Thank you very much for including me in the Newsletter and I heartily support your efforts. I hope it does, indeed, succeed in continuing the community of past and present Boro residents.
I was unfortunately unable to get to the closing ceremonies of the shul in November 1998. I was only made aware of them about 2-3 weeks beforehand, and by then I had already made plans to be in Middlesbrough to visit my Dad at Chanukah. I had also made extensive other plans for that trip so I could not make the changes that would have been required. Despite that, and especially when I heard that there had been so many people at the reunion/closing down ceremony, I was disappointed in retrospect that I had not made that extra effort.
I must say that I have had extensive reports of the event, firstly from Michael Bharier with whom I am in fairly frequent contact and who sent me photograhs taken at the event, and also through the Evening Gazette on-line which had a rather in-accurate report of the event together with a photograph of Rev Topp sitting in, of all places, the Ezrach Nashim! It certainly gave me a view of the shul that I had never previously had, if nothing else.
As my Dad is still living in, or rather out of, Middlesbrough, I visit about twice a year. He recently moved out of the house he has lived in for the past 45 years on The Avenue, and into a bungalow on the outskirts. The move was necessary because of his deteriorating health and his inability to climb stairs with any sort of ease, but it was still hard to think of him no longer living in the old house. As a life long Boro supporter it is sad to think that I can no longer walk from his house to Ayresome Park to watch "the lads" play. Now I can no longer walk anywhere from his house because I could even walk to the new Riverside Stadium from The Avenue, albeit with a bit more effort than before. I well remember coming to shul for Minchah on Shabbat afternoons to be greeted by Rev Kersh with a diplomatic enquiry as to whether I had heard the result of the Boro game that afternoon, when he knew full well that I had been there in person! He was always interested in how Cloughie and Peacock had done, I even remember him being a fan of Lindy Delaphena and Rolando Ugolini in somewhat earlier days.
I have fine memories of Middlesbrough other than the football team. I was not born there, and in fact I first moved there when I was 10 after my father was appointed as a Consultant Orthopoedic Surgeon in 1954. 1 did, though, have my Bar Mitzvah there, a fact that I recalled recently when I did the layaning, or part of it, of my Barmitzvah parsha, Bo, in my local shul here in Canada. I also spent all my vacations from Carmel there as well as many weekends and holidays when I was already at medical school in London. My dad used to sit next to Louis Bharier in shul on the north side, three rows back, and when I met Michael for the first time in about 4 decades a few months ago, I was struck by a feeling of incredible deja vu because he looks the spitting image of his father!
I remember that Rev Kersh could never get my name right (I am Yonah not Yonatan) even on the day of my Bar Mitzvah. But I also remember that he could layen as well as anyone else I have even heard, and usually with minimal or no preparation.
Most of all I remember Morris Saville as he used to be when he was Chazan Sheni on the Yomim Nora'im ... Chazan Rishon, more like it, in the passion he put into his davening. Particularly I remember him each year as I now am doing the same sort of thing in my shul as Chazan Sheni and Ba'al Tokeah. Each year I try to emulate him doing Shaharit on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, especially as I try to get my voice to break in the same sort of way while doing the Avinu Malkenu's! I also feel for him, as I have no doubt he felt, when he struggled to keep the note going with the Shofar and his lip threatened to come unglued from the instrument and he, as I now, silently pray that it will stay attached for just a few more notes and not leave me blowing silently! I also remember him and Rose Saville in the shop on St. Barnabas St. hovering and fussing over us to make sure that we had all that we needed for a kosher house. I feel that the community started to fall apart when they left for Sunderland, (what a terrible thing for a Boro supporter to have to bear!), and my many trips back only served to emphasise that point with the minyanim diminishing each time until there were essentially none except by special order and calling!
I now have three children of my own, the oldest of whom has inherited my love for Boro football despite being located in Toronto. I will continue to go to Middlesbrough as long as my father stays there and alive, but, I'm sad to say, when he eventually passes on, (ad meah ve-esrim,) there will be little to draw me back there other than the football team!