We will be holding two separate workshops at different locations: the West London Reform Synagogue and the Montagu Centre (headquarters of Liberal Judaism) to explore how Jewish communities engage with their local populations and the ways in which the physical space within a Synagogue is used.

You are warmly invited to join us for light refreshments and a conversation on either the afternoon of SUNDAY 11th June 2017 (2pm for refreshments; 2.30-5pm workshop) at the West London Reform Synagogue, 33 Seymour Place, London, W1H 5AU (http://www.wls.org.uk/contact/),  or the evening of MONDAY  3rd July 2017 (6pm for refreshments; 6.30-9pm workshop) to be held at the Montagu Centre/Liberal Judaism’s Headquarters. 21 Maple St, London W1T 4BE (http://www.liberaljudaism.org/where-we-are/the-montagu-centre/).

This informal workshop will bring together representatives (Rabbis, community activists/organisers; council members; diverse congregants) from different London-based Jewish denominations and communities to explore how our visible physical ritual spaces (synagogues) shape our faith practices, and how the design of our places of worship influences our interactions, both within our own communities and also with local people, organisations and other faith groups.

In particular we are interested in hearing your thoughts on the following issues (and any others that arise):

  • How does the physical form of our synagogues reflect and influence our faith rituals?
  • Does the need to protect our sacred spaces affect our ability to invite others to share our places of worship? [for example wheel-chair accessibility; hearing loop provision etc as well as more ‘intangible’ ways of being accessible or presenting barriers to some individuals or groups]
  • Can our buildings support social action and community activities for people who do not share our faith practices? If so, are there any physical changes to the building required to support those different uses?
  • Could thinking differently about the design of your place of worship unlock potential for the building to do more for your community and for others?
  • How might the views of your faith community differ from those of another faith group?

Join the discussion, learn from the experiences of others, and consider new ways to share your places of worship with your own and the wider communities.


This workshop is being designed and facilitated by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Empowering Design Practices and Ritual Reconstructed Arts and Humanities Research Council  (AHRC) funded collaborative research projects. The reflections we gather from participants will help us identify some of the key issues around how we shape and use our religious spaces, and to explore how different faith groups and practices could better use design to unlock the potential of their places of worship.  

Empowering Design Practices (EDP)

Empowering Design Practices is a research project that explores how community-led design can help empower those who look after historic places of worship to create more open, vibrant and sustainable places that respect and enhance their heritage. The project aims to build on and develop tools, resources and training to support community-led design practice in this context, and across the built environment. EDP is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is a collaboration between multiple organisations, including The Open University, The Glass-House Community Led Design, Historic England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Religious Buildings Alliance. http://empoweringdesign.net

Ritual Reconstructed (RR)

Ritual Reconstructed is a project which has explored the ways in gender identity and sexual orientation impacts on how Jewish people who do not identify as heterosexual (LGBT members of the community) experience their faith, the potential challenges to engaging in traditional religious practice and how religious practice and theological interpretation can be ‘reconstructed’ to create a more inclusive environment in both public places of worship and in the home. http://ritualreconstructed.com/

To confirm your attendance (places are limited) and receive further information please contact VERA HALE vera.hale@open.ac.uk;  mobile: 07751496387 at least one week in advance of your preferred date for participation, indicating your preferred venue/date.