Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue formally celebrated the induction of their new Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer on 24 February 2008. Rabbi Brawer with his wife Dina and their four children moved to Borehamwood in August to take up his position as spiritual leader of one of the youngest, largest and fastest growing communities in the country.
The ceremony was a radical departure from the standard induction service. Rabbi Brawer and Dina insisted that it be a celebration of the community's achievements instead of narrowly focusing on the installation of the new rabbi.
In addition to Mincha and the traditional address by the Chief Rabbi the programme consisted of relevant readings from representatives of a wide cross section of the community. The audience were entertained by the Hertsmere Jewish Primary School choir as well as by three young talented clarinettists from the community. Yavneh College performed a sketch based on a mishnah and various pieces of music were played throughout the ceremony.
The Chief Rabbi praised the vibrancy of the Borehamwood and Elstree community and extolled the virtues of its new rabbi. He said that according to Rashi the root of the rabbi's first name Naftali means to connect. "This" he said "reflects Rabbi Brawer's ability to connect with people in a deep and meaningful way."
Rabbi Brawer thanked his new community for their warmth and enthusiasm and said that he never felt as alive and fulfilled as he has since becoming its rabbi. He also thanked his previous community, Northwood, which he led for the past eleven years. He was particularly grateful for the grace and goodwill they showed when he announced that he would be leaving them.
Rabbi Brawer used his address to articulate his vision for the community. One of his themes was the importance of serious Torah study. He also said he was concerned by a narrowing of the mind in certain Orthodox circles where secular study is frowned upon. "True wisdom" he said "must combine Torah with the best of secular knowledge." He also spoke of the importance of instilling passion into religious life.
The Chief Rabbi, Rabbi and Dina Brawer and the Honarary Officers of BES