All our yesterdays – the Summer of ’76

Part 10 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – Summer 1976.

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).

There was an atmosphere of both celebration and retrospection at KLS in the long, hot summer of 1976. In the April Kingston News, D//d wrote, ahead of the May consecration service of the new synagogue building, ‘we can be proud that, in our short history, we have already earned a reputation which enables us to stand alongside Synagogues with many decades of achievement’. The service, incidentally, was attended by more than 250.

The same month, at the close of her period as Chairman (sic), FM looked back at two years in the history of the Women’s Society, highlighting among its notable events the fact that members of the society carried the Torah in its annual services in both 1975 and 1976 (highly, if bizarrely, controversial…….)

The June issue reported the first confirmations in the new building, and the largest mass confirmation in KLS’s history. (Come on – you know who you were/are.)

And in the July/August issue, which was the hundredth KN, PF-J looked back to its beginnings – eight pages, issued to a waiting world in August 1967. She reported that our membership had nearly doubled over the intervening nine years (from what to what – does anyone know?); that the first KN had rightly prophesied that the Women’s Society ‘would be the most active and best organised group’; but that it had failed to predict the Rise of the Young Marrieds.

I can also reveal the answer to a KLS quiz question: when was the NF-J Hall so named? It was a Council decision announced at a Special General Meeting in June 1976, recognising all N had done towards converting the old school to the new KLS. The same meeting made changes to the constitution relating to – yes! – the Young Marrieds. Their decision that ‘young’ stopped at 33 was given permanent constitutional effect. But further changes were also suggested – that the group ‘be open to single people, as well as single parents, engaged and married couples’. And the Young Marrieds’ Chairman, GG, ‘promised to ask his Group to consider changing its name to cover single people’. The outcome? Watch this space.

Meanwhile, in a spooky pre-echo of our April 2014 AGM, this June 1976 SGM gave  Council discretion to raise 1977 subscription levels by up to £5 without the need for a further SGM, depending on how well fundraising had gone in the meantime: acquiring and fitting out the building had left KLS in substantial debt.

This was a bumper issue in terms of advertising, too (and not just because both the Women’s Society and the Young Marrieds took out full-page ads). We were wooed by – among others – mortgage brokers (do they still exist?), caterers, ‘Timeg fashion overalls’ (offering ‘high fashion front desk uniforms’ – surely an obvious investment for Sandra Levene on High Holydays), and something (and someone) called ‘Panic Services (Trevor Money)… by appointment to Kingston Liberal Synagogue’.   

A rich tapestry of life indeed…