JCR-UK

Margate Hebrew Congregation

Cliftonville, Margate, Thanet, Kent

 

              

         
 
 

Mrs. Amelia Collier
She Helped Found the Synagogue

Some reminiscences by her granddaughter Norma Inch of Toronto

Updated 3 November 2011

 Menu for the 1954 Dinner Celebrating the 25th Anniversary
of the Opening of the Synagogue at Godwin Road

I know nothing of a previous synagogue on Edgar Road. When my grandmother moved to Cliftonville (an area of Margate), in 1904, with her three small children, she opened a kosher boarding house, which later became a hotel, the Severn Hotel, in Dalby Square. It is possible she had a previous boarding house on Edgar Road but I never heard of it. At the time, Ramsgate was the nearest place to go for services—a fair distance before the advent of mass transit. She started holding Shabbat services at her hotel until the other boarding house keepers complained that she was doing it to attract guests to her establishment! At this point she decided that Margate needed its own synagogue.

 

It was mainly her determination, efforts and fundraising that saw this come to fruition. Family and friends were all “strong-armed” into donating. My parents, Cicely and Jack Levy, donated one pair of doors to the sanctuary, my aunt, Sadie Hillman, donated the other set of doors, and my uncle and aunt, Marie and Asher Gold, donated one of the windows. Incidentally, she later worked to get an area of the Margate Cemetery separated off as a Jewish cemetery and she is buried there, as is my uncle, her son, Asher Gold.

 

The first wedding held in the synagogue was between Samuel Green and Daphne Edgard. Sadly, it ended in divorce. However, coincidentally, their middle daughter, Adele, married Amelia Collier’s grandson, and my first cousin, Alan Hillman!

 

A house — I’m not sure if it was next door, or further down the street—was purchased on Godwin Road for the Rabbi and his family.

 

There is a story in our family with regard to the consecration of the synagogue by Chief Rabbi Hertz. My grandmother was the president of the Ladies Guild and had set up tables at the back of the synagogue with cups and saucers on them. When the Chief Rabbi arrived he was horrified, stated this was a synagogue not a “Lyon’s tea shop,” and that the tables must be removed. Apparently, my grandmother, who was a very strong-minded lady, and not intimidated by anyone, told him that people had driven 75 miles from London for the ceremony and had to return the same day, and she was not sending them home without a cup of tea. If he didn’t like it, he could turn around and go home and they would consecrate the synagogue themselves! The Chief Rabbi agreed that if the cups and saucers were covered with white cloths he would conduct the service. I don’t know how exact this story is, but, having known my grandmother, it was entirely within character.

 

 Illuminated Scroll presented to Amelia Collier
The only acknowledgement she agreed to accept from the Congregation
 

The signatories on the illuminated scroll (above) were major members of the Jewish community of the time. Barney Hann, Julius Sokel, Lou Grader, W. Winter, H. Freeder, and brothers Morrie, Hymie and David Black. The only one I don’t know is the secretary, L. Ritz.  Hymie Black had a gift shop on the front in Margate, but I don’t know what the other signatories did. A later member of the synagogue, who was president at the time of my grandmother’s death, was a Mr. Anish.  He later became a member of the Margate Town Council.
 

 

 News Cutting from the Jewish Chronicle that appeared
shortly following the death of Mrs. Amelia Collier

Prepared for JCR-UK by Norma I
 

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