Normally the Chief Rabbi’s visits to communities are planned months in advance, but the Chief Rabbi’s meeting with The Pope in Twickenham on Friday morning prompted a last minute decision to visit Richmond Syngagogue to daven shachrit and recite selichot prayers.
Richmond has previously benefited from its proximity to Twickenham as many shomrei Shabbat individuals have elected to stay in the community when international rugby matches have been held on Shabbat; Richmond is only a 20 minute walk from the stadium. This was, however, the first time the community had benefited from such a high profile visitor wishing to pray en route to Twickenham mid-week.
Richmond does not normally have minyanim on weekday mornings, but a quick email and telephone call-around ensured that around 30 members turned up to greet and pray alongside the Chief Rabbi and his entourage. The Chief Rabbi gave the community a message for Yom Kippur, which began the same evening, making the visit all the more auspicious. The impromptu breakfast that followed the service was the first time members could recall having a catered event on the same day as Kol Nidre.
Photo Caption: (Left to Right: Anthony Simons, Warden; Philip Baum, Chairman; Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks; Rabbi Yossi Ives; Paul Lawrence, Warden; Derek Davis, Financial Representative: Photo Credit: Eytan Boosman)