Tefillah (Prayer) at New London

The Hebrew word Tefillah, means much more than prayer and/or worship. We sometimes call it Avodat HaLev – the work of the heart, we bless, praise, request, occasionaly kvetch (Yiddish: gripe or complain). We also sing, meditate, study, think and socialise a little.

There is both magic and beauty in a traditional service. It is a precious mixture of personal and group prayer and song. At its core, is our attempt to connect with the divine. The Yiddish word for prayer, Daven, comes from the same root as divine. There is a beautiful Midrash (teaching) that says God weaves the letters of the prayers of Israel into a crown around God’s head – It is a part of the Anim Z’mirot hymn – T’hilati, t’hi l’roshcha ateret – May my praises be a crown around Your head.

At New London we like to sing. We blend the traditional choral classics by Lewandowski, Sulzer, Alman and Naumberg with more modern compositons by Shlomo Carlebach, Meir Finkelstein, Debbie Friedman and others as well as compositions created by our member, the composer Julian Dawes, and our current Chazan, Stephen Cotsen.

Our wonderful musical tradition was formed by our Founder Chazan, George Rothschild who led this community with distinction for almost 35 years until his retirement in 1999.

As well as our Chazan we have a growing number of members who regularly lead services, read from the Torah and chant the Haftarah.  It is an important part of our ethos to encourage much greater participation in and leadership of services by our members – especially our younger members following their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  There are often courses and other opportunities to develop skills.  Anyone keen to participate in services is encouraged to contact chazan@newlondon.org.uk.

New London follows the traditional Synagogue service. Prayers are almost exclusively in Hebrew and we meticulously use the correct Nusach, or modes.  We use the Koren/Sacks Siddur and Machzor and both the Hertz and Etz Chayim Chumashim.

In November 2019 the Synagogue membership voted to move to become fully egalitarian. There will be a period of transition until we reach that point, but on most Shabbat and Festival mornings we welcome both women and men equally to read from the Torah and lead services. Seating at the Synagogue offers mixed seating in the centre aisle of the Synagogue and separate seating at the sides and upstairs. Please contact the office if you want to check arrangements for any specific date.

Outside of services we are a community with a rich tradition in music. Daniel Barenboim has played here, we have a number of classical musicians and singers in the community and our annual S’lichot evening is a highlight of the Synagogue year.

To hear more, just come to services. You will be very welcome. If you are coming for the first time, it would be very helpful if you could let the office know you are coming so the security guards will have your name.