New Stoke Newington Shul – London

What makes a synagogue?

To some people, it’s all about the building – a beautiful ark, comfortable chairs, a glowing Ner Tamid.

But working in the New Stoke Newington Shul in London, it’s clear to me that a synagogue is not really about space – it’s about the people.

New Stoke Newington Shul is based in East London, an up-and-coming area, very attractive to young adults looking to move away from the suburban Jewish life of their parents. It’s home to artists and immigrants, hipsters and chassids. But ten years ago we lacked a synagogue that was deeply authentic, and also honest and open. We lacked a Masorti shul.

A motivated group of locals decided that they had had enough of shopping around to different communities for the High Holy Days, and that they would organize their own services. Thus New Stoke Newington Shul was born.

Built into all of our services is a chance to get to know one another. We do Chevrutah (paired text study) or other learning whenever we meet, and it is through this that we have built a community.

We believe that synagogues are all about relationships, connecting people together, and helping us all to build something greater than any one of us could do alone. Together we’re bringing people into community who never thought they would ever join a shul – much less run one.

There’s still a lot to do, but in Stoke Newington we know that we must do it together.

Rabbi Roni Tabick is the rabbi at the New Stoke Newington Shul and can be reached at rabbi@nsnshul.org.uk