All Our Yesterdays – We buy a building!

Part 4 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – Spring 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).

Who remembers the religious quiz show ‘What’s It All About?’? Neither do I. But in the days, when there were just three television channels, it was considered a ratings winner for BBC2. A website called reports that it was hosted at one point by Dana, the Irish Eurovision Song Contest winner, and featured ‘two teams of 3 opposing each other. Two people were from a religious seminary and the third was a celebrity belonging to a similar religion’. How could it fail? I mention all this because in March 1975, according to Kingston News, ‘our STUDENT RABBI, CC, will be a member of one of the teams!’.

The April 1975 issue fails to mention how he performed. But it does report a landmark in the history of KLS. In March, KN had included a bold handwritten page headed: ‘SALE NOW ON! BUY A SYNAGOGUE. Get YOUR offer in NOW while you’ve still the chance!’. In her Editor’s Comment, PFJ suggested that ‘the building we need so badly may literally be just round the corner’. Over the page was a tear-off slip: ‘If the Council finds a suitable property in the next few months, I expect to be able to contribute towards its purchase as follows…’.

Building the Sanctuary after acquiring our own building in 1975

In April, as if by magic, the Council had done so: ‘WE HAVE FOUND A BUILDING WHICH WE ARE SURE WILL BE SUITABLE FOR A SYNAGOGUE, RELIGION SCHOOL AND SOCIAL HALL. IT IS ST. MARY’S SCHOOL RUSHETT ROAD’. Praising its ‘pleasant site, with room for car parking’, Council calculated ‘that if each member family donated not less than £100, or, if possible, £150, we should have enough to close the deal’. More to follow on this unfolding story.

KN shows that our inter-faith work, so actively led by Charley and Fleur, has long been central to KLS. The March 1975 issue reported that ‘we probably made history on Friday, February 14, when more than 30 Moslems from the London Mosque at Putney, led by their Imam, attended our Sabbath evening service’ and included an eloquent plea to take whatever steps we can to combat religious intolerance.

In other news, the March 1975 KN reported a footballing triumph, with the KLS  soccer team (where are they now?) winning the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues’ League Championship (where is it now?), though ‘we are still trying to work out how we won the match against Finchley’.

March and April 1975 featured some baffling mixing and separation of genders. In April the Women’s Society held a Special to which ‘Everyone is invited to bring their husbands’; while March saw the Young Marrieds’ Ladies’ Night (what?), held at the Surbiton Lagoon (please refer to local residents of long-standing for details of the Lagoon).

And Aquascutum (not to mention the BeeBee chain of dry cleaners) were still advertising in KN.