Monday 11 March 2013
Rt Hon Tony Blair and Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub officially opened Mill Hill Synagogue’s new Ner Orre Community Centre and The Annie and Samuel Levy Hall
On Sunday 10 March, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair and the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub, joined Lord Levy and Stanley Davis, the incoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Mirvis, Mill Hill’s Rabbi Schochet and members of the Mill Hill Community to officially open the brand new £3.2 million Ner Orre Community Centre and The Annie and Samuel Levy Hall at Mill Hill United Synagogue.
During the afternoon event, Stanley Davis, the principal funder of the new Community Centre, affixed the mezuzah to the front door of the building and Lord Levy affixed the mezuzah to the New Annie and Samuel Levy Hall. The Ner Orre Community centre was built on the site of the Annie and Samuel Levy Hall, originally constructed in the 1950s and named in memory of Lord Levy’s father Samuel in 1975 and then rededicated in 1990 in memory of both Lord Levy’s parents Annie and Samuel.
The Rt Hon Tony Blair spoke at the event. During his remarks, he said “I am here today celebrating the opening of this Community Centre with a profound sense of the honour you have given to me by asking me to be a part of it. And also with a sense of gratitude for what you do here in this community and what the Jewish community and faith represents in the world today.
“On behalf of Cherie and I – I would like to say thank you and mazel tov.
“To Stanley Davis and Lord Levy – thank you. This is a very proud day for you all and I am very proud to be a part of it.”
The idea for the Ner Orre Community Centre was first conceived in 2003. The Mill Hill community has grown substantially over the last 20 years and the previous hall did not meet the demands of the community. There are over 1,000 families who are members at the Shul, over half of whom are under 50. The Shul now has more under 5 year olds then any other United Synagogue Shul. The £3.2m funding for the building was raised personal pledges nearly 300 families. Building work took 13 months start to finish.
The new building will become a hub for the local Jewish community. It contains a function hall that can seat up to 240 for dinner or up to 600 for services and lectures with a state-of-the-art kitchen which will be available for use by caterers under the London Beth Din. In the lower ground level, there is a hall, six classrooms, created by moveable partitions and a youth lounge. These facilities will be available for cheder, children services, youth activities, nursery and many other communal activities.
The creative spelling of ‘Orre’ – typically spelt ‘Ohr’ - in the community centre’s name, forms an acronym of the parents’ names of Rita and Stanley Davis, the project’s keystone donors. It also translates as “the lamp of light” the verse in Proverbs stating “Ki ner mitzvah v’Torah ohr” or “the Mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is the light.”
Michael Goldstein, Chairman of Mill Hill Shul said “I would like to offer a huge thank you to everyone who made the Ner Orre Community Centre possible – and thank you to the Rt Hon Tony Blair and Daniel Taub for officially opening the centre for us. This is a very exciting time for the Mill Hill community and I know the Ner Orre Community Centre will become a hub for local Jewish life.”
Mill Hill’s Rabbi Schochet, said: “This is an exciting time for our community. The commitment and generosity of so many enabled this dream to become reality. It all reflects the incredible community spirit in one of the fastest growing and leading communities in Anglo-Jewry.
Stanley Davis said: “It’s a privilege for my wife Rita and I to have played a part – along with so many others - in the achievement of this wonderful communal project and to have been given the opportunity to honour the memory of our parents in doing so. Our hope is that The Ner Orre Centre will stand as a beacon and will be an inspiration for our vibrant Jewish community not just in Mill Hill but throughout London.”
Lord Levy said: “To be able to come to synagogue every week and hear the names of my dear late parents Annie and Samuel Levy when we refer to the hall is a very special privilege. My parents gave their lives to the community and to Judaism and to have their memory blessed in this way is so special for me, Gilda, and our whole family.”