The first open day was held by Milton Keynes and District Reform Synagogue to mark its 40th anniversary with the community.
The free event attracted people of all faiths from across Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas, and more than 200 visitors joined the celebrations at the Synagogue building in Giffard Park on Sunday, July 1.
Many people had never been in a synagogue before and were curious to learn more about Judaism, and others were Jewish families who hadn’t realised that there was a synagogue in the city.
The Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Martin Petchey, joined the celebrations and cut a 40th anniversary cake.
Guests were treated to a skit performed by the younger synagogue children, Hebrew songs sung by the MKDRS Choir and a play written and performed by some of the teenagers, ‘The service that goes wrong’. To round off the day, Crossroots, a 5-piece band led by member Andy Gilbert, got people dancing.
Throughout the day members were on hand to show visitors the Torah Scroll which contains the entire text of the Five Books of Moses. Displays provided information on Judaism and Jewish holidays and the history and activities of the Synagogue.
The Reading Group gave away used books in return for a donation and raised over £80, which will be split equally between Willen Hospice and the East Anglia Air Ambulance.
Priscilla Dorrance, chair of MKDRS said: “The open day exceeded all our expectations. From the moment we opened our doors at 11am, right through to the finish, the whole Synagogue was buzzing. It was tremendous to be able to share our friendly community with so many people.”
The Synagogue was founded in 1978. Initially, services and social events were held in members’ homes but, as numbers increased, the Synagogue began using hired halls for events. In the early 1990s the decision was made to concentrate on raising money for their own building, built in 2002.