The identity of our congregation used to be defined by our geographic location (Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue) and while we remain anchored in the neighbourhood of our synagogue building it is no longer our most defining feature.
With the name The Ark, we invoke numerous images that resonate what we as a synagogue stand for. There are two ‘Arks’ in the Torah: Noah’s Ark and the Ark, which contained the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written on them. The Ark of our Sanctuary is not only our visual focus point during services but holds particular meaning for our congregation as it houses our most sacred treasure – our Torah scrolls – and linked to them, our rich history of engagement and commitment to our Czech and Slovak heritage. And likewise, the image of Noah’s ark is a powerful metaphor for our community at this time. Just as Noah’s ark allowed him, his family and the animals to survive the choppy waters of the flood, our synagogue is here to help us navigate this difficult time period.
The Ark Synagogue began life as the Pinner & District Liberal Congregation in 1964 with 30 families. Student rabbi Andrew Goldstein was appointed as Principal of the Religion School in 1965 and acting minister in 1967. In 1966 the congregation changed its name to Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS). With membership having grown to some 1100 adults and approximately 300 children and junior members under 18 years of age, we adopted the name The Ark Synagogue in December 2020.
Not enough info to satisfy your curiosity? Join us for Kiddush after a service and ask our now-Emeritus Rabbi Andrew Goldstein.
We don’t get hung up on who is ‘technically’ Jewish or not. All that really matters is who wants to do Jewish or not. Let’s put it this way, you could be a direct descendant of Moses, but if you aren’t interested in trying anything Jewish, the ride is pretty much over. By the same token, you can be Mary Magdalene herself, and if you decide to jump on the Jewish train, and are open to seeing where it takes you, then the ride has just begun.
We don't start with whether you believe in God or not. We start with whether or not you want to do Jewish and be connected to a bunch of other people who are trying to do the same thing. We can get to the God thing later or never. The place to start should probably just be: “Do I want to do Jewish stuff?”
If you are new to praying, or can’t read Hebrew, or don’t even know the difference between Shabbat and Shalom, just give it time. It is normal for it to be difficult in the beginning, like a yoga class would be if you had never taken yoga. If you just keep showing up and trying, you will begin to get it. We promise. Start by praying one prayer with intention or even a single word rather than conquering the whole service. And, if it’s too much to sing the words, just sing the melody to yourself.
Our members come from many different backgrounds. We value diversity and our synagogue is enriched by all of our members. And our regulars are always excited to welcome newcomers and put them at ease. If you feel a little anxious about just showing up, contact the rabbis before your first visit - they are looking forward to hearing from you and helping you feel comfortable during your first visit.
We love sharing our music with all our members and our choir is happy to share its knowledge. Speak with the rabbis so that they can put you in touch with the right person. If you are keen to start learning right away, check out previous services on our YouTube channel and just sing along.
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Unequivocally yes! That is the whole idea. We have expanded the definition of “synagogue membership” and redefined belonging. We are a Synagogue that thrives on our local members, delights in those who live slightly more, or even further away, and welcomes anyone who wants to dip their toes into our spirituals waters.
Of course. We’d love to have you. Services are always free and open to all (see what's on for details). And, if you are worried about joining because of the financial implications we will explore how we can make it possible for you to belong to our community.
In the event of a death, if a relative or friend has died and they were included in our Funeral Scheme, please contact Ronnie King of Michael King Funeral Directors (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Bank Holidays and Jewish Festivals) on 020 8368 7453 or 07595 956 936. Ronnie will then inform the rabbis as soon as is practicable.
Best thing to do, is just show up. But if you prefer to write or speak first, you will find our contact details here.