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Staines' massive wedding?

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-03-08

Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher set to marry Sacha Baron Cohen

Actress Isla Fisher, who has recently revealed that she is to marry comedian Sacha Baron Cohen following her conversion to Judaism, has not ruled out the possibility of tying the knot in Staines, the town made famous by his alto ego Ali G.

According to reports, Fisher has said of their forthcoming summer wedding: “It would be fun to do it in Staines, don’t you think?”


While details are still sketchy as to the type of conversion she has gone through, whether Orthodox or Reform, if she has undergone the former then Staines Synagogue would in fact be the ideal location for the pair’s nuptials.


The synagogue, which was established in the late 1930s, has a fine heritage. One of its first supporters was the founder of Tesco, Sir Jack Cohen, who offered a first-floor hall above his shop for use as the first synagogue. Following growth of the community, 1952 saw it lay the foundation stone for a purpose built synagogue, which members used until 1976 when a modern building was opened near Staines’ popular Elmsleigh Shopping Centre.


Staines has facilities for all Jewish celebrations, with regular services held on Friday nights, Shabbat mornings and festivals, as well as numerous events and social gatherings for members.


SJ’s Caroline Westbrook, a former Staines alumnus and member of one of the shul’s foremost families the Westbrooks (grandfather Emmanuel was former vice-chairman of the synagogue and mayor of Staines; father David was shul warden for several decades) reveals 10 reasons why Staines is ideal for the happy couple.


1. The building is purpose built and offers full accessibility to all, it is ideal for both young and old and there is no problem getting in.


2. A fully equipped kosher kitchen is on site, to cater for the happy event.


3. There is ample, private free parking in the synagogue car park, and any overflow can park in the Elmsleigh Centre car park which offers special Sunday rates and is just a short walk from the shul.


4. Afterwards, Sacha and Isla can retire to the local Thames Lodge Hotel – just two minutes walk from the shul – before going on honeymoon.


5. Staines is ideally situated for all forms of transport – road (it is off the M25), rail (Staines Station is a five minute walk away from the synagogue), air (it is conveniently located for Heathrow Airport which is just a few miles away) and boat (Staines is situated by the river Thames and overnight moorings are possible)


6. Staines Synagogue has a large function hall which can accommodate at least 200 guests. When done up, it can equal or exceed any West End venue. The shul already has tables and chairs and all Sacha and Isla have to do is turn up, book a band and get married.


7. As a newly-wed couple, they could join SYMCA - the Staines Young Married Couples Association – should they decide to make their home in Staines, that is.


8. Staines synagogue’s minister, Rev Michael Binstock, is available to conduct all simchas and could officiate the wedding service.


9. Staines community is small but friendly and Sacha and Isla would be guaranteed a warm welcome.


10. Being outside the capital, it would be far cheaper to have the wedding in Staines than in Central London – and the money saved could go toward’s the happy couple’s honeymoon.