Whilst both North and South Shields received the Jewish
immigrants arriving from the continental ports of departure at
about the same time, it appears that the Jewish communal development of North Shields took place earlier than that of South Shields.
The 1851 Census provides details of a congregation founded
in 1846 in Tynemouth (i.e. North Shields). The local civic cemetery
at Preston, North Shields, has part of it railed off as a Jewish
Burial Ground. There are 57 graves, most of them identified by
headstones. The earliest stone, that of Carl Lotinger, dates back
to 1865[sic the date would appear to be 1856], so that there must have been a Jewish community in existence
prior to that date. The following are some of the names that appear
on the stones: David Kossick, Fisherl Merkel, Marcus, Cohen, Jackson,
Saltman, Lotinger, Sheckman, etc.
An account of the early beginnings of the South Shields
community states that its early settlers used to travel by ferry
boat across the river - often in dangerous conditions, to join
the minyon in North Shields and in particular to receive Hebrew
instruction for the children at the Cheder there. They would pay
their fares for the ferry transport in advance during a week day,
so as not to desecrate the Sabbath day. It would appear that
these early Jewish settlers in North Shields were orthodox and
learned in Jewish scholarship, for they were able to instruct
the children themselves.
Originally the immigrants worshipped in private homes, for
nothing more is known until 1870 when they rented a house in Linskill
Street, not far from the North Shields Ferry landings.
By the year 1880 the community consisted of 15-20 families,
i.e. about 100 souls. The premises at Linskill Street were now too
small for their requirements, so they reconstructed the building,
which they had now purchased, in order to form a proper synagogue.
The main hall was upstairs and consisted of an Ark, a Reader's desk
in front of the Ark, (as is the custom in orthodox synagogues), rows
of polished bench seats, and a gallery for the ladies separated by
wooden railings. The caretaker occupied the downstairs room. The
Jewish Year Book of 1895 reports that there was one burial in that
year and that of 1897, one marriage and four burials.
This community never seems to have grown in size for as soon
as the immigrants established themselves, many of them preferred to
move to the more important town of South Shields or to Newcastle,
where there were better Jewish facilities by now for their families.
They were always concerned that their children should meet Jewish
partners and particularly was this the case for their daughters.
From the information from Mr. Science, a warden for many years, it
would seem that the North Shields congregation held services only
on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
The community never enjoyed the services of a full time
teacher, or of a shochet. These services were provided by South
Shields or Newcastle.
The occupations of some of the early members are known.
Mr. Myers - Tailor.
Fridenberg - Ship's runner.
Mr. Marcus -
Hashman - Cabinet maker.
S. Beadon - Furniture
Sheckman - Seamans' outfitters.
Pearlman - Pawnbroker and
Science - Retail Draper.
Saltman - Credit Draper.