(This History initially appeared on the website of the Manchester Great and
The origin of the Manchester community is shrouded in
obscurity. Jews appear to have settled in Manchester about the year
1780, congregating about the precincts of Shudehill and Long Millgate.
The early settlers numbered about fifteen families and held their first
services in a room in Infirmary Yard, Garden Street, Withy Grove. The
first Synagogue appears to have been established by two brothers, Lemon
and Jacob Nathan, who hailed from Liverpool, and rented the upper
chamber of a house in Long Millgate. Lemon Nathan became President of
the infant organisation, and its first Minister was Rabbi Ahron (Aron
Jacobs), whose son, Alexander Jacobs, of Chapel Street, Salford, became
one of the early Presidents of the community, besides establishing the
first Jewish local charity in 1804. The object of this charity - the
Manchester Philanthropic Society - was to grant relief during the winter
months to poor resident Jews.
burial place was near St. Thomas's Church, Pendleton, and was opened in
1794. The Congregation removed in 1806 to Ainsworth Court, Long Millgate,
where it worshipped until 1824. A new Synagogue was then consecrated in
September, 1825, in Halliwell Street, Long Millgate. In consequence of a
schism, which occurred about the year 1843, a separate Congregation was
formed, who worshipped in Miller's Lane, and acquired a cemetery at Miles
Platting. Eventually, however, an amalgamation was effected in 1851, and
the Miles Platting Cemetery passed into the possession of the Old
Congregation. The appointment of Dr. Schiller-Szinessy as Rabbi of the
Halliwell Street Synagogue let to another schism, which never healed.
With the support of Professor Theodores, Messrs. Horatio Michaels, David
Hesse, Sikismund Schloss, and others, Dr. Schiller-Szinessy established
in 1856 the "Manchester Hebrew Reform Association," which became the
parent of the present Reform Synagogue.
Street Congregation removed to the magnificent structure in Cheetham
Hill, later known as the Great Synagogue, where the foundation was laid
on 5th Iyar, 5617 (29th April 1857), and consecrated on 11th March,
1858-5618, by the late Chief Rabbi, The Very Rev. Dr. N. M. Adler. In
the year 1858, the Rev. Professor D. M. Isaacs, of Liverpool, became
Preacher, dividing his ministrations between two cities. This
arrangement continued in force till 1863, when he resigned in Liverpool,
to give his entire services to Manchester. He served the Congregation as
Minister till his death in 1879, and was succeeded by Rabbi Dr. B.
Salomon, of Copenhagen, in 1881, who occupied the position until he
passed away in 1928, at the ripe age of 82 years. He was greatly
esteemed by all, irrespective of creed, and held a high place amongst
the non-Jewish citizens of Manchester.
He was succeeded by Rabbi I.
Abrahams, M.A., who was inducted as Minister on 10th September, 1933,
and resigned in June, 1937, to take up an appointment as Minister to the
Great Synagogue, Cape Town, South Africa.
Reader, Rev. H. Newman, was appointed First Reader in 1895 and retired
in 1940; He was succeeded by Rev. M. Pearlmann, Rev. Newman passed away
in 1953 in his ninetieth year.
Platting Cemetery was closed in 1872. The Cemetery at Prestwich, which
replaced it, had already been acquired by the Congregation in 1843, and
was finally closed in 1914. The present Cemetery at Crumpsall was
purchased by the Synagogue in 1884.
"Stenecourt," Singleton Road, was purchased and opened for worship for
members unable to attend the Old Synagogue, Cheetham Hill Road, on
account of the far distance. The new building, with its entrance in
Holden Road, was erected in 1953 and was consecrated for Divine Worship
on 1st Nissan, 5714 (4th April, 1954), by the Very Reverend Rabbi I.
Jakobovitz, B.A., Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Communities in Ireland. The
building was opened by the President, David Wilkins, Esp., to whom a
golden key was handed by the Hon. Life President, Herbert A. Nathan,
In 1951, the
Great Synagogue was scheduled by the Ministry of Housing and Local
Government to be preserved on account of its historical interest.
In 1952, the old
assembly hall at the disused Prestwich Cemetery was demolished and a
portion of the front of the ground was presented to the Prestwich
Corporation for a Garden of Rest, which enhanced the front appearance of
the old cemetery. In return the Corporation built the walls around the
On 16th March,
1958, a special service was held in the Old Synagogue to mark the
Synagogue's centenary of its consecration. The Very Rev. The Chief Rabbi
Dr. Israel Brodie, B.A., B.Litt., occupied the pulpit. He was assisted
in the Service by the Communal Rabbi, Dr. A. Altmann, M.A., and the Rev.
M. Perlmann and a choir.
At the subsequent
banquet the Guests of Honour were the Chief Rabbi and Mrs. Brodie, Judge
Neville Laski, Dr. Barnett Janner (President, Board of Deputies), Sir
Edgar Cohen and Mr. Sidney Salamon were amongst the distinguished
visitors. The B.B.C made a recording of the service.
On 27th December,
1964, the Manchester Great and New Synagogue amalgamated under the title
of "Manchester Great and New Synagogue." The New Synagogue was erected
After twenty five
years service to the Synagogue, both in the Great Synagogue and Stenecourt,
as Chazan, Cantor Moshe Perlmann retired. A dinner on December 14th 1966
was held in his honour. Chazan Johnny Gluck took over as Chazan until
Rev. Myer Freedman joined the Synagogue in 1970. He served as chazan until
his retirement in 1997. A dinner was held in January, 1996 to celebrate
his 25 years of service. In 1976 Mr. J.G. Schwalbe retired as the loyal
secretary to the Synagogue, a position he had held for 44 years.
Dr. David Livshin
was appointed Hon. Life President in 1983 and in 1991 Sydney Leighton,
Joshua Herman, Harry Bor and Arnold Lister were appointment Hon. Life
Vice Presidents and Leslie Haber was appointed Hon. Life Warden.
1991 saw the
consecration of a new Sefer Torah funded by members and friends of
Stenecourt and the event was marked by a celebratory dinner.
Rev. Gabriel Brodie joined
Stenecourt in July 1944. In December 1994 a Dinner was held to celebrate
his Golden Jubilee. In 1999 the new Beis Hamidrash was named in his
honour in recognition of his fifty five years of devoted service to the
Sixty years after
its purchase, the original Stenecourt house was demolished and in
December 1997 the new building project commenced. January 1999 saw the
official opening of the new building and in the same year Dr Bernard
Wilkins was appointed an Honorary Life Vice President.
In December 2000, a ladies concert was held in the presence of Lady
Amelie Jakobovits, to launch the "Marga
Brodie Educational Fund". This was set up by the Synagogue in tribute to Marga, testifying to the tremendous contribution she has made over so
In October 2001, the Synagogue appointed Rabbi Benjamin
Simmonds as Assistant Minister.
In March 2004, celebrations were held to mark the 60th
Anniversary of Reverend Brodie's association with the Synagogue. A new Sefer Torah was
presented to the Synagogue in his honour and a Gala Dinner was held at the
end of the weekend, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi and special guest
Rabbi Berel Wein.
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