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the former

East Grinstead and District Jewish Community

East Grinstead, Mid Sussex, West Sussex

 

 

   


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

Town of East Grinstead

The town of East Grinstead in southeast England, with a population of some 26,000, is in the north-eastern corner of the local government district of Mid Sussex, near the borders with East Sussex, Kent and Surrey. It is now in the administrative county of West Sussex. East Grinstead was an urban district in the administrative county of East Sussex until 1974, when it was merged with other localities, also in East Sussex, to form Mid Sussex and transferred to West Sussex.

East Grinstead Jewish Community

An organised Jewish community was established at the end of the 1970s, but it appears now to be defunct.

Organisation Data

Name:

East Grinstead and District Jewish Community(ii)

Previously East Grinstead Jewish Community, until about 1984.(iii)

Address:

No fixed address. Services were frequently held in the homes of members. During the early 1980s, services were held (then about once a month) at a local hall hired for the occasion and, for the High Holy-days services, the services were held at East Grinstead Friends Meeting House.(v) This was later also used for regular services, when not held in members' homes.(vi) On at least one occasion the services were held at the Gatwick Airport Interdenominational Centre.(vii) In 1982, the community announced its intention to look for a synagogue(viii) and a building fund was launched, but there is no report to suggest it ever acquired its own premises.

Formation:

Formed at a meeting held in April 1978,(xi) although it was already listed (as unaffiliated) in "Synagogue Affiliation in the United Kingdom 1977" compiled by the Research Unit of the Board of Deputies' (see below).

Ritual and Affiliation:

The community was traditional Ashkenazi Orthodox but also with a reform base. One of the initiators of the community in 1978 was looking to establish a Reform congregation,(xii) although the inaugural meeting was chaired by Rev. Malcolm Weisman, the (Orthodox) minister for Small Communities,(xiii) who was also a frequent visiting minister. There had, however, also been visiting ministers from the Reform(xiv) and Liberal Movements,(xv) and the children at the Hebrew classes were taught by the Lubavitch director for small communities.(xvi) The community was by choice non-aligned, as reiterated by a letter to The Jewish Chronicle in April 1980.(xvii)

Closure:

Although the community was last listed in Jewish Year Books in 2014, it appears to have ceased activities some time earlier - the last reference to the community in the Jewish Chronicle archive is 2004 although no report was found confirming the date the community was wound up. However, it was still listed in the "JPR Reports of Synagogue Membership in 2010 and 2016" (see below) (where it was described as "Central Orthodox").

Relationship with Nearby Communities:

Members of the East Grinstead community came from a wide catchment area, incorporating (in addition, to East Grinstead) Crowborough and Forest Row in Sussex and Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Edenbridge in Kent.(vi) (In 1995, it was reported that the community in Tunbridge Wells had some time previously merged with East Grinstead.)(xviii)

In 1996 the East Grinstead Jewish community and Hastings Jewish Society combined for some of the High Holy-day services conducted jointly by their respective chairmen, Manny Godfrey and Dr Bruce Eton.(xix)

In 1999 David Morrison-Wilpred, life president of the East Grinstead Jewish community, sought to establish a formal affiliation between it and the Eastbourne Synagogue and the Hastings Jewish Society. In December it was announced that the Eastbourne Synagogue had expanded its ties with other Sussex communities, and Manny Godfrey, chairman of the East Grinstead community, had become a member.(xx)

Ministers:

None appointed, although Rev. Malcolm Weisman, the minister for Small Communities, was a frequent visiting minister.

Lay Officers:

Chairmen

1978-1979 - Fred Eichner(xxi)

1979-1980 - David J. Morrison-Wilpred(xxii)

1980-1981 - Manny Morris(xxiii)

1981-1982 - S. Jacobi(xxiv)

1982-1984 - Emanuel (Manny) Godfrey(xxv)

1984 to at least 1985 - J. Lamont(xxvi)

late 1980s - Emanuel (Manny) Godfrey(xxvii)

 

Presidents

1979 to at least 1983 - Fred Eichner(xxx)

by 1989 to at least 1990s - David J. Morrison-Wilpred (xxxi)

 

Wardens

1981-c.1983 - David J. Morrison-Wilpred (xxxiv)

1983-c.1984 - Laurie Rosenberg(xxxv)

1985-2000s - Emanuel (Manny) Godfrey(xxxvi)

Vice Chairmen

1979-1983 - L. Shamplina
(1981-c.1982 - jointly with J. Morris)(xxxvii)

1983-1984 - J. Lamont(xxxviii)

1984-1985 - L. Shamplina (xxxix)

about 1989 - Michael Goldin(xl)

 

Treasurers

1978-1982 - David J. Morrison-Wilpred(xlii)

1982-1983 - T. Diamant-Miller(xliii)

1985-1988 - Mrs. V. Moss(xliv)

1988-1990 - Mrs. J. Goldin(xlv)

1990-1996 - Mrs. J. Wartenberg(xlvi)

 

Hon. Secretaries

1978-c.1979 - Mrs. Carol Offer
Mrs. Sue Morris(xlix)

1980-1981 - S.J. Jacobi(l)

1981-1982 - Mrs. R. Bennet(li)

1982-1983 - Mrs. Sue Morris(lii)

1983-1985 - Mrs. Mura-Lynn Vyner(liii)

Membership:

Jewish Chronicle Reports

1978(lviii)

1982(lix)

1989(lx)

1991(lxi)

25 families

33 families

25 families

35 families

National Reports and Surveys(lxii)

1977 - 15 male (or household) members and 2 female members

1983 - 30 male (or household) members and 5 female members

1990 - 15 members (comprising 13 households and 2 individual female members)

1996 - 20 members (comprising 11 households, 1 individual male and 8 individual female members)

2010 & 2016 - listed as having under 50 members (by household)

Former Charitable Status:

The community was a registered charity (no 288189) registered on 30 January 1984.(lxv)

Registration District (BMDs):

West Sussex, since 1 April 2010(lxvi) - Link to Register Office Website

Burial Arrangements and Cemetery:

In 1990, the community signed an agreement with the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS) - administered by the North-Western Reform Synagogue, Golders Green - giving members full access to the society's burial facilities.(lxvii)

There is no Jewish cemetery in East Grinstead.

 

Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the East Grinstead Jewish Community


Notable Jewish Connections with East Grinstead

  • Elaine Blond OBE (1902-1985) and her second husband Neville Blond OBE CMG (1896-1970):

    • Elaine and Neville Blond moved to East Grinstead during World War II and made their home at Gotwick Manor, Hammerwood, a hamlet about four miles east of East Grinstead. Elaine was the daughter of Michael Marks, the founder of Marks & Spencer. She was a worker for the Refugee Childrens' Movement in the 1930s and 1940s, and Life President of the Federation of Women Zionists. Her memoirs, Marks of Distinction, was published posthumously (1999).

    • Neville Blond was a textile manufacturer and philanthropist. He was Major in the Royal Horse Guards during World War I (awarded Croix de Guerre and Legion d'Honneur) and RAF wing commander during World War II and later served in the war-time Ministry of Production. He was UK Trade Advisor to the USA after the war. First chairman of the English Stage Company based at the Court Theatre, London.

    • The Blond McIndoe Centre for Medical Research at East Grinstead which opened in 1960, was a world-renowned medical research institute which pioneered treatments for severe burns injuries. Elaine and Neville Blond, friends of the surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe, were founding patrons and principal fundraisers for the centre. The couple also funded research fellowships and treatment centres at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. (See Biographies on the Centre's website.)

    • Elaine's daughter from her first marriage to Norman Laski, Dame Simone Prendergast DBE DL JP, (1930-2012) lived at Saint Hill, East Grinstead during World War II. A prominent political figure in the Conservative Party in Westminster and London, she became chair of the Blond Mclndoe Centre for Medical Research at East Grinstead.

  • Neil Gaiman (b.1960), author of novels, comic books, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films, moved to East Grinstead as a child in 1965.

  • Sara Gibbs, a British comedy script writer and autism advocate, grew up in East Grinstead.

  • Alice Lucas (1851-1935), poet, Hebrew and German translator and community worker, lived for a time at Bramblehurst, East Grinstead. Her son, Dr. Nathaniel Lucas (d.1968), whose home was at Bramblehurst, held a number of communal positions, including president of the Jewish Religious Education Board and chair of the Singers' Prayer Book publication committee.

  • Denzel Sebag-Montefiore (1914-1996), president of the World Sephardi Federation, hosted occasional events for the East Grinstead community at his home in Fordcombe, Kent, about 10 miles from East Grinstead.

 

Other East Grinstead Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Hebrew and Religious Classes - first organised in October 1978 under the auspices of the Jewish Memorial Council.(lxx)
    In 1982, there were 25 pupils who attended the classes on Sunday mornings at a local language centre. They were taught by Rabbi I. Sufrin, the Lubavitch director for small communities, as well as a member of the community itself.(lxxi)

Other Institutions

  • During World War II, Apsley House, two miles from East Grinstead, was used by Jewish refugees as a training farm to prepare for agricultural settlement in what became the state of Israel. The farm, which consisted of two houses and an estate, was presented by a Christian, Mr Ian Anderson, and was opened in February 1939 to house an initial cohort of 12 refugee boys. It was reported that up to 150 refugees were to be placed at the East Grinstead farm.(lxxii)

 

East Grinstead Jewish Population Data

1979

40

(The Jewish Year Book 1980)

1988

35

(The Jewish Year Book 1989)

 

Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) This is the name listed in Jewish Year Books from 1985.

  • (iii) This is the name listed in Jewish Year Books until 1984.

  • (iv) Reserved.

  • (v) Jewish Chronicle report of 1 October 1982.

  • (vi) Jewish Chronicle article of 13 January 1989.

  • (vii) Jewish Chronicle report of 1983.

  • (viii) Jewish Chronicle report of 1 October 1982.

  • (ix) and (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) Jewish Chronicle report of 21 April 1978. 1978 is also given as the year of formation in Jewish Year Books from 1980 (the year the community was first listed).

  • (xii) Jewish Chronicle report of 2 February 1978.

  • (xiii) Jewish Chronicle report of 21 April 1978.

  • (xiv) Jewish Chronicle report of 9 July 1982 refers to Philip Michaelis of Bromley Reform Synagogue conducting a service.

  • (xv) Jewish Chronicle report of 23 September 1983 refers to Rabbi C. Wallach of Brighton Progressive Synagogue attending a meeting of the community.

  • (xvi) Jewish Chronicle report of 1 October 1982.

  • (xvii) Letter to The Jewish Chronicle of 1 April 1980.

  • (xviii) Statement of Rev. Malcolm Weisman in Jewish Chronicle article of 24 February 1995 (Malcolm Weisman at large).

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle report of 6 September 1996.

  • (xx) Jewish Chronicle reports, respectively, of 30 July 1999 and 3 December 1999.

  • (xxi) F. Eichner was elected at the inaugural meeting as reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 21 April 1978. He is not listed in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xxii) D. Morrison-Wilpred was listed as chairman in the Jewish Year Book 1980.

  • (xxiii) M. Morris's election as chairman was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 18 April 1980 and he was listed as chairman in the Jewish Year Book 1981.

  • (xxiv) S. Jacobi's election as chairman was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 1 May 1981 and he was listed as chairman in the Jewish Year Book 1982.

  • (xxv) Manny Godfrey's election as chairman was reported in The Jewish Chronicle in 1982 and on 11 March 1983 and E. Godfrey was listed as chairman in Jewish Year Books 1983 and 1984.

  • (xxvi) J. Lamont was listed as chairman in the Jewish Year Book 1985 (the last edition to list the chairman of the community).

  • (xxvii) Manny Godfrey was referred to as chairman in Jewish Chronicle report of 13 January 1989.

  • (xxviii) and (xxix) Reserved.

  • (xxx) F. Eichner's election as president was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 18 April 1980 and he is subsequently referred to as president in reports of 1 October 1982 and 23 September 1983. In the report of 13 January 1989 he was referred to as the "late" Fred Eichner.

  • (xxxi) Referred to as president in Jewish Chronicle reports of 13 January 1989, 14 Ap[ril 1989 and 22 June 1990, and as life president on 30 July 1999.

  • (xxxii) and (xxxiii) Reserved.

  • (xxxiv) Election as warden reported in Jewish Chronicle of 1 May 1981 and in 1982

  • (xxxv) Rosenberg election as warden was reported in Jewish Chronicle of 11 March 1983.

  • (xxxvi) Listed as warden in Jewish Year Books 1986 through 2014.

  • (xxxvii) Election as vice chairman was reported in Jewish Chronicle of 4 April 1980, 1 May 1981 and 1982.

  • (xxxvii) J. Lamont's election as vice chairman was reported in Jewish Chronicle of 11 March 1983.

  • (xxxix) L. Shamplina was listed as vice chairman in the Jewish Year Book 1985.

  • (xl) M. Goldin was referred to as vice chairman in a Jewish Chronicle report of 13 January 1989.

  • (xli) Reserved.

  • (xlii) D.J. Morrison-Wilpred's election as treasurer was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 21 April 1978, 18 April 1980 and 1 May 1981.

  • (xlii) T. Diamant-Miller's election as treasurer was reported in a Jewish Chronicle report of 1982.

  • (xliv) Listed as hon. treasurer in Jewish Year Books 1986 through 1988.

  • (xlv) Listed as hon. treasurer in Jewish Year Books 1989 and 1990.

  • (xlvi) Listed as hon. treasurer in Jewish Year Books 1991 through 1996.

  • (xlvii) and (xlviii) Reserved.

  • (xlix) Elected as joint secretaries at the inaugural meeting as reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 21 April 1978.

  • (l) Elected as secretary at the annual meeting reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 18 April 1980.

  • (li) Elected as secretary at the annual meeting reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 1 May 1981.

  • (lii) Elected as secretary at the annual meeting reported in The Jewish Chronicle in 1982.

  • (liii) Elected as secretary at the annual meeting reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 11 March 1983 and listed as secretary in the Jewish Year Books 1984 and 1985.

  • (liii) to (lvii) Reserved.

  • (lviii) The Jewish Chronicle of 13 October 1978.

  • (lix) The Jewish Chronicle of 1 October 1982. The number represents some 100 people, among them 25 children.

  • (lx) The Jewish Chronicle of 13 January 1989.

  • (lxi) The Jewish Chronicle of 1 September 1991.

  • (lxii) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports.

  • (lxiii) and (lxiv) Reserved.

  • (lxv) Jewish Year Book 1993 and Charities Commission website (accessed in about 2010 but no longer listed).

  • (lxvi) Previous Registration Districts: East Grinstead from 1 July 1837 until 1 April 1935; Uckfield from 1 April 1935 until 1 April 1974; and Crawley from 1 April 1974 until 1 April 2010. All records would now be held by the current office.

  • (lxvi) Jewish Chronicle report of 22 June 1990.

  • (lxviii) and (lxix) Reserved.

  • (lxx) Jewish Chronicle report of 13 October 1978.

  • (lxxi) Jewish Chronicle report of 1 October 1982.

  • (lxxii) Jewish Chronicle reports of 3 February 1939 and 18 November 1977.


Jewish Congregations in West Sussex

List of Member Synagogues of the Jewish Joint Burial Society

Jewish Communities of England homepage


Page created: 22 March 2003
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 19 August 2022
Page most recently amended: 28 October 2022

Research by David Shulman and Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman


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