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Page created: 27 June 2017
Latest revision or update: 2 August 2017

Movement for Reform Judaism

The Movement for Reform Judaism is the second largest synagogal movement in the United Kingdom (the United Synagogue being the largest). Membership of Reform congregations in 2016 (including the three unaffiliated Reform congregations listed below) constituted some 19.4% of synagogue membership in the United Kingdom.(1)

Reform is relatively traditional in comparison with its smaller counterpart, Liberal Judaism, though it does not regard Jewish law as binding.

Basic Data

Name:

Movement for Reform Judaism

Former Names:

Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (1958 to 2005)

Associated Synagogues of Great Britain (until 1958

Associated British Synagogues (from 1942)

Head Office:

The Sternberg Centre for Judaism, 80 East End Road, London N3 2SY

Date Formed:

4 January 1942

Ritual:

Reform Judaism

Affiliation:

Member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism since 1945

Website:

http://www.reformjudaism.org.uk

Burial Society:

Jewish Joint Burial Board of 1 Victory Road, Wanstead E11 1UL (serving Reform, Masorti, Liberal and Independent Communities in England), established 1968

Reg. Charity No:

1139806 (Company Registration No. 07431950)


History

Although the first "Reform" congregation in Britain was founded in 1840, it took more than a century before an synagogal organisation was established for the Reform movement.

The first Reform synagogue (although it was some years befor that term was adopted), the West London Synagogue of British Jews, was founded in 1840 by 19 dissatisfied members of the Bevis Marks Synagogue (Spanish & Portuguese Jews) together with five dissatified members from the Ashkanazi Great Synagogue. These members, which included the wealthy Mocatta & Montifiore (Sephardi) and Ashkenazi Goldsmid (Ashkanizi) families, were complaining, in particular, about the rigid regulations in the two synagogue in question. Members of these families Mocattas, many of whom who lived in the West End of London, were forced to walk several miles to and from synagogue on the Sabbath due to synagogue regulation banning prayer groups in a radius of six or ten miles from the existing (City) synagogues.(2) On 15 April 1840, these families held a meeting at the Bedford Hotel in London and declared their intention to to form a prayer group for neither "German nor Portuguese" but for "British Jews". Their declaration included the following:

"We, the undersigned, regarding Public Worship as highly conducive to the interests of religion, consider it a matter of deep regret that it is not frequently attended by members of our Religious Persuasion. We are perfectly sure that this circumstance is not owing to any want of a general conviction of the fundamentsl Truths of our Religion, but we ascribe it to the distance of the existing Synagogues from the places of our Residence; to the length and imperfections of the order of service, to the inconvenient hours at which it is appointed; to the unimpressive manner in which it is performed and to the absence of religious instruction in our Synagogues."

Initially, the new congregation was essentially a breakaway Orthodox community. The new congregation had not been a deliberate premeditated breakaway but its members had been pushed into existance by the refusal of the City synagogues to countenance a West End branch congregation. However, gradually reforms were adopted deepening the ritual divide betwnn the Orthodox community and the breakaway congregation.

Other "Reform"-minded synagogues were gradually founded, in particular Manchester in 1858 and Bradford in 1872. However, these congregations were neither organised together nor had a consistent religious philosophy, to some extent the motives for succession from the main stream congregations were more political than religious. The first of these three breakaway synagogues to adopt full-fledged Reform Judaism was the West London Synagogue in about 1930.

Aided in part by the influx thousands of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, many of whom were well suited to the philosphy of the British Reform movement, on 4 January 1942, representatives from six Reform Synagogues met in Manchester and founded the Associated British Synagogues, later renamed the Associated Synagogues of Great Britain. In 1958, it adopted the name Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, which in 2005 became the Movement for Reform Judaism.

Congregations

When founded in 1942 the Movement had six constituent congregation(3). Today there are 42 affiliated congregations(4) spread throughout the United Kingdom


Greater London and Vicinity:

_________________


Unaffiliated Congregations, with Reform Tradition:

 


Provincial:

Associate Communities

 * An active congregation currently affiliated to Reform Judaism.

 * An active congregation, unaffiliated to any synagogal organisation.

 Φ A congregation previously affiliated to Liberal Judaism.

  An active congregation formerly affiliated to Reform Judaism, but now affiliated to Liberal Judaism.

(A) The 6 founding members in 1942 of Associated British Synagogues (which subsequentlty became the Movement for Reform Judaism).

 


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the All-UK Database associated with the Masorti Movement:

Births

West London Synagogue, Birth Register 1, 1844 - 1905 (859 records).

Marriages

West London Synagogue, 1842 - April 1981 (4,432 records).
Note: to comply with UK Data Protection records 1930-1959 contain limited data and thereafter minimum data.

Burials

Balls Pond Road Cemetery, 1843 - 1941 (West London Synagogue) (900 records*);
Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery 1976 - 2006 (
West London Synagogue), (1,625 records);
Hoop Lane Cemetery, Golders Green Crematorium & Miscellaneous, 1900 - 2007 (
West London Synagogue), (12,166 records of burial*, cremation & interment of cremated remains);
*A search in the database may also reveal duplicates of some of these records on the
JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Register (JOWBR).  

 

Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the Reform Movement

on JCR-UK

  • Selected Bibliography:

    • A Beacon of Light - The History of the West London Synagogue. Philippa Bernard, Philippa, 2014

    • The Synagogues of London. Paul Lindsay, 1993 (Valentine Mitchell, London)

 

Cemeteries of Reform Judaism in the Greater London Area

  • Balls Pond Road Cemetery, Kingsbury Road (disused), Balls Pond Road, London N1
    In use from 1843 to 1951. A former cemetery of the West London (Reform) Synagogue (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Balls Pond Road)

  • Hoop Lane Cemetery West (active), Hoop Lane, Golders Green, London NWII
    The Hoop Lane cemetery was acquired in 1894 by the West London (Reform) Synagogue in 1894, the eastern (smaller) section of which was sold in 1896 to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Hoop Lane)

  • Edgwarebury Cemetery (active), Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware HA8 8QP
    This cemetery, opened in 1973, is also shared by various non-orthodox Jewish congregations as well as the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Edgwarebury)

  • New Southgate Cemetery (active), Brunswick Park Road, London N11
    This is a cemetery of the Hendon Reform Synagogue. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - New Southgate)

  • Bulls Cross Ride Cemeteries (active), Cheshunt, Herts. EN7 5HT
    The principal cemetery of the Jewish Joint Burial Society, which serves Liberal, Reform, Masorti and Independent Communities in England, comprising the original Bulls Cross Ride Cemtery as well as the newer Woodland Cemetery. Bulls Cross Ride had originally been the cemetery of the Western (now Western Marble Arch) Synagogue as well as the independent West End Great Synagogue. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Cheshunt)

In addition, many municipal cemeteries throughout Britain have sections
reserved for non-Orthdox Jewish burials.


Synagogal Organisation in the United Kingdom

London Jewish Community home page

________________

FOOTNOTES ( returns to main text)

  1. "Jewish News", Issue No. 1010, 6 July 2017, pp. 1, 4, quoting report by Board of Deputies Policy Reseach, carried out between April and September 2016.

  2. The Bevis Marks authorities had increased the restriction from four miles to six miles in 1809 - British Chief Rabbis 1664-2006 by Derek Taylor, 2007, p.210.

  3. The originhad incresed al six synagogues are shown marked (A) among the congregations listed on this webpage.

  4. Movement for Reform Judaism website, accessed 22 June 2017.

 

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