Gerry Our Weekday Caretaker – Interview by Sheryl Weintraub

Gerry is a much respected worker here at Loughton Shul. He is our main caretaker, but what I would say an important asset and friend of the Shul. This interview has been conducted by myself, Sheryl Weintraub, Loughton Synagogue’s Administrator, with a good cup of tea that Gerry often makes me.


Gerry has worked here for almost 5 years and in this time has pretty well got to know everyone. Since working here he has been amazed by the number of people he already knew, from his time running an engineering company, before he commenced employment with us. He recalls a member, Roy, who ran Royston’s from when he was 15 who instigated the raising of money for the lights of Debden High Street in the dark December months.

Gerry works here Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Whilst onsite he maintains upkeep of the grounds, does all minor repairs to the building and oversees all its functions to ensure smooth running. Gerry interacts a lot with the Ladies Guild, Rabbi and myself. He is good for a banter with our lovely Ruth Leigh and Shirley Lane and has a good relationship with all the ladies of the Ladies Guild “even though they can be a pain in the neck at times!

With regard to the Rabbi, he gets on very well with him often making quips in respect to ‘Only Fools and Horses’. He finds the Portnoy family very approachable. Gerry is also a favourite person of the Rabbi’s son, Coby, leaving him out toys to play with each Shabbat. Gerry is not phased about having our young Coby be the boss of him, ordering him about. In fact, Gerry tends to be quite the favourite with many of our Members’ children as he can be as “mad as they are”, as his wife will confirm.

As for his working relationship with me, what can Gerry say? Gerry says “Sheryl is extremely good at her job, has a wonderful nature, and has a beautiful little girl, Hope. We work together very well. Having only recently joined Loughton Shul, Sheryl knows to come to me for advice in regards of Shul happenings realising I have knowledge from previous engagements that repeat either throughout the year or on an annual basis. In that regards, rather than telling me what to do and getting it wrong, together we get it right making life here more pleasurable.

Gerry had a good working relationship with the previous, and only, Administrator, Merle Lewis. “The two of us are no nonsense people so together we stood our ground for the best interest of Loughton Synagogue.” Gerry enjoys seeing Merle in Shul having worked together for almost 5 years, from the time she interviewed him for his job. “Even though she no longer works here it is still nice to see her occasionally when I work on a Saturday or during a function. Merle did a lot for this place whilst she was here and it is nice having someone new take on her mantra with the same enthusiasm and heart for the interest of Loughton Synagogue.

Not missing out our Chairperson, Barbara Cohen, Gerry remarks “she came into my world like a lion and went out like a lamb! My idea of Barbara is last, because she tries new things’ and ideas come fast and furious. Once heated discussions are held, an excellent working relationship ensues”.

As for the congregation as a whole, I feel I have a good rapport with them, having the odd favourite, who tend to be those who engage conversation with me. I really appreciate those members who do not look upon me as just the caretaker but as a respected face amongst the peers. These people make it a pleasure to work here at Loughton Synagogue.”

This interview ended with my thanking Gerry for his time to be interviewed and with my giving him my empty mug for cleaning.