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Reform Jewish Master of City Livery Company

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Peter Holt, a member and former chairman of Maidenhead Synagogue was installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners in a candle-lit ceremony on April 28th. Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain gave the sermon at the service which was held at Bevis Marks, the Spanish and Portuguese Orthodox synagogue in the City of London.

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain, Peter Holt and Rabbi Martin van den BerghThis was the first time this Company had held its Installation service in a synagogue. The Lord Mayor, the Rt. Hon Michael Bear opened the Ark together with Peter Holt, Stephen Sommer and Laurence Joseph.

Peter Holt has been active in the cleaning industry for over 45 years, and has been involved with The City Livery movement for the past 20.

The service was led by Bevis Marks' minister, Rabbi Martin Van den Bergh, with Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead Synagogue giving a sermon, surveying the Jewish contribution to public life from Sir Isaiah Berlin to Amy Winehouse. His list included the current Lord Mayor, Michael Bear.

Peter explains that "the service of installation for the Environmental Cleaners of a new master traditionally takes place in St Olave's Church in the City. When I expressed a wish not be installed in a church, I was actively encouraged by the court of my Company to have my service in a synagogue with the one condition that it must be in 'the Square Mile'. Bevis Marks, as the only candidate, were extremely encouraging and facilitated every element of this ceremony and were delighted to have Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain take an active part in the proceedings."

The service was followed by a banquet at Mansion House attended by The Lord Mayor, The Sheriffs and other leading dignitaries.

The Livery Movement in The City of London The livery company – or guild – tradition stretches back nearly 700 years. Some of the older UK livery companies include the Mercers (1394), the Merchant Taylors (1327) and the Grocers (1428); newer arrivals include the Environmental Cleaners,(97th in order of precedence) , founded as a guild in 1972. This year they celebrate their 25th anniversary of becoming a full livery company. In 2010 they were awarded their royal charter.

The Jewish connection with the City of London is a long one, going back to Oliver Cromwell allowing the Jews back into the country in 1656. Without this action, it could be argued, London would not have become the financial and insurance capital of the world that it is today.

There have been ten Jewish Lord Mayors, including the current incumbent Michael Bear. It was only two years ago, that the Rt. Hon. Ian Luder was Lord Mayor supported by his chaplain Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield. There continue to be many Jewish masters of livery companies.

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