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the former

Aldershot Synagogue

& Jewish Community

Aldershot, Hampshire

 

 

 


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congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.

Town of Aldershot

The southern English town of Aldershot, in Hampshire close to the border with Surrey, is famous for its British Army base. The town is now part of the Borough of Rushmoor, formed in 1974 as a local government district within the administrative county of Hampshire, when the municipal borough of Aldershot (incorporated in 1922) was merged with Farnborough Urban District.

Aldershot Jewish Community

The small Jewish community initially grew up as a result of the establishment of Army Barracks in the town in the mid-nineteenth century and lasted until the 1950's. For the early history of the community, see "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" by Malcolm Shaw, 1972.(i)

Congregation Data

Name and Address:

Aldershot Military Synagogue (known as "The Hut")

of Badajos Barracks, Hospital Hill ("opposite Command Pay Office, Hospital Hill, South Camp" within the military barracks), Aldershot

The synagogue was consecrated in March 1912 having been presented by the War Office and was the first garrison synagogue of its kind in Britain.(iv)

Earlier Congregation and addresses:

Aldershot Synagogue (also known as the Aldershot Hebrew Congregation)

  • A temporary synagogue in Barrack Road Aldershot, from about 1902 to 1912(vi)

  • At 1 Barrack Street, from about 1898 to about 1902(vii)

  • At 49 High Street, Aldershot.(viii)

  • and earlier, at 23/24 High Street, Aldershot (the premises of Mr. Moses Phillips)(ix)

Date Formed:

Informal services had been held since about 1858, although the congregation was not formally established until 1863.(xi) It was initially solely a civilian congregation. However, by 1882 advantage was taken by the military of the existence of a synagogue in Aldershot and a divisional order was issued providing Jewish soldiers with details of time and place of the "Divine Service".(xii)

Closure:

Closed (about 1950's).(xiii) During the 1970s, the community based in Guildford was called "the Guildford, Aldershot and District Community".

Ritual:

Generally Ashkenazi Orthodox, although at least one chaplain / minister (Rev. Vivian G. Simmons) was from the Reform movement.

Affiliation:

Although the Aldershot Hebrew Congregation was independent of the United Synagogue, from 1897 it received an annual subvention from the United Synagogue Visitation Committee because of the services the tiny congregation offered to soldiers serving there. In 1902 the subvention was £15, besides defraying the travelling expenses of the visiting ministers.(xiv)

The congregation would have been under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

Shochets:

During the first stage of the congregation's development, the congregation employed a shochet, although there is no evidence of a reader or minister being appointed nor of visiting ministers until 1892.

Meyer Ahronsha (later Ahrons) - shochet from July 1864 until December 1865(xviii)

Rev. I. J. Cohen - shochet and "examiner" from 1866 until November 1888(xix)

S. E. Lassman - shochet from 1888 until about 1897(xx)

Visiting Ministers and Chaplains:

From the 1890s the congregation was generally served by a stream of visiting ministers, primarily appointed as chaplains to the Jewish servicemen at the Aldershot Barracks. From 1902, a definite system of visitation was instituted at Aldershot by the establishment of a regular Sabbath and Festival Service there, which included senior students at Jews' College, London, being engaged to visit Aldershot in order to hold weekly services at the synagogue.(xxiv) The Jewish chaplaincy service at Aldershot was discontinued in 1920.(xxv) The following are known to have served as visiting ministers and/or chaplains:

Rev. Francis Lyon Cohen - from 1892 until 1994(xxviii)

Rev. Abraham Levy - pre-1903(xxix)

Rev. Reuben Tribich - in 1901 or 1902(xxx)

Rev. David Mann - for nearly two years prior to 1906(xxxi)

Rev. J.K. Levin - during 1906(xxxii)

Rev. Isaac Livingstone - from 1907 to about 1909(xxxiii)

Rev. M. Braun -from about 1909 to about 1911(xxxvii)

Rev. Aaron Plaskow - from 1912 to 1916(xxxviii)

Rev. Michael Adler, BA - in 1914 and 1915(xxxix)

Rev. David Hirsch - in about 1916(xl)

Rev. Solomon Lipson - in about 1916 and 1917 and again, on a temporary basis, from in 1919 and early 1920s(xliii)

Rev. Ephraim Moses Levy - from 1916 to 1917(xliv)

Rev. Vivian G. Simmons - the only resident chaplain, from 1917 to 1919, also the acting and hon. minister(xlv)

Rev. Arthur Barnett - from unknown date to 1920(xlvi)

Post 1920s:

Following 1920, the Jewish chaplaincy service at Aldershot was discontinued and civilian participation in the congregation had already dwindled substantially (it had never been large). However, the congregation struggled on with services at the Military Synagogue, but not necessarily on a regular basis. There were services at the synagogue in the 1920s at least on high holy days.(xlix) In 1932 there was an attempt to re-instigate regular Shabbat services and Hebrew classes,(l) but it was reported at the congregation's 1935 annual meeting that there were only two or three members regularly paying their subscriptions.(li) 

During World War II and in the immediate post-war period, services at the synagogue were held regularly, to record numbers of soldiers.(lii) There was, however, no resident chaplain, Dayan Gallop led services regularly on Sundays in the autumn of 1940 and Rev. Isaac Levy also visited Aldershot as an uncommissioned and un-uniformed chaplain.(liii) Future Chief Rabbi Brodie, after serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France and taking part in the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940, was briefly based in Aldershot before being posted as a chaplain to the Scottish Command.(liv)

However the few Jewish residents and evacuees living in Aldershot during the war may have been subject to security restrictions on entering the military camp where the synagogue was located. Those living in Aldershot were amongst those who attended services held by the near-by Guildford United Synagogue Membership Group, established in May 1941

By the 1950s services at the synagogue were being held only "intermittently"(lv) and the synagogue was closed. Arrangements were made for the United Synagogue to take over the cemetery and the ritual appurtenances were ultimately transferred to the Kenton Synagogue, London.(lvi)

Lay Officers:

Unless otherwise stated, the remaining data has been extracted from Jewish Year Book listings, first published 1896/7.(lix) In most instances the officer's forename has been obtained from other sources. Those marked with an asterisk (*) were among the eight founders of the congregation.(lx)

Presidents

1863-1897 - Moses Phillips*(lxi)

1897-1901 - Joseph Lazareck*

1901-1912 - Francis Phillips*

1912-1914 - Nathaniel Solomon

During WWII to 1952 - Max. Turk(lxii)

Treasurers

at least 1874-1897 - Joseph Lazareck*(lxiii)

1897-1898 - Samuel Lazareck*

1898-1901 - E. Lazareck

1901-1906 - Nathaniel Solomon

1906-1912 - Mrs Rose Solomon(lxiv)

Hon. Secretaries

1863 - Selim Melson*(lxv)

1874 - L.B. Simmonds(lxvi)

1896-1898 - Samuel Lazareck*

1898-1901 - E. Lazareck

1901-1906 - Nathaniel Solomon

1906-1912 - Mrs Rose Solomon(lxiv)

1914-1956 - Mrs Beatrice Phillips(lxvii)

Membership Data:

1863 - 8 founding members(lxxi)

1896 - 6 seatholders(lxxii)

Registration District (BMD):

Hampshire (since 1 April 2008)(lxxiii)  - Link to Register Office Website.

 


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Aldershot include:

1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in Aldershot during the 1860s (4 records), 1870s (11 records) and 1880s (9 records). 

 

Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Aldershot Jewish Community
and Jewish Chaplaincy and Servicemen in Aldershot

on JCR-UK


Notable Jewish Connections with Aldershot

  • Mark Dapin (b.1963), Australian based journalist, author and historian, grew up in Aldershot. Amongst his books is Jewish Anzacs, published by the Sydney Jewish Museum.

  • Albert Edward Williamson Goldsmid MVO (1846-1904) acted as chief staff-officer at the Aldershot camp from 1899, and was responsible for its mobilization during the Boer War (he was given the title Assistant Adjutant General). He was a senior British Army officer who rose to the rank of Colonel and was one of the founders of the Jewish Lads' Brigade (in 1895) and the Ancient Order of Maccabeans (in 1896)

  • Sir James Arthur (Jack) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, 3rd Baronet, CB, OBE, MC (1912–1987) was Deputy Commander of Aldershot Command from 1961 to 1962. A senior British Army officer, he rose to the rank of Major-General, said to be the highest rank of a Jewish soldier in the British Army. He was a Conservative MP for Lichfield and Tamworth (1970 to October 1974). He was active in the Jewish Colonisation Association, vice-president of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women and was brigade commandant of the Jewish Lads' Brigade.

  • Nathaniel Solomon (d.1932) was Mayor of Aldershot in 1924-1925 and President of Aldershot Synagogue from 1916 until 1932. His business, Solomon Brothers, were chief contractors to the army for tents and portable buildings, which were manufactured in the firm's works in Aldershot. His wife, Minnie (d.1914) was secretary to the Aldershot congregation. She was instrumental in the acquisition of the Aldershot synagogue in 1912 and generally in army welfare.

  • Thousands of Jewish career soldiers, volunteers, militiamen, reservists, conscripts and national servicemen passed through or were based at Aldershot. Brian Epstein (manager of the Beatles) described his brief time at Aldershot as a post-war national serviceman as "hell". By contrast, Brigadier E.C.W. Myers DSO spent six years at Aldershot as a lieutenant, and in 1944 was awarded the CBE for gallant service.

 

Other Aldershot Jewish Institutions & Organisations

  • Jewish Soldiers Club (founded by 1918)(lxxiv)

 


Aldershot Jewish Cemetery Information

The is a small Jewish cemetery in Aldershot:

  • Aldershot Civic Cemetery, Jewish Section, Redan Road, Aldershot
    Consecrated 1865. Now maintained by the United Synagogue.
    The United Synagogue "Find a Grave" search facility at https://www.theus.org.uk/gravesearch enables one to search for a grave at this cemetery. The search result generally includes the date of burial, the grave position and a photograph of the gravestone, if available.

(For additional information (if any), see also IAJGS Cemetery Project - Aldershot.)

 

Aldershot Jewish Population Data
(excluding soldiers)

1896

54

(The Jewish Year Book 1896/7)

1897

36

(The Jewish Year Book 1897/8)

1898

32

(The Jewish Year Book 1898/9)

1903

52

(The Jewish Year Book 1903/4)

1921

30

(The Jewish Year Book 1922)

1945

34

(The Jewish Year Book 1945/6)

1955

13

(The Jewish Year Book 1956)

1956

4

(The Jewish Year Book 1957)

 

Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" by Malcolm Slowe is part "Aldershot section" from "Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain" - Papers for a conference at University College, London, convened by the Jewish Historical Society of England, prepared by Aubrey Newman - 6th July 1975.).

  • (ii) and (iii) Reserved.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle reports of to 29 March 1912 and 29 September 1916. Hospital Hill, and the Badajos Barracks, was also the address given for the synagogue in Jewish Year Books from 1913

  • (v) Reserved.

  • (vi) Referred to in Jewish Chronicle report of 11 April 1902 and listed as the Temporary Synagogue in Jewish Year Books 1901/2 through 1912.

  • (vii) Address listed in Jewish Year Books 1898/9 through 1900/01.

  • (viii) 49 High Street was the address listed in Jewish Year Books 1896/7 and 1897/8.

  • (ix) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above). This was also the address of the "Temporary Synagogue" in the Jewish Directory of 1874, compiled by Asher I. Myers and was listed as the address of the then president, Moses Phillips.

  • (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above). However, the Jewish Year Book 1896/7 states that the congregation was founded by 1860.

  • (xii) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above).

  • (xiii) Last listed in Jewish Year Book 1957.

  • (xiv) Jewish Chronicle report 11 April 1902.

  • (xv) to (xvii) Reserved.

  • (xviii) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above). The Jewish Chronicle of 24 November 1865 lists him as a subscriber with an address in Aldershot. However, neither Rev. Cohen nor any other person is named as the shochet (or minister) in the Jewish Directory of 1874, compiled by Asher I. Myers.

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle of 16 November 1888 reports presentation of his leaving - "Rev I. Cohen, hitherto minister of the Jewish Congregation at Aldershot, has tendered his resignation, and leaves for Sunderland during the coming week." Also "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above) Jewish Chronicle tribute of 30 December 1898] .

  • (xx) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above).

  • (xxi) to (xxiii) Reserved.

  • (xxiv) Jewish Chronicle report of 11 April 1902.

  • (xxv) Jewish Chronicle report of 10 September 1920 "The Jewish Chaplaincy at Aldershot is being discontinued, and the Rev. Arthur Barnett, the retiring chaplain, in handing over his office to the Y.M.C.A., has sent the following cordial greeting: "In handing over to you, I desire to express for myself, and on behalf of the Jewish community, our sincerest thanks and appreciation of all that the Y.M.C.A. has done for our soldiers during recent years."

  • (xxvi) and (xxvii) Reserved.

  • (xxviii) Rev (later Rabbi) Francis Cohen was born in Aldershot. The Jewish Chronicle in 1892 reported that "As we foreshadowed a few weeks ago, the War Office has appointed the Rev. Francis L. Cohen Visiting Minister to Jewish non-commissioned officers and privates at Aldershot". He was not resident in Aldershot and visited from London. In the 1890s he took the main service which was on a Sunday morning - Shabbat services being started later. He retained his interest in this work until he emigrated to Australia in 1904.

  • (xxix) Jewish Chronicle reports.

  • (xxx) The Jewish Chronicle of 11 April 1902 reported "During the year, a definite system of visitation was instituted at Aldershot by the establishment of a regular Sabbath and Festival Service there. For this purpose, Mr. Ruben Tribich, a Senior Student of Jews' College, had been engaged to hold the service every -week, under the general supervision of the Rev. F. L. Cohen, who also visits Aldershot occasionally".

  • (xxxi) Rev. Mann's profile in The Jewish Chronicle of 17 August 1906 which reported that "for a period of nearly two years he acted as Visiting Minister to the Aldershot Congregation".

  • (xxxii) The Jewish Chronicle of 25 May 1906 reported that "a student of Jews' College, at the present moment Mr. J. K. Levin, conducts the service" at Aldershot.

  • (xxxiii) The Jewish Chronicle reported that Rev. Isaac Livingstone was appointed visiting Jewish chaplain to the Forces at Aldershot while a student at Jews' College, from 1907 until 1909.

  • (xxxiv) to (xxxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxxvii) Based upon Rev. Braun's listing as visiting minister to the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1910 and 1911.

  • (xxxviii) The Jewish Chronicle of 29 March 1912, in the report of consecration of congregation's synagogue, refers to Mr. A. Plaskow, of Jews' College "who has been appointed Visiting Minister". In 1915 the War Office officially granted him recognition as officiating clergyman to Jewish troops of the Aldershot command. The Jewish Chronicle 27 October 1916 refers to his appointment as minister in Glasgow and adds that he had been minister at Aldershot since the erection of the new building on Hospital Hill.

  • (xxxix) Rev. Adler was listed as visiting minister to the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1915. He was a commissioned chaplain to the armed forces and also served on the Western Front during this period.

  • (xl) The Jewish Chronicle of 25 February 1916 reported Rev. David Hirsch as officiating clergyman to Jewish troops in the Aldershot Command.

  • (xli) and (xlii) Reserved.

  • (xliii) Based upon Rev. Lipson's listing as visiting minister to the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1916 and 1917 and as temporary visiting minister from 1920 through 1927 (although the later listings may be an error).

  • (xliv) The Jewish Chronicle reported on 22 December 1916 "the induction of the Rev. E. M. Levy. B.A., as Officiating Clergyman to the Troops at Aldershot". and on 6 July 1917 that the "Rev. E. M. Levy, late officiating clergyman to the Jewish troops at Aldershot, has been appointed Chaplain to the Forces with the rank of Captain and has taken up his duties with the British Expeditionary Force in France".

  • (xlv) Rev. Simmons was listed as Chaplain to the Forces and acting and hon. minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1918 and 1919. His Jewish Chronicle profile of 20 January 1939 stated that he "served in France for two years before taking up the position in Aldershot". He was the only listed Non-Orthodox chaplain at Aldershot (he was at the time the third minister at the West London (Reform) Synagogue).

  • (xlvi) The Jewish Chronicle reported on 10 September 1920 that the Jewish Chaplaincy at Aldershot is being discontinued and that Rev. Arthur Barnett was the retiring chaplain.

  • (xlvii) and (xlviii) Reserved.

  • (xlix) The Jewish Chronicle reported on 13 September 1927.

  • (l) The Jewish Chronicle reported on 11 November 1932.

  • (li) The congregation's minutes, as cited in "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above).

  • (lii) Article by Rev. Isaac Levy in the Jewish Chronicle of 9 July 1954.

  • (liii) Letter to The Jewish Chronicle, 9 February 1940.

  • (liv) Jewish Chronicle report of 16 November 1951 and obituary to Chief Rabbi Brodie 16 February 1979.

  • (lv) Article by Rev. Isaac Levy in the Jewish Chronicle of 9 July 1954.

  • (lvi) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above).

  • (lvii) and (lviii) Reserved.

  • (lix) Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. Initially year books corresponded to the Hebrew year, and thus ran roughly from autumn of one year - the year of publication - until autumn of the next year. From 1909, year books were published according to the Gregorian year, being published generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing the title of the year book. For example, if an officer is listed in Jewish Year Books 1935 through 1938, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1934 and continued in office until 1938. However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ somewhat from those shown here.

  • (lx) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above). The others were Frederick Levy; Woolf Cohen; and Michael Melson.

  • (lxi) The constitution of1863 provided for Moses Phillips to be president ("The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" - see Note (i) above). He was also listed as president in the Jewish Directory of 1874, compiled by Asher I. Myers, and the Jewish Year Book 1896/7 and it is presumed that he served as president throughout such period.

  • (lxii) Max Turk, a solicitor in Farnborough (died 1952), was "president of the Aldershot Hebrew congregation during the war. He helped the visiting chaplains in arranging services and providing hospitality for Jewish servicemen". (Jewish Chronicle 9 February 1940)

  • (lxiii) Joseph Lazarek was also listed as treasurer in the Jewish Directory of 1874 compiled by Asher I. Myers and the Jewish Year Book 1896/7 and it is presumed that he served as treasurer throughout such period.

  • (lxiv) Mrs. Rose Solomon (died 1914, aged 55) was the wife of Nathaniel Solomon. "Her interest in the welfare, moral and material, of the Jewish regular who was stationed at the barracks near her home, was unceasing". Aldershot Gazette as cited in "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" (see Note (i) above).

  • (lxv) The constitution of 1863 provided for Selim Melson to be hon. secretary ("The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" - see Note (i) above).

  • (lxvi) L.B. Simmonds was listed as hon. secretary in the Jewish Directory of 1874, compiled by Asher I. Myers.

  • (lxvii) Mrs. Beatrice Phillips, the wife of Isidore Phillips, was from a long-established Aldershot family, and looked after the welfare of Jewish army personnel in Aldershot for over 40 years. (Jewish Chronicle report of 15 October 1943.)

  • (lxviii) to (lxx) Reserved.

  • (lxxi) "The Foundation of the Aldershot Synagogue" - see Note (i) above.

  • (lxxii) Jewish Year Book 1896/7.

  • (lxxiii) Previous registration districts: Farnham from 1 July 1837; Aldershot from 1 October 1932; and Hampshire North East from 1 April 1974 to 1 April 2008. Any registers would now be held by the current register office.

  • (lxxiv) The Jewish Chronicle report of 3 May 1918.

 

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Page created: 25 February 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 17 August 2021
Latest revision or update: 22 August 2021


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