Induction: Chairman’s Welcome

Chairman’s Welcome

Rabbi Samuel Landau’s Induction, 29 September 2014

By Martin Wolfson, Chairman, KSDS

As chairman of Kingston, Surbiton and District Synagogue, I am delighted to welcome all our guests and members on the auspicious occasion of the induction of Rabbi Samuel David Landau. May I particularly welcome the rabbi and Shoshana’s families. especially his grandma, who has flown in from Netanya. This is a special day both for all of them and for us as his first community.

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I am also delighted to welcome Stephen Pack, President of the United Synagogue. Due to an administrative hiccough, he was unaware of today’s event until he learnt of Rabbi Mirvis’ indisposition on Friday and has changed his plans only this morning to be with us. May I congratulate him on being re-elected unopposed for another term.

The same thing happened to me as Chairman of this synagogue only a few weeks ago. Something about only fools…where more sensible people fear to tread? I would like to thank Keith Mann and his band of helpers. So many people have contributed to this event that it would be foolish and divisive to try to name them. I would just like to say a really huge thank you to you, you and you for helping to make today such a success and an enjoyable occasion!

I am really sad that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was taken ill suddenly on Friday and is unable to be with us today. I and many others were delighted when he was appointed Chief Rabbi. None of us doubt the challenges of this position, but he has continued to enthuse and motivate us, providing new insights for the whole Jewish Community in general and the Orthodox Jewish community in particular.

Dayan Gelley has kindly stepped in at the eleventh hour. We really do appreciate you making the time to be with us. Dayan Gelley trained as a Dayan at Batei Din in the United States and Israel and joined the London Beth Din in 1993. He has lectured extensively on Jewish law. He is head of the United Synagogue Beth Din. Thank you Dayan Gelley.

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Now for the Landaus. When Rabbi Landau applied to lead our community we were truly delighted. The community had met him on a number of occasions and appreciated that he was just the young dynamic rabbi that this community needed. He and Shoshana came to us with a novel proposal to work for us as a job share to allow him complete his BSc in psychology. He has just completed this and it was no surprise to us that he earned a first class degree. So well did he pass that he has been specially nominated to the Dean’s list.

Although this is an induction, the Landaus have already been here for eleven months. This allows me to speak of them with more knowledge than I might otherwise have. Since arriving here Rabbi Landau has not disappointed us. He has proved an inspirational leader. He has truly beautified our services. He is also a master of organisation, multitasking, IT, original thought, Jewish knowledge and public speaking. I often struggle to keep up with his plans, thought processes and ideas.

He has helped attract many new members into the community. He has proved that though a young man, he is wise beyond his years. His sermons are amusing, educational, thought provoking and, at times, controversial. He has let the community know that he once had thespian ambitions and this often shows when he is speaking from the pulpit. We may see evidence of this later.

Shoshana has also proved a fountain of new ideas, energy and enterprise. She works tirelessly for the community. Her entertaining is legendary. She instituted a Rosh Chodesh group which attracts up to 40 women each month. She has taken charge of many of our school visits, where she has so inspired the children, that some have asked if she was the rabbi! She has also had a tremendous input into our cheder. Since joining us, the rabbi and Shoshana have been blessed with their lovely baby girl, Yiska.

Yiska is already doing her bit and has catalysed the start of Shoshana’s Mother and Baby Group. You may feel that this is all a bit gushing and improbable. I can assure you that, for me at least, it is all true. I do not pretend that the rabbi is perfect but it would be small of me to mention any faults here today.

I meet with him nearly every week and really enjoy our chats together. These meetings are something that I actively look forward to. It is a complicated relationship. I am his Chairman, and occasional odd job man, but he is my teacher and most of all we are also friends. May I finish by saying how truly blessed we are to have the rabbi and Shoshana to guide, lead and mentor this community.


An album of photographs of Rabbi Landau’s induction is available via the Photo Gallery page.