Last night, we were truly privileged to be the first photography team covering an event at JW3, the new Jewish Community Centre set to open it’s doors to the public later this year. For a few years now, we’ve seen the familiar site of construction work on the Finchley Road in NW3, waiting eagerly to see what will emerge from behind the hoardings.
What has emerged, due to the vision and philanthropy of Dame Vivienne Duffield, is the most exciting new building anglo-Jewry has seen for an extremely long time, a centre that will open its doors to every corner of the Jewish community, and the non-Jewish community too. With an astonishing 1300 events in the opening season, as well as a cinema, lecture theatre, function hall, demonstration kitchen, modern kosher restaurant, nursery, art classes and a dance studio, it’ll be a buzzing hub of activity from the moment it officially opens at the end of September.
The event yesterday was an invite only test event, and the first time that more than about 20 people have been inside this amazing building. It featured a conversation between Dame Vivienne Duffield and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, chaired by Daniel Finkelstein of The Times and occasionally featuring answers from Raymond Simonson, the Chief Executive of JW3 and a man who knows exactly how to blend innovation, Judaism and ‘cool’. We carried out a brief photo-call on the bridge which leads to the reception of the building, the Chief Rabbi spontaneously breaking out into a rendition of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. With community cohesion and harmony at the top of many agendas in London and the UK, we’re sure that JW3 can become that bridge.
It was a truly historic event, which will be talked about in many years time, and it was our pleasure to be involved. Here is a small selection of our favourite images…