Community’s key for Shmuli
- Credit: Graeme Lewis
It will be homecoming for Rabbi Shmuli Sagal as he starts life at the helm of Shomrei Hadath Synagogue in Fortune Green.
The 28-year-old joins the synagogue in Burrard Road after two years at Surrey’s Sutton and District Synagogue.
His experiences growing up in a Jewish community in Finchley shaped his outlook, and encouraged him to become ordained.
He said: “It was a process. I grew up in a home where Judaism is very much cherished and valued. My parents, in some capacity, were Jewish educators and we have a sense of caring about the Jewish community and Jewish people.”
Shmuli has two degrees from the prestigious Jewish university in New York, Yeshiva University. He also has a law degree from BPP.
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This experience also edged him closer to taking his religious training, which he later got from Yeshiva’s ordination school.
“I had originally planned to be a lawyer, but being in America where there is a large orthodox Jewish community, I saw friends and mentors doing work to help people across America,” he said.
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The new rabbi says the parts of the job he enjoys the most are interacting with people – and being there for them at crucial times.
“You’re with people at poignant moments in their life,” he said, “whether happy or sad. You touch their lives in different ways, whether increasing their joy or helping their pain.”
Shromrei Hadath opened its Burrard Road synagogue in 1989, having been established in 1946.
The new rabbi said he would be working for the whole community in West Hampstead rather than just its Jewish members.
“It’s definitely something I do, and did when I was in Sutton,” he told the Ham&High.
“When we were there we would have schools come in, young people, people from churches and imams in training visiting. We also used to run a soup kitchen.
“We need to do work on social action. At some point, lots of Jewish people in the community have an experience of being at the lowest point in the economic status.”
The rabbi, who is married with a two-year-old daughter, told us he was “excited” about joining the synagogue.
Shmuli will be holding his first Shabbat service at Shomrei Hadath tomorrow (Fri).