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Page created: 27 June 2017
Latest revision or update: 13 August 2017

United Synagogue

The United Synagogue is a union of British Orthodox synagogues and is the largest synagogue body in Europe. Its members fall into a category described by the Board of Deputies as Central Orthodox, which also includes the Federation of Synagogues and many congregations of similar ilk throughout the United Kingdom. Membership of Central Orthodox congregations in 2016 numbered 41,990, constituted some 52.8% of synagogue membership in the United Kingdom. However, such numbers had decreased by 24,211 members (a decline of 37%) over the preceding six years.(1) Approximatel 37.4% of British synagogues adhere to Central Orthodoxy.(2)

The spiritual leader of the United Synagogue is "the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth" (see list below).

Basic Data

Name:

The United Synagogue

Head Office:

305 Ballards Lane, North Finchley, London N12 8GB

Date Formed:

1870

Ritual:

Ashkanazi Orthodox

Website:

http://www.theus.org.uk

Burial Society:

United Synagogue Burial Society 

Kashrut Authority:

Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din (KLBD)

Reg. Charity No:

242552


United Synagogue Act
The United Synagogue Act 1870

History

The United Synagogue was created by a special Act of Parliament dated 14 July 1870 (the United Synagogue Act 1870), granting formal recognition to the union of the three City of London Ashkanazi synagogues (the Great Synagogue, the Hambro' Synagogue and the New Synagogue) as well as their two West End branch synagogues (the Central Synagogue and the Bayswater Synagogue. The union was forged by Chief Rabbi Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler.

The following is the definitio of the objects of the United Synagogue, as stated in the Act:

"The objects of the Institution to be called the United Synagogue shall be the maintaining, erecting, founding, and carrying on in London and its neighbourhood, places of worship for persons of the Jewish religion, who conform to the Polish or German ritual, the providing of means of burial of persons of the Jewish religion, the relief of poor persons of the Jewish religion, the contribution with other Jewish bodies to maintenance of a Chief Rabbi and other ecclesiastical persons, and to the communal duties devolving upon metropolitan congregations and other charitable purposes in conection with the Jewish religion."

Congregations

Over the years the number of congregations have grown from the initial five to more than sixty member or affiliated congregations today. For most of its history the union consisted almost exclusively of congregations in London and the home counties. However, recently, provincial congregations have joined the union, beginning with the Sheffield congregation in 2016 followed by the Birmingham Central Synagogue in 2017.

Synagogues within the United Synagogue network currently may generally be described either as member synagogues (previously called constituent synagogues) or affiliated synagogues.  Previous categories included district synagogues (a half-way stage between affiliated and constituent, all of which became member synagogues in about 1976) and associated synagogues (a scheme that existed between 1902 and 1948).  The Western Marble Arch Synagogue has a special status described as an associate synagogue. 

In addition, in light of  needs during the World War II, due primarily to the evacuation of many of the inhabitants of London to outlying regions, the United Synagogue established 22 new congregations, known as Membership Groups, primarily in the home counties and southern England. A number of these progressed to become full members of the United Synagogue.

Past and present congregations of the United Synagogue are listed below. Currently active congregations are marked with an asterisk.


Member or Constituent - active:

Member or Constituent - defunct or no longer independently active:


Associate:

Supported or Initiative:

Affiliated - Active:

Affiliated, District or Associated - defunct:

Active (former Associate), but seceded from United Synagogue:

United Synagogue Membership Groups (WWII):

Status indicated above refers to highest status achieved within the United Synagogue.

*  A congregation that is still active.

Φ  A congregation previously affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues, or into which a congregation previously affiliated to the Federaion has been merged.

 

 


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the All-UK Database associated with the United Synagogue:

Burials

Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road (Western Synagogue), (25 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Buckingham Road Cemetery, West Ham
(United Synagogue), (80 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Edmonton Cemetery
(Western Synagogue), (22 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Marlow Road Cemetery, East Ham
(United Synagogue), (116 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs)
Plashet Cemetery, Manor Park
(United Synagogue), (79 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Willesden Cemetery
(United Synagogue), (229 records*, of which 158 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Miscellaneous other cemeteries (33 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs).
*A search in the database may also reveal duplicates of some of these records on the
JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Register (JOWBR).

Communal Leaders

Jewish Directory for 1874  (213 United Synagogue records).

Seatholders Lists

1885, 1899 and/or 1910 (13,442 records), in respect of the following United Synagogue congregations:
Bayswater Synagogue; Borough Synagogue; Brondesbury Synagogue; Central Synagogue; Dalston Synagogue; East London Synagogue; the Great Synagogue; the Hambro' Synagogue; Hammersmith & West Kensington Synagogue; Hampstead Synagogue; the New Synagogue; the New West End Synagogue; North London Synagogue; South Hackney Synagogue; St. John's Wood Synagogue; and Stoke Newington Synagogue.

 

 

Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the United Synagogue

on JCR-UK

  

Cemeteries of the United Synagogue

  • #Alderney Road Cemetery (disused), Stepney, London E1
    The first Ashkanazi cemetery in Britain following the Resettlement. Opened by the Great Synagogue in 1896, extended in 1749 and closed in 1852. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Alderney Road)

  • Hoxton Cemetery (no longer exists), Hoxton Street, London N1
    Opened by the Hambro' Synagogue in 1707 and closed in 1878 (although burials had ceased some years earlier). Comprised about quater of an acre. In the mid 1960s, the human remains were transferred to West Ham Cemetery and the site redeveloped. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Hoxton)

  • #Brady Street Cemetery (disused), Whitechapel, London E1 
    Opened by the New Synagogue in 1761 and subsequently also used by Great Synagogues. Closed in 1858. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Brady Street)

  • #Hackney Cemetery, Lauriston Road (disused), London E9
    Opened by the Hambro' Synagogue in 1788 and closed in 1866. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Hackney)

  • #West Ham Cemetery (closed), Buckingham Road, Forest Lane, London E15 1SP
    Opened in 1856 by the New Synagogue and subsequently transferred to the Great Synagogue. Closed in 2002 "due to health and safety". (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - West Ham)

  • #Willesden Cemetery (generally full, unless plot reserved), London NW10 2JE
    Opened in 1873. Comprises 23 acres. In August 2017, the funerary buildings at the cemetery were granted Grade II listing by England Heritage. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Willesden United)

  • #Plashet Cemetery (closed), 361 Manor Park, High Street North, London E12 6PQ
    Opened in 1896 and now generally closed (but with occasional burials). (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Plashet)

  • #East Ham Cemetery (disused), Marlow Road, High Street South, London E6 3QG
    Opened in 1919 and now full. Comprises about 25 acres. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - East Ham)

  • #Waltham Abbey Cemetery (active), Upshire Hall, Skillet Hill (Honey Lane), Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 3QT
    Opened 1960. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Waltham Abbey)

  • #Bushey Cemetery (active), Little Bushey Lane, Bushey, Hertfordshire WD2 3TP
    Opened 1967. In May 2017, an extensive additional section was added, referred to as the Bushey New Cemetery. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Waltham Abbey)

  • Sheffield - Ecclesfield Jewish Cemetery (active), 85 Colley Rd, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S5 9GU
    The oldest section of cemetery was acquired in 1872. Cemetery became a United Synagogue Cemetery when the Sheffield Jewish Congregation joined the United Synagogue in 2016. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Sheffield)

  • #Eretz Hachaim Cemetery, near Beit Shemesh, Israel (active)
    The United Synagogue has an arrangement whereby members may be buried in Israel through the purchase of a plot in the United Synagogue section of this cemetery.(For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Beit Shemesh, Israel)

# As regards these cemeteries (marked with the hash sign), the United Synagogue "Find a Grave" search facility at https://www.theus.org.uk/gravesearch enables one to search for a grave. The search result will generally include the date of burial, the position of the grave and a photograph of the gravestone, if available. The search facility also includes the non-United Synagogue cemeteries of Aldershot, Bancroft Road and Dover.

 

Chief Rabbis of the United Kingdom(3)
The biographical information for the list below is currently a work in progress

  • Rabbi Aaron Hart* - from 1704 to 1756

Previously known as Uri Phoebus. Born in Breslau, Germany, in 1670, the son of Hartwig (Naphtali Hertz) Moses, formerly of Hamburg. He studied at a yeshiva in Poland and married the daughter of Rev. Samuel ben Phoebus of Fürth. Aaron's younger brother, Moses Hart, came to England in 1697, where a wealthy close relative, Benjamin Levy, had founded what became known as the Great Synagogue, London's first Askanazi synagogue following the 1556 Resettlement of Jews in England. Aaron joined his brother in London, who had amassed a fortune as a broker, partly through the assistance of Benjamin Levy, and was also now very influential in the synagogue. In 1705, Aaron, largely due to the influence of Moses, was  appointed rabbi of synagogue. As his authority grew and was recognised by Ashkanazi congregations that were springing up in provincial towns, Aaron is regarded as Britain's first chief rabbi. He died in office in London in 1756. See also Jewish Encyclopedia online articles on Aaron Hart and Moses Hart.

  • Rabbi Hart Lyon* - from 1758 to 1764

  • Rabbi David Tevele Schiff - from 1765 to 1791

  • (Rabbi Meshullam Solomon - from 1865 to 1780**)

  • (vacant 1791 to 1802)

  • Rabbi Solomon Hirschell - from 1802 to 1842

  • Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler - from 1845 to 1890

  • Rabbi Hermann Adler - from 1891 to 1911 (Delegate Chief Rabbi from 1879 due to father's failing health)

  • Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz - from 1913 to 1946

  • Rabbi Israel Brodie - from 1948 to 1965

  • Rabbi Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits (knighted in 1981 and Lord Jakobovits from 1988) - from 1966 to 1991

  • Rabbi Dr Jonathan Henry Sacks (knighted in 2005 and Lord Sacks from 2009) - from 1991 to 2013

  • Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis - from 2013 to present (June 2017)

* Rabbis of the Great Synagogue, who effectively performed the function of Chief Rabbis, although not formally appointed as Chief Rabbis.

** Appointed as Chief Rabbi by the Hambro' and New Synagogues, but stood down in 1780 confirming the primacy of Rabbi Schiff.

 

Synagogal Organisation in the United Kingdom

London Jewish Community home page

________________

Notes & Sources ( 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. ibid.

  3. The biographical information (© David Shulman) has been extracted from a number of publications, including the Jewish Enclyclpedia, c.1906, the History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth, 1950, Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972, and British Chief Rabbis 1664-2006 by Derek Taylor, 2007, which latter publication includes a separate chapter of each chief rabbi.

 

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