Community in Focus: Wembley
Following is the latest in a series about various S&P communities around the world, written by Yoel Pimentel, a member of the London Sephardi community.
Nestled in the leafy North West London suburb of Wembley is perhaps one of the lesser known Spanish and Portuguese communities -- but well worth knowing! During the 1920s and 1930s, increasing development in outer London led to areas such as Wembley and nearby Harrow to become completely built up and the Metropolitan tube line offered a fast service into Central London from these places. As Jews moved in large numbers from the impoverished East End of London and out to London's suburbs, many chose to live in Wembley, a short journey from the more well-known Jewish areas of Golders Green and Hendon. Wembley also attracted a number of Sephardim moving further North from established communities in Maida Vale and St.Johns Wood, seeking more affordable and spacious homes. The original S&P community in Wembley was in temporary premises, using a Church Hall in East Lane before establishing a Synagogue, an old people's home and apartments for the over 55's on the current site at 46 Forty Avenue, which was open by the 1970's. A number of Egyptian Jews were involved in the founding of the new S&P community, and many Iraqi Jews became and remain loyal members. The community was served for most of its history by Dayan Pinchas Toledano who retired from his position and was replaced by Dayan Kada in 2014. After seven years of serving the community, Dayan Kada was succeeded by Rabbi Jeffrey Berger, one of the founding members of Rambam Sephardi in Borehamwood. The Wembley community was also served for many years by the late Rev. Yossi Houri. Today, Wembley, Harrow and other North West London Suburbs are suffering a loss of members as the Jewish community moves further out of London and into the counties beyond the city borders. Despite having significantly lower numbers than it did in its early decades, Wembley still retains a dedicated and loyal membership who host services each Shabbat morning, on all Jewish holidays and shared services with another local Synagogue on Friday evenings. The building also sits a short distance away from both the world-famous Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena and is close to a wide selection of hotels and retail outlets, making it a prime place for visitors to come when visiting London and for those who want to attend Sephardi services on the major holidays. Several Jewish schools are in the area as well as a Kosher Bakery, and Wembley may see a Jewish revival. Wembley Park is also served by two major London underground lines, taking commuters into Central London in minutes and directly to places such as Baker Street and Kings Cross St.Pancras. If people are interested in visiting or Shabbat hospitality or would like to join the community's email list, please contact them via the website below. Service times and information about events are also available from the UK S&P's weekly emails.
The Synagogue's official website: