All our yesterdays – Echoes of now

Part 11 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – the late 70s

Back in 2014-5, KLS Member Howard Webber wrote a series of articles for our community magazine casting a light on days gone by. He had been looking through copies of our publications from the inception of our community in 1967 and throughout the Seventies. We are now re-publishing these articles for a wider audience – we hope you will enjoy Howard’s inimitable style as he accompanies us into yesteryear…….(please note, that where individuals are no longer with us, we refer to them by their initials).

I’m now entering the second year of writing this stuff, and in celebration (I know how to have a good time) I’ve borrowed a new bound volume of Kingston News. The bright gold letters on the spine read ‘Sept. 1976 to Dec. 1980’. What wonders and delights await within?

First up, randomly selected but very pertinent, is a letter in the February 1977 KN from Joint President LF, rebuking Hon Treasurer RC. R had claimed that the 1976 Kol Nidrei appeal, raising £1426.15, had achieved a record. L wrote that the 1974 appeal had raised more than £1600: ‘to praise our congregation for their generosity, when it is sadly lacking, serves no useful purpose’.

On which theme, I see that our links with Fircroft, among this year’s HHD charities (Ed: in 2014), go back decades! In the December 1980 KN, SZ, reported on a visit by the Women’s Society A-Team to Fircroft’s day centre ‘armed with Dutch apple cake, roast beef and 20lbs of sprouts’. They ‘set to work to produce a really delicious Sunday lunch for 20 members, four helpers and the six of us’. So we have a tradition to keep up; but no sprouts for me, thanks…

My first glimpse into late ‘70s KLS was full of such pre-echoes of now. There was great fear of antisemitism in mainland Europe and in Britain. The Board of Deputies (according to the July/August 1977 KN) protested against an offensive statement on Israel made by David Steel MP, was deeply concerned about ‘antisemitic activities by some students at universities’, and was ‘carrying out various defence methods which were extremely costly but well worth while’. After a Friday night service in October 1980, Joint President SR addressed the congregation: ‘In practically every Synagogue in Great Britain, either tonight or tomorrow morning, mention will be made from the pulpit of the recent recrudescence of anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere’. And so on.

I have absolutely no idea what lesson to draw from this. (Ed: me neither).

Kadimah 2013

And since Kadimah continues to flourish (as the crowded coaches departing from KLS on August 14 testify), it is strange to think that way back in 1980, Kadimah-nostalgia was already all the rage. With siren calls like ‘Do you remember Bearwood College… swimming in the lake… trying to find the gym at Farringtons??? Do you remember the Shtetl… The Jerusalem travel game… The judges???’, an invitation went out to ‘All Kadimites’ (what an ugly term) to a tenth anniversary reunion hosted by Rabbi Andrew and Mrs Sharon Goldstein. Happy days, also recalled by a KLS member writing of her 1977 Kadimah experiences: as the coaches left the Montagu centre, ‘Our faces blushed with exhileration’. She will remain anonymous, to spare her exhilerated blushes…   

And what (I pretend to hear you asking) of the Young Marrieds? Do keep reading…