The Jewish community in London is a vibrant and diverse one, with congregations spread across the city. From the Westminster Synagogue to the Great Synagogue of London, there are many places of worship for those of the Jewish faith. In this article, we'll explore the main synagogues of London, their history, and what makes them unique. The Westminster Synagogue is an independent, warm and welcoming community that allows its members to practice Judaism in their own way without criticism or judgment.
Our members come from many countries and have a variety of Jewish backgrounds. They enjoy a Jewish life that combines traditional roots and a progressive approach. The South Coast's most elegant Regency resort is home to the opulent jewel in its crown: The Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation. It opened in 1875 to meet the spiritual needs of the Goldsmids, Rothschilds and Sassoons who were on vacation.
The synagogue was designed by Thomas Lainson with a luxurious interior that rivals the splendour of the Royal Pavilion of the Prince Regent. The Montefiore Synagogue in Ramsgate is an 1833 Regency-style synagogue designed by the first Anglo-Jewish architect David Mocatta. It is also the curious last resting place of Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore. The Great Synagogue of London is the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in Britain and the oldest in the English-speaking world.
Built in 1762-3, it was inspired by Raquel's tomb outside Bethlehem. It is an example of a rare discreetly designed Georgian synagogue, such as non-conformist chapels from before Jewish emancipation in Britain (1850), with golden baroque arches. The Birmingham Hebrew Congregation is the first functioning “cathedral synagogue” built in the era of Jewish emancipation in Britain, which is now more than 150 years old. It was designed in Italian Renaissance style in 1855-6 by prominent civic architect Henry Yeoville Thomason, who was also responsible for the Council House and the Birmingham Art Gallery.
The Bradford Synagogue is an oriental gem from 1880-1, located in the heart of Yorkshire. It was built for the German reform community of wool merchants that preceded the Orthodox in the city. The architect was Edward Salomons, of Ashkenazi German origin, and it features exotic touches such as striped bricks, horseshoe arches and a decorative ledge, inspired by a mix of Mamluk Egypt, Moorish Spain and Mughal India. The Princes Road Synagogue in Liverpool and the New West End Synagogue in London are examples of Victorian Orientals that are sensational. The Great Synagogue of London was, for centuries, the center of Ashkenazi synagogue and Jewish life in London.
Unfortunately, it was destroyed during World War II bombing. In Wembley, a group of Jewish residents expressed their desire to establish a place of worship in 1927. The West London Synagogue was born out of this desire to offer new and potential members a variety of ways to find a comfortable place for themselves. Its rabbis (Harold Reinhart, Albert Friedlander and Thomas Salamon) were guided by clarity and passion throughout their ministries and inspired Rabbi Benji Stanley in his spiritual leadership. The Sternberg Center for Judaism is located in Finchley and houses many Jewish institutions from both liberal and Masorti movements. The Masorti Synagogue in south-west London (services were also held in Putney) was founded in 1964 and led by Rabbi Louis Jacobs after famous debates over biblical interpretation. The South East London Synagogue (also known as Peckham Synagogue from 1889 to 1905) is another important center of Masorti movement. Built in Moorish style, it documents the history of Manchester's Jews while special exhibitions often focus on today's Cheetham's cultural diversity. The Lauderdale Road Synagogue is another Sephardic synagogue founded after Bevis Marks that served the Jewish community in west London.
In 1957, Rabbi Reinhart resigned as chief minister and established the New London Synagogue (later renamed Westminster Synagogue) with 80 former members. The museum at West London Synagogue also became involved in presenting Jewish life from other areas, exchanging Holocaust memories, and organizing programs against racism. Finally, Wimbledon District & Synagogue (formerly Wimbledon District & Synagogue) serves Jews living in Merton borough while South East London Synagogue (only from 1889 to 1905) serves those living in Lewisham borough.