coming Friday night.

    The part in brackets about the overflow is not strictly accurate – basically the other services that run elsewhere on the “campus” for RH & YK now merely are those that currently exist weekly every shabbat. The view (partic expressed when what follows was not the case) was that paying members were entitled to expect the services that they attended all year to be there for them on RH & YK too.

    You home in on a point I’ve often made – that effectively the US falls between 2 stools in that it’s not religious enough for the really orthodox because of all the twice a year types and yet it’s too religious for those twice a year types because of the more prominent orthodox element present. There’s now basically far less “middle ground” in the community as a whole and RC in partic has certainly moved to the right and the twice a year types are indeed now a rare species in RC.

    Happy New Year and well over – won’t risk G’mar……………!! On yer bike!!

    PS Ivan, Blumenfeld not Blumenthal you wretched creature!!

  7. its the age……..Blumberg !! ( as you know I am not even an Accountant or indeed understand accounts !)

  8. Hoddle and Ardiles only came to the fore in the very late seventies, Moshe . . and when you have to use the goalkeeper (not to mention one with stupid hair) to prove your team’s glamour, it does undermine the argument somewhat!

    Mark, love the way you never miss a chance to plug Reform . . . though you are probably wasting your time with this lot.

    And did no one teach the Taylor brothers, mitchell and IVAN, about capitalisation? Which school did they go to? 😉 And, Ivan, you “note nothing” about the Childrens or Youth Services . . . because the post isn’t bloody about them!

  9. Fair point …… I will now crawl back under the stone from whence I cAmE……
    ps Spelling and Grammer is unimportant where I live nor indeed in Hasmo.

  10. Sheffield United Hebrew Congregation was the place to be in my childhood: Wilson Road Beit HaMidrash, Saturday morning and Bramall Lane for the Blades – Sheffield United in the afternoon, hoping that Yom Kippur would not fall on a Saturday when we really couldn’t make it out of shul in the morning for football in the afternoon. We will remember – yizkor.

  11. Lovely article, Mike.

    I have such fond memories of Kol Nidre at Raleigh Close, especially the ultra-thin, very hip “one night only” edition of the Routledge and Kagan Paul (full regal title!) mach-zah. Also reminds me of the announcements of page numbers at the youth service:

    “Aleinu will be found on page 212 in the Birnbaum, 1423 in the Artscroll and on page 17 in the Routledge.” Who’d have thought that Routledge would be the inventors of metadata.

    I also remember that Dad (who used to sit on the other side of the aisle, just past Alan Portnoi) used to move to his more pukka seat near the front, just behind Lance Charkham and a few rows in front of the tremendously understated Anthony Julius. It was all very pomp and circumstance.

    I also have very fond memories of the Youth Service in the Sol Cohen Hall, before the Club Med took it over. Joe Tammam was so proud of his “kids” and every year on Rosh HaShana, wherever I am in the world, I always hear Ari Tammam’s voice saying “zamru le’malkeinu zameiru” before blowing the shofar. I learned to “daven from the omud” in that youth service and have done so, I believe, every year since then (coming up on 25 years), but my first Kol Nidre as a baal tefilla was only 3 years ago, and it was frightening.

    There really was something magical about Raleigh Close on the High Holydays, especially the welcome break that “doing security” gave you. When we lived in Bet Shemesh, I used to reminisce with Marc (Reiss) and Shimmy (Kreditor) about “yontiff”. Looking back, we were very fortunate to be a part of that community.

    Always so great to read your posts, Mike. Keep well, enjoy Tel Aviv and sing an extra-hearty “Om’nam Kane” for me!

    Best, Daniel

  12. Dear Mike

    My most vivid memories are the youth service with Jeffrey Blumenfeld doing the whole of KN, Musaf and neilah and never seeming to flag. You and Marc Reiss standing together with Ivan, Alex P and the Tammam brothers under the watchful eye of their father. Alex blowing shofar – one year even in the main Shul when the Rabbi’s went dry. And the long drawn out veimmm uru Omen and hearty schkoiach after the last shofar blow in neilah. Now I daven in the New Hendon Beis Hamedrash with an inspirational Dayan but remember the happy times at RC particularly the back row of the Main Shul where my father (recently deceased), your father and Stanley Reiss all congregated together.

    Have a happy 5771 – well over the fast – and find a good woman to take the place of the dogs


  13. clearly at great portland street the stakes were higher…I’m pretty sure we kids were putting the strings in the 10,000 pound hole!!!!

    and the Twice-a-Year Brigade ladies hats were a preview for ascot

    but most i remember the packet of chocolate buttons i kept in my pocket from kol nidre to neila & that i opened after the shofer blow and were a melted mush that i licked off the packet…..rabbis daughters!!!! and the Twice-a-Year Brigade kids had non kosher jaffa cakes in their pockets…….

    when i made aliya my dad z”l asked me why we had all left (being the last of 4 kids to make aliya)….I bemusedly asked him if he didnt think we had listened to his fiery zionist speeches every kol nidre night…………

  14. Wonderful post, Mike, even though to me, as a Munks davener, it is mainly of anthropological interest. We didn’t really have twice (or thrice?) a year attenders, but it was interesting to see around us so many Hasmo teachers asking for forgiveness, eg: Albert Meyer, DJ, Steven Posen (no red shirt on Rosh Hashana!} Jonny Denham, Murray Schwalbe (now there was a sadist!), and wondering whether they were giving any thought to their behaviour towards us pupils throughout the year.
    My wife, however, was a regular shulgoer at Walm Lane US, and says your post really strikes a chord. At Walm Lane she recalls that some ladies turned up usually for Kol Nidrei and Neila [mostly only for those tefillot (known as “services” in those days]) in mink coats. Does that still happen today or is it no longer PC? One woman who turned up for Musaph on YK famously told her frummer neighbour that after that first cup of tea in the morning she fasted wonderfully. Ah, memories…..
    For readers in Israel, please note that if you’re looking for an English style davening you’re invited to Mekor Chaim shul in Petach Tikva, where you’ll hear a lot of the tunes you’re used to from Blighty, eg: Omnom Keyn, Ki Anu Amecha, Yigdal, Adon Olam and many others. Gmar Chatima Tova and well over the fast!

  15. Mike – How wonderfully nostalgic!

    Let me share a thoughtful piece on Kol Nidrei,written by my cantor (in a Conservative shul).

    Song Power — Hazzan Samuel Rosenbaum © 1982

    The melody of Kol Nidre became, over the ages, the best known and most moving of all the melodies of the Ashkenazic synagogue. Somehow it has the power to reach and to move even the most disinterested peripheral Jew. If one needed additional testimony that words alone, no matter how elegant, are not enough for a Jew at prayer, he need only step into a synagogue on Kol Nidre eve, the holiest night of the year.

    Empty and deserted much of the rest of the year it is now packed to overflowing. Impending judgment hangs suspended, mist-like, in the air. All wait for Kol Nidre. And then the Ark is opened, the holy Scrolls brought forth and the Hazzan begins to chant Kol Nidre.

    The notes shine like stars. In them you hear the heartbreak and the misery of the Jewish people; the pain and the anguish of the bitter centuries. Your soul quickens and you sway in response as if pulled by some unseen string. For an instant, the man in front of you is your grandfather, wrapped in his white kittle, prayerbook moist with his tears. He, too, is swaying. He to your tempo and you to his. You blink and it is over. You are back in the present. Unconsciously you touch the pages of your own prayerbook and they, too, are moist. With those tears?

    You glance at the words of Kol Nidre, enigmas in their Aramaic. So you look to the facing page, to the translation, and you are shocked. There is no poetry, no prayer, no majesty. Merely a dry-as-dust ancient formula; a blanket, legalistic release from unfulfilled promises.

    And then you understand the power of a song.

    G’mar chatimah tovah!

  16. While we’re on the subject of the Yomim Noraim ( literally Days of Awe, for those non yeshiva stream boys ) I thought I’d mention the chazzan and choir that peforms two beautiful pieces on the both nights of Rosh Hashonoh, namely Ahavas Olam and Hashkiveinu.
    Moshe Korn a’h was the king when it came to leading the service and together with choirmaster Lionel Leigh a’h these two pieces brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat year after year. Even now, when I hear these two pieces of cantorial music, I am transported back to a bygone age, the RC of the 70’s, so well described by MM.
    Chazzan J.Murgraff ( aka harry Secombe ) and choirmaster Alan ( fluff ) Freedman are there now and have taken over their mantle, doing a fine job, though its not the same. Perhaps I just want to be 12 again 🙂

    and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of:

    ‘Gmar V’chasimah Tovah’ to you all !!


    Graham Summers.

  17. Hilarious post Mike, as ever. I really miss the US tunes on KolNidrei eve…
    Steve – do you remember Reverend Brysh from Sheffield?

  18. My favourite part of the Yom Kippur service was always Be’rosh Hashonoh (just after Unesaneh Tokef) when Chazans Korn and, later, Neumann would sing “who will live and who will die, etc,” with lots of “oy, oy, oy-ing,” and with the choir doing that soft beat thing in the background. Made yer think . . .

    Growing up in the United Synagogue also made me think that it was totally fine, even normal, for adults to go home for a snooze during Musaf and come back for Ne’ilah . . . as if Mincha was purely optional! My father used to leave religiously (perhaps not the correct word!) after Unesaneh Tokef.

    And, seeing as this has developed into a wider reminiscence about Raleigh Close, the memories are endless: Sliding down the iron railings at the front of the Community Centre, with teenage Twice-a-Yearers always seeming to be up to dodgy stuff round the back on the High Holies . . . The little park where we played at the back of the shul, constantly on the lookout for local estate “yobs” . . . And, of course, Angelo – who, for years, I was convinced was “Odd Job” from Goldfinger – with that bone-breaking handshake and humongous bunch of keys.

    So, Jeremy Rees now encourages me to “find a good woman to take the place of the dogs” . . . when he always used to encourage me to find lots of them! You see, I remember a time when Dr Jeremy was a maverick (and even used to join me at OMD concerts). Oh, the dangers of religion . . . 😉

    Anyway, what about an All-Time Top Ten Raleigh Close Totty?! Graham Summers has already stated his predilection for a certain Alison Barnett. Any other takers? (I, naturally, will have to remain neutral.)

  19. Avram Berniger

    A really nostalgic and well written post, Mike. The best part of Kol Nidrei in R.C. was the traditional all round the grounds hide & seek which went from the end of the children’s service until the end of the Main Shul! How many of you remember your parents opening the much coveted letter from the shul telling your father which mitzva he would be getting this year? Coming from a small community where we get one child to open the ark at all the relevant places for each tefilla, the thought of two members accompanied by a warden all lined up like a military parade to open the ark and followed by a circuit of the shul to shake hands with everybody – always brings a smile to my face.
    Gmar Chatima Tova to one and all.

  20. Nice to hear from you, Avram. I think you took the Children’s Service at RC when I was just a wee toddler (I went on to run it myself, together with Jeremy Rees and Richard Herman).

    Another vivid, personal recollection is of bar mitzvahs in Twice-a-Year families . . .

    They would only attend in the run-up to – and, sometimes, only on – the “big day.” The Reverend/Rabbi, in his sermon, would always – as was incumbent on him – try to encourage the boy to continue attending . . . at which point, my grandfather would always turn to his neighbour and whisper, “He’s flogging a dead horse!” (Which, of course, he was!)

  21. Avram Berniger

    The best Twice-a-year-family Bar Mitzva I recall was of a certain family called Eimer who had a seat in the front row next to the bima. They had a son called Christopher and there was speculation for weeks before as to how Reverand Hardman would start his sermon. When it finally came he said ”My dear Bar Mitzva boy” and you could hear the sighs from every corner of the shul!!

  22. These days unfortunately, Christopher is not such an unusual name. Parents must be taking a liking to naming 1 of their progeny after the job description of another well-known Jewish boy. 😦

    BTW, we refer to them as “submarine” Jews — since they surface once or twice a year.

  23. The best Chazzan Korn / choir piece was on Yom Tov (when the board all wore Top Hats, of course) and they sang “Se’u she’arim … mi zeh melekh hakavod.” It felt like a regal piece. Another classic was the Michael Wreschner- Moshe Korn duet for “Tal.”

    So many wonderful memories of Raleigh Close. From those blue ropes which cordoned off the aisles during Kedusha, to the candle that burned in the kitchen on yomtov so that people could smoke (and we could practice putting our fingers through it.) The Children service, the Youth Service (in the days when the Youth Service didn’t find it incongruous to hold a barn dance) and of course, Hendon BA in the Sol Cohen Hall. Ladies Guild kiddushim, and the people who wore their medals to shul on Remembrance Day Shabbat. From Moshe Steinhart to Reverend Cashdan, Janus Cohen or Solly Gabe, it was filled with wonderfully idiosyncratic characters.

  24. Mike, you have really captured the unique atmosphere and memories.

    My father had the good fortune to be the acting gabbai, or ‘warden’ as they were known, for the overflow service in the Community Centre on a few occasions.

    One year, probably around 1980-ish, one of the ‘twice-a-year-ers’ was honored with Hagba’a. After a couple of nervous pats of his satin yarmulka, he arrived on the bima at the designated time, but it was clear that the guy was unsure of what he was expected to do.

    After a brief gesture from my dad indicating that he should lift it as high as he could, the guy heaved the large sefer torah aloft, to a very audible, “Jesus H. Chr*st, that’s heavy!!”

  25. Seeing as he is a reluctant commenter, I will recount the story someone told me last week, on a visit to Israel . . .

    He was in the visiting choir at Marble Arch Synagogue on Yom Kippur, when a congregant – after discovering that he’d missed his shachris pesicha – started shouting, “Why didn’t someone phone me, this morning, to let me know?”

  26. We have our “twice a year-ers” too.
    One Yom Kippur, quite a ‘well built’ older lady was given the honor of gelila. Upon handing her the breastplate, she gave me this “omg, what do I do next look”, I quietly instructed her to ‘put it on’-which she did-right around her neck.

  27. Hi Mike,
    A hilarious , but little known segment of “relocated” Anglo-Jewry, which I remember as a boy, although having departed more than 50 years ago to “Antverpen/Belgia”, was the “Yekkishe” congregation, going under the name of the “Sarah Klausner” shul.The Rabbi was the well known”Rabbiner Doctor” Anspacher, the scion of a well-known German rabbinic dynasty, who together with his Gabbaim and Shamash, ruled with an iron hand.”Befehl” was “Befehl”, as nobody ever discussed the order of Aliyot and sundry Kibbudim.
    The only incongruity about all this was that the officiating “Ba’al Tefilah” during the 17 years that he lived in the U.K. was my father, very well known as the man who the old Bobover Rebbe told :”Moishe Maier, you sing it the way I meant it to be sung”, when he was a 16 year-old and already a great purveyor of Chassidic nuschaot.
    I am pretty long in the tooth nowadays,but even when singing the Bobover “Kel adon”, with my 2 brothers in 4 part harmony (Dad’s missing in body,but not in spirit), I still find myself slipping into the same middle-German Hebrew that those Yekkes albeit, sitting down, but in a strict”Achtung” position, as in a Wagnerian opera, assumed,
    whilst their “heldentenoren”, baritones and bases resounded.
    They didn’t realise that their uplifted voices were giving first-class renderings of “Ostjuden” music. All everyone had to do was put on the
    most extreme of German accents and it was “gemùtlich”. And oh how they sang.
    Those were the days my friend.
    A Gmar Tov (whoops).
    See you soon.


  28. Avram Berniger

    The best Hagbah incident I ever witnessed at Raleigh Close was when a guest was given Hagbah on a particularly heavy sefer and Moishe Portnoy was Gelilah. (Moishe was in his younger days a commando in the British Army) After the guest lifted the sefer with considerable difficulty and Moishe grasped the Etz Chaim at the top, the guest promptly let go of the sefer! Moishe using his long-forgotten military skills managed somehow to hold onto the sefer and thus prevented us from an unwanted fast.

  29. I can see it now … “Shul’s Funniest Videos — Torah Bloopers” (or whatever you call them across the pond). LOL.

    My yekke rabbi, whose late father was a prominent Berliner rabbi, considers the music of Lewandowski to be the “real” MiSinai music.

  30. Another way the non-regulars could be spotted – shiny white leather trainers on yom kippur. The standard for the frummer crowd in the late seventies/early eighties was well worn Dunlop Greenflashes.

  31. Dunlop Greenflash. Now that is a trip down nostalgia lane.
    I prefer Rav Lichtenstein’s converse boots myself!

  32. When I joined RC (pre 70s) I was told that I would have to wait 20 years for a seat because in its heyday RC had 2000 members or so. I was eventually allocated a seat (after 20 years!) near the backdoor on which I never sat other than the Yamim Norai’im where I had a wonderful group of 2 x year members. My immediate neighbour always asked me to find the page for him and also answer other queries. The service had great etiquette and the pomp & circumstance was very “High” United Synagogue.

    Eventually, being a Board member I was asked to daven with those in the overflow (better than a backdoor seat) and though many felt that this was a second class minyan, over the years it became a real alternative where members from the ‘main’ shul chose to daven due to its more homely and perhaps informal style, where kiddush (wine & biscuits) were served after the service on RH. Top hats were dispensed with almost immediately and sometimes we were hard pressed to find enough men to fulfill the numerous ‘pesichot’ early in the day.

    One of the greatest events was when Chief Rabbi Sacks joined the minyan and himself lead the Neilla service when suddenly there wasn’t a seat to be had anywhere and the singing took the roof off. Fantastic.

  33. Well, Henry, sounds like a long way from our latest Kol Nidrei experience at the Great Synagogue . . .

    As the chazan sang the word “nidrei” (first time around), a mobile phone went off!

    There were also various t-shirts – including Abbey Road/Sgt. Pepper and Stars in Their Eyes – on show . . . certainly a long way from pocket square hankies and top hats!

    Still, this is the Middle East. 😉

  34. i spent this year with family in wembley shul (the place of my birth). when i was a teenager we had a main service, 2 overflow sites, a youth service, a childrens service and a toddlers service. now each male congregant has 2 or 3 seats to choose from in his row. where has everyone gone?

  35. “where has everyone gone?”

    Reform! 😉

  36. Stephen Portnoi

    Typical nonsense from a Leeds fan! However there are a few questions about RC I’d like answered:
    Why did all the decent looking birds only come to shul RH & YK? (each with a moose in tow as well)
    Why isn’t there a candle in the kitchen on YT anymore so you can light a fag or cigar?
    What happened to the ‘centre’ of the cloakroom where we used to play football (with someone’s trilby) ?
    At kiddush in the community centre why was it ok for old ladies to eat schmaltz herring on eierkichel over your head and drop bits into your hair?
    Why hasn’t someone changed the towel in the mens toilets?

  37. Thanks for compliment, Stephen (didn’t know Portnois could read . . . or did you go to a proper school like?!)

    Re the “birds,” as I mentioned in my post, I think it was a combination of overfamiliarity with the regulars and the fact that the Twice-a-Yearers were more tarted up.

    As for the candle, my guess is it’s a sign of that move to the right, and perhaps similar to some holier-than-thous refusing to use the eruv.

    The kiddush offers potential for a whole new post. Perhaps after your time, Stephen, but anyone recall the old dear who used to stuff her pockets full of grub? There were also the folks who you just knew it would be impossible to get to the tables past!

    And, of course, there is also the rich subject of Moshe. Where to start? The funniest incident I recall – and topical, this Erev Sukkot – was from the first Ma’ariv of the festival, one year: Before Yigdal (or whatever), Moshe gets up to invite congregants for kiddush in the Succah adjoining the Aviva Hardman Hall. In spite of the Hall being right next to the main shul, Moshe of course gets into a ten-minute explanation (and I exaggerate not!) of how to get there from each and every exit of the shul. Anyone recall?

    Other memories of Moshe were the times that he would go absolutely berserk – usually while someone was helping him move a Sefer from one Ark to another – and, of course, the dreaded limp sandpaper handshake! 😉

    Though, for a bit of nostalgia, Stephen, you can’t beat this.

  38. As a chorister in the R.C. choir from the early ’40s until I made aliyah with my wife erev Pesach this year, I am moved and humbled to read of the lasting impressions the choir and chazan made on so many people then and how much some of what was sung then, is still missed today.
    I am proud to be able to say that my Kol Nidrei memories of R.C. go back to the great renowned chazan David Kusevitsky when there was no central bimah in the shul. At that time there was no Communal Centre nor Aviva Hardman Hall just rose gardens!!
    In those days the choir for weddings consisted of male AND female voices..!

  39. I had the great honor of studying chazzones w/ David Koussevitsky during my last year in seminary. He was a great hazzan w/ a sweet neshomah.

  40. I am thinking of launching a campaign in my shul (Ner), called “Bring back the rope”. What a brilliant invention that was.
    Re the “twice a year” barmitzvah celebrants; I heard that the late Rabbi of Woodside Park Synagogue used to say to the barmitzvah boy, as he handed over the traditional JNF Tree Certificate: “I have pleasure in presenting you with your Shul Leaving Certificate”!

  41. Richard Burns

    This site continues to be a revelation to me. How could posts from Joe Lederman and Avram Berniger not move one to write?

    I sang in that choir under Lionel Leigh (literally right under his sometimes frighteningly aggressive conducting arm) watching the greats like Mr. Lederman and Stan Warren in the back row with their incredible, rich and powerful voices. Graham, I actually did the boy soprano solo on Hashkiveinu one year (probably around 1971 or 72 before my voice popped). Got paid an extra 5p, which was double the weekly salary. (Did folks know that we got paid in the choir?). I hope you’re more than well, Joe.

    And, Avram Berniger, one of the great mensches of Raleigh Close from the 70s. You did take the children’s service – and you were always a kind and gentle man. There was of course your formidable mother, whom we respected and adored, Queen of the Ladies’ Guild and overseer of the kiddishes. Our crowd had one firm view around kiddishes; only smoked salomon on, between or under something qualified you for the ten out of ten designation – the three star Michelin if you will.

    But I am trying for the life of me to triangulate all the other information in these blogs. Mike, I couldn’t agree with you more that the “left bank” (as seen from the main entrance) was the place to be. Mr. Baker vs. Lance Charkham – I rest my case.

    You sat wedged next to the aptly described “Dickensian” Mr. Baker. Odd thing is that we were right next to Mr. Baker and his ginger sons, too. But I have no clear recollection of you, or your intriguing brother Jonny. I am waiting for it all to come flooding back to me. I read the tribute to your brother, which was very moving. I remember Ron Dombey (played perfectly by Sean Penn as Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) but not yet your brother.

    Truth is that the Hasmo boys of RC in the 70s were rampant but quite separate from a lot of the other boys, who didn’t go to a Jewish school but went to Cheder at RC and went to the Youth Club in the Sol Cohen during the week and Sundays. I have no idea why so few Hasmo boys turned up. Were we not frum enough? While you were all meeting up at Hendon Park for a pick up game on Sundays, the youth club were championing their way every year across London winning the Assoc of Jewish Youth trophies. So we had a parallel universe of boys like Ralph Brill (picked up on by Graham’s sister Marilyn), Matthew Kalman, the wonderful Andrew White, Julian Weinberg. We went to school and cheder together. We had friends from Hasmo, too, and I cite my former very good pal David Harounoff but you guys just stuck together more.

    That said, and since your reticent former colleagues at Hasmo seem to have lost their tongues on the topic, I am happy to respond to the gauntlet thrown down earlier up in this post: All Time Top Ten Raleigh Close Pin Ups…..

    Since in another part of this blog, I have already made it clear that I fancied Marilyn Summers in the worst possible way, I humbly nominate her.

    Second, a nomination that will probably guarantee my place in the netherunderworld, I always thought Rev Moishe Korn’s daughter was gorgeous, and she had total central positioning up in the ladies gallery on the highest of holy-days. If I see Doron Korn (of whom I was very fond) at my door, I know not to open now…..

    Then, since I have mentioned Lance and have seen her somewhere post before, it wasn’t just the teens that turned us on with fantasies during the most inappropriate times during davening. Please tell me that no one else had a crush on Dinny Charkham?

    Thank you, Mike and others, for really making me smile and reminisce. Funny that I don’t really give a shit about university or grad school reunions, old company get-togethers, but the Raleigh Close experience of the 70s still holds it for me…

  42. Lovely nostalgic comments guys – from one who was born and bred and married in Raleigh Close!!! Always remember the choir, the new WINTER clothes that we had to show off – not here in Israel cos too hot! – the whole social atmosphere of being in a place where everyone knew you and your family….

  43. Richard, I’m pleased to say that not only am I well T.G. and living in Jerusalem with Wendy but also flattered to be remembered as one of the “greats” in the R.C. choir…thank you. It was heartwarming to read how much you remember and how much you enjoyed those times. Stan Warren is still singing in a shul choir in London!!

  44. Dear Joe,
    Warms the cockles of my heart to know you and Wendy are alive and well and flourishing in Israel. What happened to the rest of your Hendon family?

  45. David is married and lives in UK. Your sister taught both his boys. Robert is married and lives here in Israel. He has three sons and a daughter..Wishing you and your family well, Joe

  46. Robert Lederman

    Great thread! What about the speeches at the Kiddushim. Mark Moss z”l would always start the main part of his speech with “Now Ladies and Gentlemen, as I’m sure you all know………” And I was always wondering why he was telling us something he thought we all knew !
    On the Yamim Noraim there was always the Melech Evyon, Melech Elyon pantomime. In the days before Artscroll, you pretty much had to know when to “bend and bow” and “concentrate intently” and “scan these names with your eyes only” by yourself (although the scanning bits didn’t actually appear in the Routledge, because there weren’t so many Kaballa wannabees back then). So picture this:the pair who had peticha for the Melech Elyon piyut and who are 3 times a yearers, are up the stairs by the Ark. When the Chazzan would reach “melech Evyon” one of them would pull the cord to close the parochet, they would shake hands with each other and start to walk down those stairs . Now we all know that tripping down those stairs in full view of the packed shul was not desirable. So these two men would look down intensely at the stairs holding the golden rail not noticing that the wardens were waving frantically that they needed to go back to open the Ark for Aval Melech Elyon. Finally when they got to the bottom, they turned around and back up the stairs they went.
    I’m actually curious for soneone to check a routledge and see if it has instructions to open and close the ark on that piyut.
    And your so right, Mike, RC on Kol Nidre night- that really was something else!

  47. Mike et al,

    Been reading and watching the blogs for a while now but always hesitated as I was only a “token hasmo boy”….being a CLS kid our school holidays were slightly different but I spent many a happy day at Hasmo where several of the teachers considered me to be an exemplary pupil, one used to call out my name on the morning register. This thread does take me back down memory lane….born, bred and still living in Hendon I now find myself in my 3rd year as FR of the Shul and they still won’t let me bring back top hats! Youth services, the Choir (those dreadful little black square sweets uncle Joe would suck on), all wonderful memories and as we have just started to rebuild and redevelop the Sol Cohen hall and Beis Hamedrash those memories seem even clearer….just wanted to let Richard Burns know that it must have been some 35+ years ago when he baby sat me at the Charkham’s house on New Years eve….I went on to marry Tracy but will let my mum in-law know that u carried a torch for her….but I think she knew it anyway! FYI, I now sit on the Shul Board of Management with your mum ….

    Loads more to chat about especially the magnificent piece about uncle Stanley….a major figure of my formative years….life in Hendon and RC….and Angelos set of keys..Kaplans the dirtiest deli in the days before health and safety….SPS (signal processing systems) where my parents bought me my first HiFi..and Mr Martins (DELI) slicing the smoked salmon so painstakingly carefully….awesome. Before I sign off just a quick thought….Shabbos Rosh Chodesh a couple of weeks back….I found myself sitting in “The Box” as we only have 1 gubbah at RC these days and he (Richard Herman) was unwell….I found myself calling out the words “Atoh Yotzarto” to the Kehilla in a voice similar to Moshe Steinhart’s and looking across at my dad and Sid Wagner with a smile on our faces….certain things, especially the really silly things, stay with us for life. Be well and we shall speak soon.


  48. Richard Burns

    Andrew, it’s a beautful thing that you married Tracy and I do remember babysitting over at the Charkham’s! I also have very fond memories of your Dad and Mum and the Wagners at a time when we were young and all of our parents must have formed a “Young Married’s” club for the recently wed with small kids. And, btw, Florence Lounge was a great place to hang out once you got over the glatt kosher thing….

  49. Of course I remember Rev Brysh (Sheffield). The little man with the big (and beautiful) voice. Great personality – just right for the Sheffield Community at that time. And to whoever mentioned Rev Cashdan and Janus Cohen (whose wife was from Sheffield) whatever happened to their children Evie Cashdan and Judy and Edmond Cohen?

  50. Matthew Kalman

    Wow! Where has this blog been hiding and why have I only just stumbled upon it? Great opening piece by Mike and delighted to see posts from so many old friends. Richard’s post reminded me of one of my favourite RC stories: Richard’s legendary and much-missed father Henry Burns, head of the (I think) building committee, got a frantic call one day from our beloved Moshe Steinhart. “Mr Burns, the bush at the back of the shul is on fire. What should I do?” Henry’s sage advice: “Take off your shoes and talk to it.”

    And yes, Moshe Korn was as awesome as hazan as his daughter was beautiful. Anyone wanting to re-live his amazing “Se’u she’arim … mi zeh melekh hakavod” could do worse than to drop by Yael shul in Baka, Jerusalem, where Meir Fachler does a very fine version, assisted by the crowd, that bears comparison with the original.

  51. Richard Burns

    Delighted to see that Matthew’s arrived. Sounds exactly like my Dad. Another tale in the same vein was him going around to Rabbi Silberg’s house at Christmas time to visit our fine communal leader who was sick with a rash, the Rabbi opening the door and my father belting out a version of “Shingle Bells, Shingle Bells, Shingles all the way….”

    But in terms of classical Raleigh Close, Raymond Kalman has to be in the upper pantheon of all time greats…one step behind your lovely mum..

  52. Welcome, Matthew. If you had gone to Hasmonean, you’d have heard about melchett mike sooner (though I am not sure that would justify the price!)

    I am reminded of an interview I conducted with you, in your New Moon offices in the early 90s, for a radio documentary that I made on “Jewish Street Life and the Beck.” The documentary went on to win a major award, and your contribution was just brilliant – I remember finding it extremely difficult to edit . . . because I didn’t want to leave any of it out! (New Moon was, in my opinion, much underrated, or, at least, not sufficiently supported by apathetic Anglo-Jews.)

    My best to your folks. Chatting with your dad – while back in London doing my articles, several years ago – made those Northern Line journeys far more bearable. Though I don’t know what he would have to say about melchett mike . . . my guess is that he would complain bitterly about the split infinitives and incorrect application of “who” and “whom” (though I would urge you to remind him which educational establishment my parents sent me to!)

    And, while your mother is, indeed, “lovely,” I am a tad concerned about Richard’s preoccupation with Raleigh Close mothers . . . indeed, grandmothers. Perhaps I should start a slighly less inappropriate, melchett mike version of Readers’ Wives – “Raleigh Close Grannies”?! – specially for Richard. 😉

  53. Matthew Kalman

    Finally, the identity of the “nice young man on the Northern Line” who brightened up my father’s commuting is revealed. You don’t have to worry about Raymond criticizing your split infinitives since he regards the web as a passing fad that he refuses to use. It’s not for nothing that Richard Burns dubbed my wonderful and passionate dad “Angry of Hendon.” I’m fairly sure that Richard’s attitude to my mother was, and still is, purely platonic, though I can only agree that among the Hendon wives who graced Raleigh Close in my teenage years Mrs Charkham was not only in a class of her own but also Italian.

  54. Well, at least “Raymond” now has a neighbour at Raleigh (though no offence to the former ones) who can engage him in sufficiently elevated conversation . . . and, no doubt, free of grammatical errors! I just hope he isn’t being billed by the hour! 😉

  55. Matthew Kalman

    Anthony has happily re-married and absconded to Dollis Hill, the Islington of Jewish London, but there’s still a good crowd in that far left corner. There are dangers sitting so close to the pulpit. Last time I visited, I fell asleep during the sermon and snored so loudly he had to stop until Dad woke me up. I haven’t been back since…

    This blog is seriously addictive and has wrecked my morning work schedule. Thanks Mike for a great, stomach-tuggingly nostalgic laugh.

  56. Avram Berniger

    When my Dad died in 1995 Raymond Kalman specially asked to “take over his seat” – he said that Mr Berniger was the only person to whom he would never answer back (correct grammatically?) Mazal Tov to the Kalman family on Raymond’s recent 80th birthday!
    Incidentally, if anyone currently at Raleigh Close is reading this, can you tell us all what are the plans for expanding the Beit Hamidrash so we shall know what awaits us on our next visit……

  57. Avram, with the greatest of pleasure. The Beit Hamidrash is being turned around to run parallel to the Sol Cohen Hall, down the far side of the site, and finally, after all these years, actually face Mizrach. New furniture, fixtures and fittings as well as aircon throughout. The Sol Cohen Hall is being extended as far back as possible and will incorporate a retractable roof to allow “indoor/outdoor” chuppahs and increase capacity to approx 300+ for davening and simchas. New offices and new WC’s as well. The redevelopment had been talked about for a number of years but nothing had been done except pay out a lot of money to a lot of architects. The newly refurbished wing of the Shul will be renamed in memory of Rev and Mrs Hardman Z”L but will incoroporate their current names as “formerly known as….” Work started the day after Simchat Torah and PG will be finished shortly after Pesach next year. The Main Shul building and Community Centre will be left to future Executives and B of M to decide how and when to refurbish. Please do stop by next time you are in town. It promises to be something quite special and long overdue for our Kehilla.

    Matthew, I have told my mum in-law of your comments and she is very flattered and looks forward to hearing from you.

    Mike, I took your suggestion on board and have asked the US to start a page in their online magazine entitled “Reverends’ Wives”. Will keep you posted.

  58. I won’t be subscribing, Andy 😉 . . . though (if you could use your position to get your hands on one) I would dearly love one of those indestructible black toilet seats as a memento of my childhood.

    Following his recent comments here, I met up with Matthew K in Jerusalem, last week, when we reminisced at length – and with no little mirth – about the Raleigh C of yesteryear. And I think it was agreed that it was better than anything we have found since (not that I have been looking that hard!)

    During our conversation, I recalled an occasion on which Reverend Hardman refused to continue with his Shabbos sermon until an excessive “shockeler,” catching up with his shachris amidah, had retaken his seat – a good example, I think, of the way in which fanaticism/lack of derech eretz was once (healthily, I believe) frowned upon in the US.

  59. Toilet seat done! With or without the chain?

  60. A little rinse would certainly be appreciated (though, if I were you, I wouldn’t ask Tracy . . . )

  61. Avram Berniger

    Andy, what are you doing in the meantime? Are you still davvening in the Beit Hamidrash during refurbishment?

  62. Avram, The Early Minyan are currently davening upstairs in the Community Centre until the Beit Hamidrash is ready. It is a building site at the moment. The Alternative Minyan remain in the Sol Cohen hall for the time being and work will start there once the Beit Hamidrash is finished. All weekday minyanim are held in the Main Shul for the duration of the works.

  63. Thank you, Andy. All crystal clear now.

    Have you been taking lessons from Moshe?!

  64. no Mike, but please refer to your newsletter for the times of services.

  65. “Mincha dis ufternoon . . .”

  66. ben hashatz moshe

    hi mike and all-comers from the hendon shul that i grew up with.

    there are many untold stories about life at hendon shul here are just a couple to start with.

    one yom kippur at kol nidrei when i must have been 5 years old chazan korns son allegedly did a bolt from the entrance all the way to his dad. the chazan was doing kol nidrei. fortunately the shammes prior to moishe steinhart called mr rosenthal zl who managed to do a rugby tackle (standing up with tallis on) and hauled the young man in.

    the chazans son also spent time in his younger year crawling along the ladies gallery during maariv with david rothstein (son of myer rothstein and nephew of michelle goldberg). they also explored the half built community centre and had various forays on the roof of the main shul.

    the other untold story was that of the infamous water fight between avram and david berniger and their neighbours the korn kids across the toilet/bathroom windows while the parents were at a shul simcha.

    mike thank you for a fond memory of my youth and of chazan moshe korn zl. i will be soon posting some music on you tube as well as some download links for some of his lost music as well as other recorded music.

    as for you avram pls g-d we are coming for dinner some time in early jan 2011…will advise.

    kol tuv to all.


  67. Lovely to hear from you, Doron. By the sound of things, your son – I recall a particularly mischievous one (the oldest?) – was a “chip off the old block”!

    Please remember to post links to the music here. We all look forward . . .

  68. ben hashatz moshe

    yes they all are…… but things didnt go to plan. have turned out to be fine boys one in the mir another in merkaz hatorah and well moshe actually works for a living.

    sub story: the burglars……
    having married a cous cous wife my sons became familiar with kissing the sefer torah in paris after maariv erev shabbes. in an impulsive moment (of madness) they decided to go kiss the sifrei toroh during kabolos shabbes… so we had the rest of davening with the alarm on!

    p.s. datsun of mine was yours truly.

  69. Shabbos dinner at the local curry house? http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=137265359661658

    Who said Raleigh Close has become staid?!

  70. Shocked to hear that ex-Hasmo Peter Moss, son of Mark – long-time Raleigh Close Financial Officer – and Jo Moss, our former neighbours in Edgeworth Crescent, was among the dead in last Thursday’s bomb attack in Marrakesh . . .


    The last time I saw Peter was in a Belsize Park cafe in the mid-90s, when I interviewed him for a radio documentary I was making. He was doing the Jewish comedy circuit at the time.

    Boruch Dayan Emes.

  71. Omigosh, Mike, I’ve just read this post (met someone in the nail salon yesterday who forwarded your blog to me). I’m Jo & Mark’s daughter and Peter’s sister. I’ve loved reading these memories, albeit they’re mainly from well after my time in Hendon, but am sorry to say that I don’t know who you are. Of course, that could be because you’re considerably younger than I am! You say you were a neighbour of ours in Edgeworth – do please enlighten me further.


  72. Hi Judy,

    I am delighted to hear that melchett mike is being discussed in the nail salons of North-West London!

    I am the son of Norma and Harold Isaacson, from 12 Edgeworth. Ring any bells? My father was an Irish radiologist, and we were regulars at your folks’ post-shul kiddushes! I also used to walk home from Raleigh with your father on Friday evenings, when I was too young to do so on my own. He was a lovely man. You might also recall my late brother, Jonny: https://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/jonathan-jonny-isaacson-zl-1958-1979/.

    Did you also see this re Hendon? https://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/hendon-just-nostalgic-illusion/

    Where are you these days?

    Heartfelt condolences from mum and I re Peter.


  73. Michael, of COURSE I remember you, and your lovely parents and late brother Jonathan. I remember being very sad when he died. How’s your Mum? Do please give her my very warm wishes.

  74. Kol Nidrei in TA’s Great Synagogue (on Allenby) again, this year . . .

    A native in front of me and my neighbour, Barry – another former US (Cockfosters & North Southgate) man – was following the service on his iPhone, while another, two rows in front, was on his iPad . . .

    Causing me to wonder whether the famous prayer may, some time soon, have to be amended to . . .

    “Ashamnu, bagadnu, iPhonenu, iPadnu . . .”

  75. Next year, rather than having to venture out on the holiest of nights, maybe it will be possible to order VOD (Vidui on Demand) or Pray Per View:


    “IN SPECTACULAR ‘G-D’ (if you have the special glasses)”


  76. I take the liberty of publishing – without express permission – the following, from a private e-mail correspondence with a Raleigh Closer in relation to our former shul. I urged the author to post to the blog, but he still hasn’t, leaving me with little choice. He is, however, free to take credit/own up!

    P.S. Here is a question for you that I was thinking about this weekend – what are the key features of a classic United Synagogue Gents toilet?

    1. Hard toilet paper (obvious)
    2. White tiles with speckled pattern
    3. A strong smell of pine (lemon is not acceptable) from air freshener
    4. Ambient temperature around 0 to -3 degrees, with one small upper window that cannot be closed
    5. A constant dripping/swirling noise that is untraceable to any particular source

    also, key components in a shul “box” belonging to someone else which you start rummaging around in when you’re bored during leyning:

    1. A kol nidre card from 3 years ago (always 3 years; not 1, 2 or 4)
    2. A yellowed crumpled, cut out article from the JC from 10 years ago (not 1, 2 or 9)
    3. 3 kleenex tissues
    4. Singers prayer book (blue version, pink pages) which belongs to the shul
    5. Routledge (no other brand permitted) machzor for second (not first) part of yom kippur service
    6. Two sweet wrappers (exact number).

    Have I missed anything?

  77. Mike – nice bumping into you and reminiscing yesterday!

    What about those old stye revolving hand-towel contraptions on the wall – which you needed to tug in order to dry your hands … sometimes it would inexplicably jam without any chance of release, and other times it wouldn’t roll up – resulting, by the end of mussaf, in a huge length of ‘used’ schmutter across the entire length of the floor …

  78. Mike – next time you’re in the shtetl you’ll have to come and see the new loos at Raleigh Close. However when Kinloss did their big renovations a couple of years ago they decided to leave their loos exactly as they were (and as the post states), presumably somebody just decided that is just the way a shul loo has to be!

  79. I am very sorry to learn – from various sources in Hendon – that our legendary (I omit “former” purposely) shammes, Moshe Steinhart, passed away this morning. Baruch Dayan Emes.

    I can say with some confidence that there will never be another, even nearly, like him.

  80. When I heard the news this morning I re-read some of the blog and memories did indeed come flooding back. A truly special man and a real “one off”. I had the pleasure to lein my Barmitzvah parsha, Naso, for him a few weeks ago at The Ella & Ridley Jacobs home and could still picture him in the Shul office teaching me my parsha some 35 years ago. That means something. The Levaya is tomorrow at Bushey Cemetery at 1pm and the Shiva will be at his daughter’s home through next Wednesday evening. Moshe will be sorely missed. Baruch Dayan Emes.

  81. Mike
    This could have been 9th Street Shul, Orange Grove, Johannesburg. For lack of space, I am sure you have left out Mr Kramersh who usually fainted and was promptly revived by no less than 7 volunteers with small vials of smelling salts; the early-bird snuff distributors; the chazzen with the white cantor’s hat (pom-pom included); not sure if there were machzor preferences, but in SA, we had those who dug up their Adlers, and the others – the Birnbaum users. (The page-shower guy at the front of the shul had both, and was the busiest guy in shul).
    Indeed, Kol Nidrei, was Kol Nidrei. At least these days, it is a lot quicker!
    Shana Tova and a Leichte Tonnis as we used to say.

  82. I was saddened to learn today of the passing of another Hendon legend, Raymond Kalman.

    Perhaps because he sat on the ‘wrong’ side of the main shul, I only got to know Mr. K during our many shared Northern Line journeys in the early-to-mid 2000s.

    While I was always aware that he was a maverick, it was only on those rides to Angel – during my legal training – that I first got to enjoy Raymond’s entertaining conversation and forthright, always highly perspicacious, opinions. They were a real pleasure.

    Baruch Dayan Emes.

  83. I received the same e-mail from Matthew this morning, Lord Melchett, telling of Raymond’s passing. Never did an angrier nor kinder, menschier man ever stroll Vivian Avenue. He was indeed a legend and simply a marvellous man.

  84. “The din is uniquely Jewish״. Love it!

  85. North Hendon Adass Yisroel was another thing entirely
    Though perhaps today not

    I should mention that the pinching Rabbi Cooper held sway up North

  86. There is nothing new under the sun and other such cliches…part 325… According to the ‘official’ Hendon Synagogue history written in 1978 [by Geoffrey Alderman] to commemorate 50 ‘glorious’ RC years there were, by 1973, already concerns that Yom Kippur attendance was in serious decline.

  87. Loved and still miss attending United Synagogue “high holy days” where the daily attendees and the twice yearers were equally welcome.
    Sadly for me shul in Israel does not compare.
    Great post!

  88. Lauren Petschek

    I enjoyed reading this blog, being a Raleigh Close resident and shul goer in the olden days, I remember it all, the yobs in the park behind, the overflow, the smell of the toilets, even the old phonebox down a couple steps with the push buttons A and B. And of course Moshe Korn, Rev Hardman, Doron and Ilana Korn. All the hats our mums wore, the braided ropes, being shushed during the sermons, the Kol Nidre appeal cards. Sigh it was all so long ago. Lauren (Brown).

  89. Jeremy Portnoi

    Great piece Mike, you’ve managed to capture some of the most nostalgic moments of our Raleigh close childhood, especially the ‘kuppel patters’- classic!

  90. This is hillarious. I grew up with parents who made their own arrangements with God. So typically funny. I assume by your references to Stan Bowles, Loftus Rd and my beloved QPR that you must be a fellow sufferer!!

  91. Marilyn Gillis

    Brilliant description of the United Hebrew congregation in Leeds! I have so often thought it in your exact terms down to the crocodile set of Routledge machzorim! My battered set is navy blue and the list of dates for forth-coming years decades out of date! Many thanks for this!

  92. Suzanne Balaban

    I had the great good fortune to be at the wedding tonight, in Jerusalem, of Rev Hardman and Josi’s z’l great granddaughter. Rev. Hardman retired just before my batmitzvah (I think) but my parents and grandparents adored him, and now, after this beautiful wedding I was thinking about RC, and what formative years they were. We did the Kinloss – RC hop on Yom Tov, came early for the currant buns before Wednesday afternoon cheder, hid when Mrs. Varhaftig saw us on Golders Green High Street, adored the melodies (still sing them) and even though, honestly, we were twice a yearers, I ended up swinging way over on the frum-o-meter. Matthew Kalman! Thought I knew you from somewhere.

  93. Robert Chevins

    Great article (even though i was part of that ‘Twice A Year overflow’ mob you mentioned – ‘poncy looking sons’ eh?! Now you know where one of them ended up!). I can’t talk about the main Shul but in the overflow i just remember a lot of nice people who just happened to not attend Shul very often! I also remember a lot of Sephardi friends of mine attending the overflow service, in the days before Sephardim had their own, much nicer Shuls to daven in. I’ll tell you what, as i get older i find that on Kol Nidrei i’m automatically singing to myself the tune for the final Kaddish that i remember from Raleigh Close. Hard to describe it in words, but you probably remember it. Brings a lump to my throat every time…. But anyway, since we’re reminiscing about Raleigh Close, i do have a vivid memory of walking home one Yom Tov with my friend Nick Lawson and his uncle Irving Scholar (before the time that he was Spurs chairman), and going back to his house on Edgeworth Crescent to listen to some football scores on the radio. Now you must admit, there’s not a lot of Orthodox people around who have little vignettes like that!

  94. giantjellyfish

    Roughly mirroring our good wholesome northern experience – i believe the good Lord understood our Yizkor exodus from United Sheffield to Sheffield United (that day YK was on a shabbes) and back in time for Neilah… at least I’d like to think so…

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