Paul and Hanns reading from the Alexander Torah, 2001
As they grew older, Hanns (right) and Paul (left) began to spend more time at the synagogue that their family had helped to found. From the start, the Alexander Torah was the synagogue’s first and most important asset.
Alexander Family Archive
As he grew older, Hanns began to spend more time at the synagogue that his family had helped to found. Housed at first in a series of temporary accommodations – the dining room of the boarding house, then a hall borrowed from another congregation – the synagogue finally found a permanent home in the vicarage of an old church in Belsize Square in north-west London. From the start, the Alexander Torah was the synagogue’s first and most important asset. Later there would be other scrolls, but for years the Alexander Torah was the congregation’s workhorse, brought out for every Friday-evening and Saturday-morning service, for the High Holy Days and all the other religious events. Hanns and Paul were to become the unofficial caretakers of the synagogue. For the next forty years, first in top hats and tails, and later in blue pinstriped suits, they attended every religious event, making sure that the services had been well prepared, that the tables had been set up, that glasses were filled, and that prayer books and shawls were in the right place. Though they continued to play pranks and tell inappropriate jokes, much to the joy of the many children in their lives, they became a mainstay – perhaps even the mainstay – of this progressive and social community.
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