Who are we
The Liberal Synagogue Elstree (TLSE) is a Liberal congregation, a constituent of the Liberal Judaism movement. TLSE embraces all of our members’ diverse backgrounds and Jewish traditions. Our congregation is committed to welcoming a diversity of family structures. We are dedicated to Judaism’s three-fold foundation of worship, study, and acts of loving kindness, "to meet, to study and to pray", and to to foster a strong sense of community through the generations.
Our congregation was founded in 1969 as the Stanmore Liberal Jewish Congregation. Meeting in local halls and homes, the original nucleus of 30 families grew rapidly. With the shift of the local Jewish population services became centred on the Elstree area and in 1977 the name was changed to Hertsmere to reflect this. The congregation then acquired the present Grade II listed building, a semi-derelict former village school, which was transformed by members working evenings and weekends to create the flexible synagogue, school and community centre we have today.
In 1993 we adopted a new Hebrew name - Ateret Tzvi, the Crown of Glory. The name captures our local connection, with Tzvi meaning hart or deer in Hebrew, which relates to the symbol of a deer used throughout Hertsmere. Our silverware, specially commissioned, bears the Hebrew name of the congregation.
From September 2004 we became The Liberal Synagogue Elstree, and are known by our initials "TLSE" to all our members and friends.
To be a Jew is to be the inheritor of a religious and cultural tradition.
To be a practising Jew is to accept with love and pride the duty to maintain and transmit that tradition.
To be a practising Liberal Jew in the twenty-first century is to believe that tradition should be transmitted within the framework of modern thinking and morality; it is to live according to the prophetic ideal of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
The Liberal Jewish movement was founded in 1902 by Jews committed to ensuring the continuity of Jewish faith, tradition, practice and ethics within a contemporary framework. They worked unsparingly to re-instil Judaism in the hearts of sceptical Jews through services, public meetings, sermons, writings and inspirational leadership.
Now after 120 years Liberal Judaism, through over 30 communities, continues to uphold and work for the aims and ideals of its founders, and to benefit from the contributions of countless Jews who have been attracted to Liberal Judaism and continue to find in it a dynamic modern faith and way of life that are rooted in Jewish tradition.
Our Czech scroll
The story of the rescue of 1,564 Czech Scrolls by Westminster Synagogue in 1964 has passed into history as a small but remarkable episode in the tragedy of European Jewry. After restoration many have been distributed to new communities around the world.
Our synagogue was allocated a torah scroll from Pardubice, a city in eastern Bohemia lying around 90km east of Prague in the Czech Republic. Jews were first mentioned in the town in 1492. In 1880, when the synagogue was consecrated, the Jewish population was close to 400. In 1930, there were over 500 Jews in the town. The synagogue was closed down by the Nazis in October 1942, and by the end of that year, all the Jews had been deported to Theresienstadt.
In 1990 TLSE (then HPS) hosted a visit by the Chairman of the recently established Progressive Jewish Synagogue in Pardubice. On the shul’s group tour to Israel in 1994, organised by Rabbi Jonathan Black, we visited the Valley of the Lost Communities of Europe in Yad Vashem where we recited Kaddish in front of the stone memorial to Pardubice.