Andrew Garfield recently became Deputy for Highgate Synagogue but his religious journey has taken some twists and turns along the way.
Brought up on the borders of East London and Essex, Andrew’s family attended Wanstead and Woodford Synagogue (now Woodford Forest). He recalls: “I had my barmitzvah there, and my family were regular shul goers. As a young man I went through quite an Orthodox phase and attended a yeshivah in Israel, but became disillusioned after a while, which sent me in the opposite direction for a few years.”
Andrew returned to synagogue attendance in earnest, however, in his early 30’s, when newly married and thinking of starting his own family. “I rediscovered my Jewish roots and became a member of Finchley Reform for a while until, about seven years ago, I found myself drawn back into the familiarity of the United Synagogue.”
He chose Highgate Synagogue partly because it reflected his values. “It felt instantly compatible with my experience as being someone who had had a religious upbringing but was also very open to the outside world. We have a rabbi in Nicky Liss who is heavily involved in interfaith activities, and is widely-read and extremely knowledgeable about current affairs, as are so many of his members. I greatly enjoy the diversity of the community there, all of whom are knowledgeable, questioning and independent minded.”
Andrew’s background is in journalism. A former Brussels correspondent for The Scotsman, he was City Editor of the Scotland on Sunday, European Business Editor of the Evening Standard, and Financial Editor of The Independent for several years. Twenty years ago he moved into communications as a partner at Brunswick Group, and has run his own consultancy, Garfield Advisory, for the past six years.
An Oxford graduate with a degree in Modern Languages, Andrew has a keen interest in international affairs. “I think it is very important is to develop and maintain links with Jewish communities in other countries. One of the things I feel quite strongly about is that Israel and diaspora communities seem to be moving in different directions. As someone who has spent much time in Israel, speaks fluent Hebrew, and regularly communicates with friends and business colleagues there, I firmly believe we need to get to know and respect each other more comprehensively, and with empathy.”
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