One snowy weekend in 1990, a group of interested Jews from all parts of Kent, all strangers to one another, met in Rochester to listen to speakers from the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues (now known as Liberal Judaism) talking about their Outreach Programme and the possibility of starting a congregation in Kent.
On 17th November 1991 a resolution was passed formally setting up the Community. Since then we have developed steadily.
We hold most of our services at a regular venue in central Maidstone, chosen because it is easily accessible from all parts of the county. Our Torah scroll is kept in a portable Ark, made by one of our members. We are very much a ‘hands on’ Community.
Sadly, we lost our inspirational Chairman and founder member, Hazel Bishop, in February 2011. In her honour and memory, we have renamed our Community: Kent Liberal Jewish Community – Ohel Rachel. Ohel Rachel (Rachel’s tent), Rachel being Hazel’s Hebrew name. It is our aim that the Community should continue to flourish as her memorial.
We are one of the five Jewish communities in the county which come under the umbrella of Jewish Kent. See jewishkent.org.uk for more details about the Jewish communities around Kent. Jewish Kent aims to hold two intercommunity events annually.