All Our Yesterdays – Peacekeeping and mysteries…….

Part 7 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – Autumn1975.

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).

A hidden theme of these archive excavations has been the discovery that KLS in the 1970s was split between two camps – the Young Marrieds and the Women’s Society. If the simmering tensions between them put you in mind of competing Mafia families, or the Montagues and Capulets, that’s your affair. Last month, I reported that in the summer of 1975 the stakes were raised, when the Young Marrieds’ garden party included a shooting competition, and their next meeting was held at the Twickenham Rifle Club.

But there was a change of heart as autumn drew on – maybe peacekeepers (or the High Holydays) had been at work. For the October 1975 Kingston News reported that a joint meeting was in prospect. But nothing was left to chance: in order to avoid unfortunate accidents, and to have trained help on hand, the meeting was held in the safe and neutral surroundings of the Teddington St John Ambulance HQ – and was billed as a lecture and demonstration on First Aid in the home. A likely story. 

In less controversial news, the October Special General Meeting, trailed last month, did vote to change our name to Kingston Liberal Synagogue – which led our Chairman, DD, to quote Proverbs 22:1 (‘A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…’), and Student Rabbi LT to warn against our emulating the builders of the Tower of Babel (whose motive was to ‘make a name for ourselves’ – Genesis 11:4). Sourced quotations from the Bible: whatever next….

Then the difficult work began, in time and money: Nick O organising labour gangs (and ringing every member of the congregation to enlist their help), more than £500 from the Yom Kippur appeal (£500 was £500 in those days…), £200 from the 100 Club, a Women’s Society Jumble and Nearly New Sale (by all accounts, an epic and scary event), and even the KGB Youth Club helping out (who knows what hearing devices may be buried deep in our walls?).

Finally, two mysteries, both from the October 1975 KN, on which I should welcome enlightenment. The first was from P FJ’s ‘C-H-A-T-T-E-R’ column: ‘CHATTER learns that HB read the Haftorah at a service very early in the Congregation’s history. Sorry, H, it was you, and not DD who struck the first blow for men’s lib’.


The second returns us to the murky world of the KGB Youth Club: the Case of the Disappearing Clubhouse. In the October KN, BB reported that ‘Council has very kindly allocated to us [we know who ‘us’ was…] our very own club premises – a suite of rooms which is entirely separate from the Synagogue buildings, but is in the grounds’. It is not surprising that Council wanted it off the Synagogue premises. But did the clubhouse ever happen? Is anyone around to tell the tale? Did the KGB Youth Club manage to erase the historical record?

Please let me know if you can cast light on either mystery.