History of the David Ishag Synagogue, Neveh Shalom Community
The David Ishag Synagogue’s first temporary premises were opened in 1970. The Community has been mainly formed from Sephardi families who escaped persecution in the Middle East. Members come from Africa including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and the Sudan, from the Middle East including Turkey, Iraq and Aden as well as from India. A number of members have joined from the United Synagogue and the Spanish and Portuguese Communities. Although the members are from many diverse backgrounds, Neveh Shalom is an independent community working as one enlarged family, who come together to pray, celebrate happy events and support each other on sad occasions.
On 11 January 1970, a meeting was held in the home of Rabbi Dr. and Mrs. Kamhi. In attendance were Rabbi Dr. David Kamhi and Messrs Cesar Benson, Abe Cohen, Ezra Dwek, Bernie Ereira, Ezra Meallem, Yousef Rasouly, David Sullam, Victor Tamam and Youssef Wahba. It was decided that a place of worship should be established in the Wembley area, to practice the Sephardic minhag. A few days later, the late Mr. Joseph Peppo Levy, who became the first President and Mr. David Sinigalia joined the congregation together with Mr. Zaki Ishag, the late Mr. Victor Lagnado and his son Mayer. The late Mr. Maurice Tamman became the Vice President, the late Mr. Bernie Ereira became the Secretary and the late Mr. David Sullam became the Treasurer.
Initially, services were held in private homes but were very soon moved to a Scout hut in Shaftesbury Avenue. As the community expanded the need for a permanent Synagogue became vital. All the members worked together to find new premises. Zaki Ishag approached his brothers Eddie and Saleh who, with other members of their family, financed the purchase, conversion and furnishing of 27 Windermere Avenue, into which the Community moved in June 1971. The Synagogue was named after their father and has been known ever since as the David Ishag Synagogue. During the period of conversion the Rev. Zvi Amroussi joined the Community and has been the Hazan ever since. Rabbi Dr. David Kamhi, and Mr. Peppo Levy who both died in 1979, founded the principles on which the Synagogue has flourished.
By 1982, the Community had out-grown Windermere Avenue. Once again, the Community tried to find new premises. Eventually, 352/354 Preston Road, Wembley was purchased and converted into a synagogue.. The Service of Dedication was held on 1 May 1983. The Community continued to grow and the Synagogue was extended in three further stages. The Gentely Hall was constructed along the length of the main prayer room and the frontages were joined to provide a Kiddush room/ entrance hall.
In 1990, the Synagogue was reconstructed with the Hechal backing on to the garden. This considerably increased the seating capacity. On completion, the newly enlarged Synagogue was re-dedicated on 17 June 1990. The Community has continued to attract new members. Synagogue services are well attended with Rabbi Dr. Irving Jacobs giving sermons and Rabbi Dr. Sidney Leperer having held regular shiurim until his death. Currently there are social events, a friendship club called Neveh Shalom Club and shiurim. There have been numerous Barmitzvahs, Batmitzvahs and 33 weddings to 2014.
Over the past several years, there have been many changes to the interior of the Synagogue. Donations have been received of red upholstered velvet chairs for the entire Synagogue, beautiful crystal chandeliers, numerous books for the library and a solid mahogany Tevah. A new extension was built, including the Julia and Elie Fiss Library and a new kitchen and the hall named after Mr. Leon Tamman was constructed. A first floor Victor Saleh hall was formed in 2008 with an overhead projector, enhanced facilities and a synagogue office. Mr. Joe Hazan has been the Synagogue’s architect since 1982 and provided innovatory designs to produce the beautiful building from two houses that is the Synagogue today. In the near future the possibility of further refurbishment works are under discussion.
Since moving into Preston Road, the Presidents have been Mr. Leon Cohen, Mr. Albert Cohen and Mr. Jacob Levy. The present President is Mr. David Rasouly. Approximately 150 families are members of the Neveh Shalom Community and are represented on the Board of Deputies of British Jews and conduct weddings, both religious and civil ceremonies.