• on May 15, 2018

Jewish Community in Darlington Still Alive and Kicking

The Jewish Community in Darlington is still alive and kicking despite mistaken rumours that have been circulated.

One of our valued members recently attended a Rotary Club Presentation in Barnard Castle. It was on ‘The Rise and Fall of the Provincial Jewish Communities in Britain – with a focus on the North-East.’ The Speaker was David Newman OBE, professor of Geopolitics at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. He studied for his Ph.D at the University of Durham between 1979-1982.

During the presentation he gave examples of areas that once upon a time had flourishing Jewish communities here in the North East with their local Synagogues, that have now totally disappeared. The Jewish community in Darlington was given as an example of one that had disappeared.

This Saturday, as well as next Saturday there will be a gathering of Jewish people, in Darlington, under the roof of a synagogue, attending a sabbath service and enjoying the Kiddush after. Testament to the fact that indeed, the Jewish community in Darlington is still alive and kicking, and any reports to the contrary are incorrect.

It would have been correct to say that there is a Jewish community in Darlington, still alive and kicking, hanging on for dear life. Our numbers aren’t great, we aren’t the youngest of congregations by any means, but we are fighting for survival and have no intentions of being another Jewish community to fade away here in the North East.

Maybe this is the wake up call we need. To remind us to increase our efforts in our survival battle. Emails have been sent to the speaker David Newman and the Rotary Club North East. Just assuring them that our Jewish community in Darlington is very much still alive.

This reminds me of a story I once read about the world-famous Alfred Nobel.

I have no doubts you will have heard of the Nobel Prizes awarded to individuals with outstanding accomplishments in science, economics and literature.

There is the Nobel Peace Prize, given to the person who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

But did you know Alfred Novel was the inventor of dynamite.

In 1864, a lab explosion in Stockholm killed Nobel’s younger brother, Emil, and four others.

A French newspaper mistakenly thought Alfred had died and published Alfred Nobel’s obituary by mistake, saying “the merchant of death is dead” & that “he made his fortune by finding a way to kill the most people as ever before in the shortest time possible.” They were referring to him inventing dynamite.

Alfred Nobel, still being alive, became horrified as he read this. He then went on to establish the Nobel Prizes and changed his will to donate most of his fortune to the Nobel Prize foundation.

“At that moment, Nobel realized two things: that this was how he was going to be remembered, and that this was not how he wanted to be remembered.” Rabbi Dov Greenberg

So, it has mistakenly been reported that the Jewish community in Darlington is no more. Let me confirm, Darlington Hebrew Congregation (DHC) Reform Synagogue is very much alive.

To me, and I am sure many others we feel morally responsible to try and do whatever we can to ensure there continues to be a synagogue serving the Jewish community in Darlington, County Durham, Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton and North Yorkshire.

A big thank you to Rosalyn Abrahams, a valued member, and great Granddaughter of one of our founders, who brought this matter to our attention.

To ensure this mistaken message is never made true, what can you do to contribute? Let me know.


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