All Our Yesterdays

New blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community.

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).

An old copy of Kingston News

Part 1 – August 1967 – 1971

I am taking a stroll through back numbers of Kingston News. In our early, uncomplicated days this was the only regular magazine produced for members of Kingston and District Progressive Jewish Congregation (as we were until November 1975). In future bulletins from the past, I shall focus on an individual month. But for this introduction to KLS time travel I shall wander freely through KN’s first few years.    

To begin at the beginning… The first issue, August 1967, listed a ‘Provisional Committee’ rather than a Council, since (in the words of KN’s editor, the indefatigable PFJ) ‘an election amongst a congregation who hardly knew each other was not considered practical’. The committee included some familiar names, such as Brenda Dombey as Joint Secretary – beginning over 46 years’ service to the community. This issue reported on the first meeting of the Religion School (on Sunday July 2, 1967; 29 children attended); and gave notice of our first service (on Friday, September 8, at Bedelsford School, Kingston; Rabbi SB officiating).

The issue also advertised our first informal party and dance, to be held on September 28: ‘The Women’s Society will be responsible for the catering and tickets will cost half a guinea each’. (An explanation of ‘half a guinea’ is available on request.) Elsewhere on the social front, it was reported that ‘one of our members, Mr. JB, is starring in a new television series – “Never mind the Quality – feel the width” ’, to be filmed at Teddington studios. Members were invited to attend the recordings. (‘There is, incidentally a good pub nearby!’). If you can remember the programme, you’re older than you look.   

And some (literally) random selections to 1971…

Diane in the office may be interested to know that in December 1967, ‘Mesdames D and FJ’ were ‘thirsting to have the full-time services of an electric duplicating machine’.

According to a March 1968 report of a membership survey, ‘over 80 per cent regard a choir as desirable…  Nearly all want to have regular and frequent children’s services, and occasionally would welcome a service of an experimental nature’.

In April 1968, 52 members and others attended our first communal Seder – a figure exceeded only by the 61 who attended a December 1967 Smorrebrod evening.  (The number and variety of social events in our early years were astonishing.)

In February 1971, the Women’s Society sought more Green Shield Stamps for the congregation’s dinner service (an explanation of Green Shield Stamps also available on request).

In November 1971, Young Marrieds Secretary Jill Hyman reported that forty people attended the Young Marrieds’ Wine & Cheese party at M&MS’ house.

And how come we managed to get Aquascutum to place an advertisement in every issue?

To be continued…