London Mayor Johnson blows the shofar_311.
(photo credit: jeremy coleman)
LONDON – The eagerly-anticipated new Jewish community center moved a step closer
to completion on Thursday with a ceremony marking the start of building what
will be one of the largest Jewish community centers in Europe.
Mayor Boris Johnson joined guests on Thursday for a formal groundbreaking
ceremony at the site of the Jewish community center building in Hampstead, North
The center is the brainchild of Dame Vivien Duffield, who
was inspired by her visit to similar community centers in the US and has donated
£25 million to realize the project, the largest ever single gift in the history
of the London Jewish community.
“The Jewish community center building has
been designed to be inspirational – a place where Jewish culture is made as well
as enjoyed,” she said. “My aspiration is that the quality of the programming and
cultural output produced at the center will rightly earn it a reputation for
excellence amongst the wider community, establishing itself as a must-visit
destination on the cultural map of London.”
At the ceremony, attended by
over 200 people, Johnson and Duffield ceremonially shoveled earth into the
foundations of the 35,000-square foot state-of-the-art building, set to be
completed in 2013.
With the principle of inclusiveness at its heart, the
center is modeled on the Jewish community centers in cities across America. The
community centers host an array of events and activities for all ages that
invigorate Jewish life and also cater to the local community and other
Speaking at the event, and after blowing the shofar, the mayor
said: “This wonderful building will be a fitting home for London’s Jewish
community, as well as an excellent new center for Londoners of all
“An outstanding example of a community coming together to make
things better for the whole city, this is Team London in action – our own
program to harness thousands of volunteers to improve quality of life in the
capital – and I hope it will inspire other Londoners. What’s more, it’s
being built without a penny of public funds,” he added.
The center will
have a large multipurpose hall and a kosher café and hub, both opening onto a
There will also be a 60-seat screening room, demonstration
kitchen, arts-and-crafts room, rehearsal and dance studios and meeting
A nursery and 14 apartments will also be a part of the center.