All our yesterdays – KLS, NRA and KGB – ?!?

Part 6 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – Summer 1975.

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).

Recently I wrote about efforts in Spring 1975 to buy our new premises (‘pleasant site, with room for car parking’) in Rushett Road (not to mention the trial endured by a party from KLS at a recording of the totally, and rightly, forgotten sitcom ‘My Son Reuben’). I also referred to some intense religious controversies back in 1970, sparked off by the question whether we were ‘Liberal’, ‘Progressive’ or neither. Returning to 1975, the two issues magically came together.

In the July/August 1975 Kingston News (KN), the Chairman of what was still Kingston and District Progressive Jewish Congregation, DD, reported: ‘Most people feel that, with the advent of our building, the word Synagogue should replace Congregation in our title. Some feel that we should completely change our name’. Leaping forward a bit, the October issue included an insert notifying members of a Special General Meeting on October 10, with a unanimous recommendation from ‘your Council’ (I wish we were still known as ‘your Council’) that the name be changed to Kingston Liberal Synagogue. And did the change pass? If you don’t know the answer, you will have to wait in almost intolerable suspense for another month. But I can reveal that in September, KN reported ‘THE BUILDING IS OURS!’ – with a £15,000 mortgage. PFJ wrote: ‘All we need for our community life will in the near future be found at Rushett Road, Long Ditton’…

…paid for with the help of the sale of gold and silver brick charms (at £3 and £10 respectively; chain extra), the first 100 Club draw, oven gloves for 60p a pair and Buy-a-Pendant – Buy-a-Building. 

We also had a change of spiritual leader. Rabbi CC, having been ordained, left for Southgate (writing with uncharacteristic solemnity ‘it is sad to think that it is the last time my words will appear in these pages. We have come a long way together, you and I’); and LT arrived, ‘assigned to Kingston’ by Leo Baeck College for the following year.

To help equip the new building, SZ led a further Green Shield Stamp drive (if you ask me what they were, I can reveal my school summer holiday spent working for them in 1972) ‘to acquire dessert bowls to match the Congregation’s other crockery’. Was this aim ever achieved? The Women’s Society gathered to examine ‘what was under the bonnet of SS’s car’. And alarmingly, the Young Marrieds morphed into the National Rifle Association. Their garden party included a shooting competition (‘RD won an enormous elephant called Gorgeous’; since then the RSPCA has outlawed such prizes). They followed this up in September with a games and social evening at Twickenham Rifle Club. What was going on here?

A common sight at meetings of the Young Marrieds?! …..

More alarming still, a brief paragraph in the July/August issue reported that ‘The Autumn Programme is now being planned by the KGB Youth Club’. I am shaken to the core: Was the Fourth Man (or Child) concealed in our own Progressive (or Liberal) Community?        

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