20th Anniversary

23rd March 2019

Twenty years ago, on Shabbat Ha Gadol, the Sephardi Services began in Bournemouth. The amazing thing is that twenty years ago the date was also the 23rd of March and Parashat Hashavua was also Parashat Tzav!

It all started with a meeting between David Kalfon and Simon Tammam at an event in the Menorah Suite, Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation. With Larry Kaye, the then President of Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation, giving David and Simon the ‘go ahead’ The Bournemouth Sephardi Association was born and the rest is history.

The two, were the pioneers, driving the idea at first with the late Alfie Boyle z”l & Jack Valencia joining a week later; Aviran Reuven joined after six months as our Hazan. Recent years saw other key players in our Minyan; Meir Cohen & Chaim Faibish.

The past twenty years were simply magnificent with so many people contributing in so many ways over the years; Dayan Toledano, Rabbi Shlomo David of Israel, Chazan Ellis David, Rabbi Mino Labi of Holland Park Synagogue, Hannah & Faelino Luzon, the late Louis Greenblat z”l, The Gozlan family, the Abargil family, the Igla family, Mordechai Bitton, the late Haim Avisar z”l, Maurice Bitton, Lynn Boland, Phil and Howard Fishman, Michelle & David Perry, Ruth & Richard Saunders, the late Raye & David Sopher z”l, Michele & Mark Sopher, Carol & Rick Sopher, Edward Sopher, Rachel Sopher, Max Dias, Lucy & Ran Avisar, Jenny & Jonathan Lamsky, Ilana & Michael Goldberger, Jonathan Kaye, Ghally Genah and many more.

Bournemouth Sephardi Association’s biggest thank you goes no doubt to the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation (BHC). Thanks to BHC’s past and present Rabbis, Presidents and executives enabling the Bournemouth Sephardi Association to use what is now, The Bournemouth Sephardi Association’s home, the Gertrude Preston Hall, FREE OF CHARGE. This has provided the Bournemouth Sephardi Association with a great stage to continue its customs and traditions in such a comfortable way.

Behind every successful religious organisation there is a spiritual leader and no doubt Dayan Toledano is the one who the Bournemouth Sephardi Association turns to get their inspiration from. Apart from being a listening ear and an advisor Dayan Toledano is continuously being a great supporter and a great friend to the Bournemouth Sephardi Association.

In the early days, there was very little available to the Bournemouth Sephardi Association. They started with just monthly Shabbat services, often on Shabbat Mevarechim. But thanks to all the support over the years they managed to acquire three Siphrei Torah, Sepher Haftarot, Sidurim, Humashim, Mahzorim and more! This enabled the Bournemouth Sephardi Association to develop, grow and provide Sephardi Services over the Hagim, and more often, during the summer tourist period.

The last 16 years saw the Bournmeouth Sephardi Association’s very popular Rosh Hashanah & Motsei Yom Kippur communal meals well supported by all involved with the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation, annually raising money for different charities.

Over the years, the Bournemouth Sephardi Association has arranged a number of Bar Mitzvahs and special occasions (many more S’mahot, please G-D).

Apart from this weekend our most special Simhah to date was Hachnassat Sepher Torah, led by Rabbi Mino Labi, of Holland Park synagogue. It took place in the main prayer hall of the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation with hundreds of people attending from all over of the UK.

So…..What a weekend the Bournemouth Jewish community just had!!!

This weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the Bournemouth Sephardi Association and to mark this occasion a wonderful weekend was organised.

The Bournemouth Sephardi Association is very grateful to Rabbi Jesner for all his support and encouragement. Allowing them to bring their Sephardi flavours not only to the dinner table but also to the Shabbat morning service.

Sincere thanks also go to President Mahir Ozdamar, the Executive and Reverend Barry Sklan for all their support and hard work.

It all started with very well attended Sephardi Minha & Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday evening. The services were led by Dayan Toledano, Rabbi Mino Labi of Holland Park Synagogue and Aviran Reuven. The services were followed by a lovely four course Sephardi dinner for about 90 guests, many of them from out of town who made the journey to Bournemouth in order to participate in this important occasion. The atmosphere over dinner was warm and full of singing and chanting as per the Sephardi tradition.

The Shabbat morning service was a combined Ashkenazi & Sephardi service in the main prayer hall of the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation. The service was led by Rabbi Mino Labi and Aviran Reuven. The synagogue was packed and the service was very engaging. After Aviran’s beautiful layening, Rabbi Jesner invited Dayan Toledano to give the Dvar Torah which was excellent and will be remembered by those present for a long time to come.

After the service there was a kiddush-lunch for all present. Many commented that they had never seen so much food in their life. The quality and the variety of the Sephardi food was AMAZING!!  This continued at the Seudah Shilishit.

At his speech during the Kiddush, President Mahir Ozdamar, announced that the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation has donated a leaf on the Tree of Life to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Bournemouth Sephardi Association.

On Sunday morning we all davened together and after the service there was a delicious Israeli style cooked breakfast in the Menorah Suite attended by about 30 people. Once again, the food was  outstanding and the Shakshukah, salads and Harif really hit the spot.

It was a great way to wrap up such a wonderful and special weekend and we look forward to celebrating many more S’machot together in the future.



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