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Synagogue Principles and Policy

The Rev. Dr. Harold Reinhart was Minister of Westminster Synagogue from its inception until his death in August, 1969. The ideals to which his life was dedicated and to which the Synagogue is deeply committed are expressed in the following statement of principles and policy, formally adopted by the congregation at its third Annual General Meeting on 19th January 1961 and continues to guide the community and its members.


"Our aim is to create a synagogue which will be an instrument for the pursuit of religious truth.  We would seek for knowledge and charity and piety. We want a congregation that will be a source of encouragement to human progress and of comfort and inspiration to individual men and women. We would be a congregation of interested active members, personally committed to our Synagogue, accepting the responsibility of membership as a challenge to the best in each of us. We regard our membership as a high privilege, and we will not be content with a synagogue which is less than a vehicle of truth."


For the realisation of our aims we deem it essential that our Synagogue should be the centre of a Holy Congregation of men and women, believing in Judaism as a relevant motivating power in their lives. Through the Synagogue we should participate in the life of Jewry as a whole, and in human endeavour in the wider community. ‘We believe that such a synagogue should be a democratic society in which practice and procedure are determined by the members themselves, and we are conscious of a sense of congregational responsibility to interpret courageously our heritage, and to adventure in our religious expression. In our services we strive to give voice to the authentic Jewish tradition expressed in a manner suitable to our times.

Our membership subscription is set at a figure which we consider realistic in the contemporary world, and appropriate for a seriously interested person of moderate means. Members are asked to bear a proper share of the necessary expense of maintaining the Synagogue. Some will be able to pay more, others less. The amount itself is not important – significance lies in the token of seriousness of commitment.

We would avoid commercialisation in our congregational management. While we appreciate the need to direct our affairs in a business-like manner, we are determined that our congregation shall not be conducted as a business, that no services or privileges shall be bought or paid for, and that all members shall have precisely the same rights, duties and responsibilities. We offer our services to all who wish for them, in the belief that the more we give, the more we shall ourselves possess. It may then be asked: if our services are available to all people, why become a member? Our answer is that membership signifies personal participation in a dedicated effort to safeguard our Jewish tradition and serve our Jewish ideal.

We know that a true synagogue is one in which the members participate in congregational prayer and study, and maintain a humane administration. We attest our need for such a synagogue and our will to achieve it.

Wed, 19 June 2024 13 Sivan 5784