Who We Are
Where we are...
Wembley Synagogue, Forty Avenue, Wembley,
Tel: 020 8904 6565
Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, 10.30 – 12.30
Rabbi Simon Harris BA (Hons) MST (Oxon)
Wembley Synagogue, at the top of Forty Avenue, is an Orthodox congregation. Today, ninety years after its founding, it has some three hundred members, regular services for worship and much besides.
WUS is an outward-facing community that engages actively in civic life. Our Chairman, Charles Vitez, born in Budapest, the son of Holocaust survivors, is deeply involved in the programming for the Annual HMD event here in Brent. Our membership includes others, like Sir Ben Helfgott, a concentration camp survivor himself, who became an award-winning Olympic weightlifter and Dr Eve Willman BEM, a distinguished biochemist, who came to Britain on the Kindertransport. Survival is etched onto the DNA of Wembley’s orthodox Jewry.
Our Rabbi, Simon Harris, regularly speaks to school groups who visit the Synagogue from all over the borough and far beyond, as part of the National Curriculum. Rabbi Harris also frequently leads assemblies in local schools. Our Rebbetzin, Alison, heads our initiatives for Mitzvah Day leading volunteers from our shul in Interfaith Projects involving other local communities.
On Sabbaths and Festivals our Shul has traditional services. Our Rabbi, who doubles as our Chazan, is well trained in the modes and compositions that let us know it is Shabbat or Yom Tov. WUS is a very warm and friendly congregation; everyone gets Aliyot, not just the regulars and our services always conclude with a wonderful Kiddush.
Our Rabbi and Rebbetzin are both Oxford graduates. Rabbi Harris studied for a Masters in Oriental Studies at Wolfson College, following a BA in Hebrew from SOAS. Rabbi Harris also spent six years at Yeshiva in Jerusalem, receiving ordinations from Gedolei Torah including the late Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Yitzchak Kolitz, Zatzal. The Rebbetzin is a music teacher. The Rabbi and his wife have two children, and together the family bring great energy and enthusiasm to our community.
The Rabbi prides himself on being a conscientious pastor and a lifetime student of Torah. All matters pertaining to sickness and death are dealt with sensitively, and when we have a Simcha the entire community rejoices as one extended family. The Rebbetzin has pioneered very successful communal meals in the Bessie Clapman Hall. Our lunch on Shabbat Chanukah 2019 was attended by over sixty people. After the children lit Chanukah candles for us we had a communal Havdalah. This is the stuff of a real Kehilla.
The future is difficult to predict for all communities. We are a predominantly mature group of traditional Jews but Wembley as an area is undergoing massive change. Wembley City, as it is styled now, comprises not just the Designer Outlet but also a large new theatre and Wembley Park will soon be the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 2020 sees Brent as a borough touting itself as an area of many cultures and much cultural activity. The population of Wembley has been growing by the thousands year on year and who the new denizens of our neighbourhood may be is anyone’s guess. The Rental Revolution and the many new homes for sale could radically change the local demography.
We will remain a secure hub for those who want and need a traditional component in their lives but we are ripe for expansion and if newcomers were to choose to make Wembley their new base in North West London we are waiting with a big Shalom Aleichem!