JCR-UK

East Anglian Jewry
in Victorian Britain
(Great Yarmouth)

 

 

   
 


Extract from papers on
Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain

Papers prepared by Dr. (later Prof.) Aubrey Newman for a conference at University College, London, convened on 6 July 1975 by the Jewish Historical Society of England
(Reproduced here with Prof. Newman's kind consent)

Paper first published on JCR-UK: 17 August 2016
Latest revision: 11 December 2016

Papers on East Anglia

GREAT YARMOUTH (Norfolk)

Published Data

A  -  A new synagogue was built in 1847; there was then a Jewish population of 48 persons. Ther new synagogue was the smallest in England, holding sixty places in all, including both men and women. In 1857 there were 12 seatholders and a population of some 75. In 1988 the synaggogue was closed down - though there were still some three or four families - but it was re-opened for services.

1874[a]

Synagogue, Row 42. Founded 22nd April 1847.
THe only membs are A. White, Liverpool, and M. Mitchell, Yarmouth, who are the surviving lessees. The synagogue is closed, but service is held when opportunity offers.

1901[b]

12 Jewish families

Synagogue, Row 42, Market Place (Founded 1846, reconstituted 1899)

Old Cemetery in Tower Road; New Cemetery, the Corporation Burial Groungs.

[A. Primarily, The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth (1950)
[a - The Jewish Directory for 1874, by Asher I. Myers]
[b - Jewish Year Book]


Board of Deputies returns

  births marriages burials seatholders

1852

2 (2M)

0

0

8

1860

 

0

1

9

1870

 

0

1

2

1877

"This congregation has ceased to exist."

1901

1

1

3

17

 
GREAT YARMOUTH
by Harry Levine

(For the earlier history of the Community, see "(Great) Yarmouth" in Cecil Roth's "The Rise of Provincial Jewry", 1950)

The seaside resort of Great Yarmouth has the unique record of having been born twice. According to Harold Soref (East Anglian Retrospect - Jewish Chronicle September 7th 1956) Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore spent their honeymoon in Yarmouth in the year 1802, and afterwards visited Norwich. In 1847, incidentally one year before the dedication of the Norwich Synagogue in St. Faiths Lane, a synagogue was erected in Row 42, near the Market. The foundation stone was laid in May, and the Synagogue was consecrated on August 31st 1847, by the Rev. M. B. Levy, Minister of the Brighton Congregation. "Among those present," states the Rev. Michael Adler - Jewish Chronicle September 13th 1895 - "was Sir Francis H. Goldsmid who was staying in the town awaiting the result of an election petition, he having been defeated in the Liberal interest a few weeks before. Sir Moses Montefiore had also promised to attend, but was prevented. In the appeal for funds, published in the Jewish Chronicle and The Voice of Jacob, the promoters of the Synagogue, Messrs. D. L. Cohen, J. Mayers and M. Mitchell, state that the Old Synagogue, from its dilapidated state had been demolished. The date of this earlier structure is unknown."

The Congregation survived until about 1877 when the number of Jewish residents became so sadly reduced as to necessitate the closing of the building. The names of the worshippers are to be found on the tombstones in the two cemeteries. The second and last Minister was the Rev. Levi Levenberg, who died in 1870. When the Synagogue was closed, the chief Jewish resident was Mr. Michael Mitchell who died in 1890. He had originally designed the Synagogue, which Cecil Roth described as "the smallest, there being seats for no more than sixty persons. At the time of its construction, the community had comprised all told just forty-eight persons."

Ultimately, after being used for some time as a store for fishing-nets, it was sold in 1892, with the adjacent cottage, for 150 and converted 'into a mission hall'.

The story of the second birth of the Yarmouth Congregation is told by "Clericus" in the Jewish Chronicle of September 8th 1899.

It does not often happen that a congregation becomes extinct, and is brought to life again. Such, however, has been the fortune of the Yarmouth Community. For thirty years there had been no congregation. The Synagogue was accordingly sold, and converted by its proprietors into a mission hall. But about eighteen years ago there settled in Yarmouth Mr. A. Goldstone, who has held services in his own home for the past ten years. From time to time he agitated for the revival of the congregation. But the few remaining inhabitants gave him no encouragement, and so matters drifted on until last December when another Jew settled with his family at Yarmouth.

The name of the newcomer was Mr. L. Harrison, a public-spirited gentleman who had formerly held clerical positions at Norwich and Dunedin, New Zealand. (He had in fact acted as Minister to Norwich Hebrew Congregation from 1889-1892, and for five years at Dunedin H.L.) Mr. Harrison and Mr. Goldstone at once put their heads together and called a meeting of the townspeople. The meeting was not very successful, but the two promoters persisted in their efforts. On the advice of the Chief Rabbi, possession was once more obtained of the old shule, a Chazan, Shochet and Teacher was engaged, and from the beginning of the present year 1899, the new congregation was established. The Synagogue was re-opened for divine worship five weeks ago, when the Rev. S. Pearlstein of Exeter entered upon-his duties. Through the courtesy of Mr. Leonard Jones, a nephew of the founders, I have in front of me a copy of the 'Order of Service' at the re-opening of the Great Yarmouth Synagogue, on Sunday October 8th 5660 - 1899, The copy also states that the Synagogue will be opened by A.B. Salmen, Esq., Senior Warden of the South Hackney Synagogue, London; the Consecration Ceremony will be celebrated by the very Rev. Dr. Hermann Adler, the Chief Rabbi; the Service will be conducted by the Rev. S. Pearlstein.

Members of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation were represented at the consecration headed by the Treasurer Mr. S. H. Harrison. In the same issue of the Jewish Chronicle there is an interesting Editorial on the re-establishment of the Yarmouth Synagogue. It praises the enthusiasm and religious zeal of a handful of people who had acquired possession of their old synagogue, and engaged a Chazan, Shochet and teacher. "They have chosen an opportune moment for inaugurating their labours, in the unprecedented number of Jewish visitors who have been attracted to Yarmouth this year have thus had an opportunity of attending public worship as well as eating Kosher meat. So freely have they availed themselves of this opportunity, that the synagogue has been filled on Friday night and Sabbath mornings." It also commented that it was sad to hear of a Minister of a Jewish Congregation receiving only a pound a week in addition to a free residence, for performing the  combined duties of reader, teacher and shochet. An appeal was made to attract workers in the congested parts of East London "to exchange their crowded neighbourhood for the health-giving breezes of Yarmouth", but without any appreciable result. By 1914, the community once more faded away. There are three Jewish families living in Yarmouth who are members of the Norwich Congregation. 'Mr. Mark Goldstone of Gorleston, an octogenarian, son of the founder of the Yarmouth Synagogue is also a member, and he recently presented to Norwich a Megillah which belonged to the Yarmouth Synagogue.

Introduction to Papers on East Anglia

Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain - List of Contents


Great Yarmouth Jewish Community home page


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