Unique celebration for Grantham couple at Nottingham synagogue

David and Gaby Leigh at their joint bar and bat mitzvah.
David and Gaby Leigh at their joint bar and bat mitzvah.
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A Grantham couple in their ‘60s celebrated their joint bar and bat mitzvah at a Nottingham synagogue this month.

David and Gaby Leigh shared the pulpit at the Nottingham Progressive Jewish Congregation, both reading a passage in Hebrew from the Jewish Bible. Their daughters Miriam and Jessica also shared a Bible reading.

Family and friends came from as far away as France, Germany and Italy.

This joint bar mitzvah of a husband and wife was a unique event in the 50 year history of the Nottingham synagogue.

A bar mitzvah is usually celebrated by a Jewish boy at the age of 13 and a girl does her bat mitzvah. Gaby and David decided to do their bar and bat mitzvah together two years ago.

David, who is Honorary Treasurer of the synagogue, said: “My family belonged to a very progressive synagogue when I was 13 and bar mitzvahs were not encouraged.”

In a sermon to the congregation, David said, “If I had bet on my wedding day that I would be having my bar mitzvah nearly 40 years later together with my wife, William Hill would have just lost a lot of money!”

Gaby, who was born in Germany, converted to Judaism when she and David married. Gaby said, “The day exceeded all our expectations. We are both so thrilled. I was delighted to share the occasion with my non-Jewish relatives and friends. I was very close to my late father, so was proud to wear my kilt made in his family tartan.”

Gaby was editor of the synagogue newsletter for seven years. She now gives talks on Judaism at local schools.

In Grantham, Gaby is a reader for the Talking Newspaper for the Blind. David is a volunteer driver and trustee for Grantham Area Community Transport.