On Sunday 13th May 2012, I was privileged to attend the last service at Blackpool United Hebrew Congregation.
The number of Orthodox Jews in Blackpool has dwindled in recent years and the building has been sold, with the members moving to the St. Anne’s Shul a few miles away.
The Tax/FeBland families were well represented and my brother and most of my cousins were there. The choir was led by an old family friend, the Reverend Stephen Robins ARCM who grew up in St Anne’s. I felt it very fitting that he was there to say goodbye to the old Shul. At first it was exciting, meeting up with friends I had not seen in years, taking pictures of memorial plaques. One marble slab built above the men’s entrance to the Shul and dedicated by my grandfather Ben Tax is to be moved to the Tahara House alongside an earlier gift of washing facilities.
I found my eyes watering when a speaker referred to Nathan Scheff. He was a wonderful man and all the children, including myself, loved him dearly. There would always be shiny new half crowns for Chanukah, he would treat us at Purim and Succoth and when we had to build an extension to house the massive congregation, Mr Scheff personally opened a hall dedicated in his name. (1955) It was a sad day the day thieves broke into his shop and brutally beat him. The community was bereft.
There were lots of speeches and to be honest my mind was more on the beauty of the building and what a sad occasion it was. Those amazing windows ablaze with colour, the balcony where the ladies sat looking down on the Bimma, the beautiful ark in its festive white, the Bimma with the Minister and the wonderful singing from the Choir. I could not help but wonder that this Shul which was about to be deconsecrated was filled with so many people who had turned out in their finery for Reflection, Reunion and Commemoration.I was however unprepared for the rush of emotion that came over me as the beautiful Sefer Torot were paraded round the Shul, only to disappear and leave a big empty cavity that was once the ark and their home for 114 years.
Jimmy and I were so moved to be part of this amazing shul. We prayed for the past elders of our family and remembered them all with love.
Submitted by Bess Robertson nee Tax.