London’s Jewish community buries time capsule

Philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield donates £25 million to fund construction of new Hampstead center.

March 7, 2013 05:27
2 minute read.
Time capsule buried by British Jewish community

Time capsule 370. (photo credit: JW3)


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LONDON – The British capital’s new Jewish community center buried a time capsule on Wednesday on the site of its purpose- built building to give the next generation a glimpse of how London Jews went about their lives in 2013.

The time capsule was buried in the piazza floor at the state-of-the-art building – known as JW3, and located in Hampstead, northwest London – which is nearing completion and will be one of the largest Jewish community centers in Europe when it opens in September.

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The capsule will be opened in 2113.

“We’re here to provide our descendants, 100 years hence, with an insight into what makes this community tick, how and why we identify as Jews, and what motivated us to build this magnificent complex,” said Sir Trevor Chinn, a JW3 board member.

Among the items placed into the time capsule, which will tell the story of Jewish life in our times, were the hundreds of responses to JW3’s Jewish identity project – in which individuals responded to the question, “What does being Jewish mean to you?”

There is also: winning art work from a competition for high school children – asking them to express their answer to the same question pictorially; the speech delivered by Prince Charles at the 250th anniversary of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; a Holocaust memoir from survivor Ben Helfgott; and a parchment scroll bearing the simple inscription “Shalom,” and signed by the religious leaders of the main branches of Judaism represented in London.

The time capsule has an embossed lid at each end, one inscribed with the Hebrew and secular date and the other bearing the celebrated quote from Theodore Herzl’s Altneuland, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

The project is the brainchild of philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield, who was inspired by her visit to the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and donated £25 million (about $38m.) to realize the project. Her Clore Duffield Foundation initiated the £50m. (over $75m.) project in 2003, and is the project’s major funder.

With the principle of inclusiveness at its heart, the center is modeled on the Jewish community centers in the US where an array of events and activities for all ages that invigorate Jewish life are on offer, also catering to the local community and other faiths.

Amenities at JW3 will include: a 60-seat screening room; a kosher café, bar and restaurant; a multi-purpose hall for functions and performances; an arts and craft studio; dance and rehearsal rooms; meeting rooms; a demonstration kitchen; and a nursery providing 85 places.

“The Jewish community center building has been designed to be inspirational – a place where Jewish culture is made as well as enjoyed,” Duffield said. “My aspiration is that the quality of the programing and cultural output produced at the center will earn it a reputation for excellence among the wider community, establishing itself as a must-visit destination on the cultural map of London.”

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