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North West Surrey Synagogue says farewell to Rabbi Jackie Tabick


On a beautiful summer weekend, North West Surrey Synagogue members eschewed basking in their gardens or watching Wimbledon to join in a two-day farewell party for Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Britain's first female rabbi.

Rabbi Jackie TabickIt began on Saturday, July 6 with a special service. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the Movement Rabbi for the Movement for Reform Judaism delivered the sermon.

Rabbi Janner-Klausner said: "Rabbi Jackie Tabick is a role model to other rabbis, being knowledgeable and passionate about Judaism and the Jewish people. She is my role model of a rabbi, a teacher who embodies b'chol levavecha, u'vechol nafshecha u'v'chol meodecha (with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might) and of course does all this v'ahavta, with love."

NWSS Chairman Ann Antrich read the study passage, choosing Rabbi Jackie’s contribution to the book  'I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl'.

"The ultimate goal of Judaism is not to ensure than we have Jewish grandchildren, though that would be nice!  It is not even to give meaning to our lives, though that can be a more than acceptable by-product. Judaism has a wider goal, to make the world into the sort of place we feel God had in mind when the divine creative act took place. Just thinking about God has little or no effect on our world. It is only if we act, if we try to carry out what God wants of us, that the existence of God has meaning and reality".

We are taught that the Torah is a tree of life, and it is, but only to those who take hold of it. The teachings contained in our tradition challenge us to carry out our responsibility to God by accepting our messianic obligations. Then we can be true partners with God in the work of creation and help bring about a world of justice, truth, and peace, and along the way find purpose, meaning, and joy in remaining Jewish".

The highlight of the first day of festivities was a play about Rabbi Jackie’s life: 'Past, Present and Future Expectations' written by Lawrence Smith and performed by synagogue members. The second day's highlight was the Siyyum Lasefer, the celebration of the synagogue’s Klatovy Torah scroll.

In 1942 the Jewish population of Klatovy, Czech Republic, was deported. The Prague Jewish Museum managed to obtain the ritual objects, including Torah scrolls, from Klatovy and other doomed Jewish communities. After the war, 1,564 scrolls were brought to London to be restored and distributed to synagogues worldwide.

Klatovy was home to the family of NWSS Vice-President Tom Barth. Thanks to his efforts, North West Surrey Synagogue acquired a Klatovy scroll in 2004. It was in regular use until 2004, when it was sent for a long period of repair by Soferet Avielah Barclay.

After the final letter was inscribed and the Torah returned to the Ark, Rabbi Jackie presented the end-of-year certificates to the Cheder children.

The Rabbi was presented with presents too, including calligraphy implements and ink, and a memory book of her time at NWSS.

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