Yeshivot in Great Offley

near Hitchin, Hertfordshire




JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website covering all Jewish communities and
congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.
NOTE: We are not the official website of the yeshiva.

Village of Great Offley

Great Offley is a village just three miles west of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, and some six miles east of Luton, Bedfordshire. It was within the urban district of Hitchin until 1974 when it (together with Hitchin) became part of the newly created local government district of North Hertfordshire, within the county of Hertfordshire. Its population is about 700.


In the early 1990s, a yeshiva (sometimes referred to as the Hitchin Yeshiva) was first established in Great Offley.

Initial Yeshiva


Yeshivas Toras Chessed (iii)


Established in about 1990 by Torah Chesed yeshiva of Cazenove Road, Stamford Hill, London N16, and supported by members of the Satmar congregation.(iv) A hope was expressed that the yeshiva would provide the nucleus of an offshoot community. 80 students were enrolled at the yeshiva at the time of the move from Stamford Hill.


Wellbury House, Great Offley, near Hitchin.(v) A former stately home which had served as a private school for Catholic boys.

However in March 1992, it was reported that 80 students at the yeshiva were living in portakabins (small prefabricated buildings that can be moved by truck and intended to be used for only a short period of time) on the estate because the main building was deemed unsatisfactory by health and safety authorities.(vi)

In 1998 a fire destroyed the yeshiva's synagogue.(vii)

In October 2002, the yeshiva was ordered to stay shut until safety work were completed after the building was described as a "death trap".(viii)

Rab and Rosh Yeshiva:

Rabbi A.S. Stern(xii)

Current Status:

The yeshiva relocated to London in about 2009,(xiii) when Rabbi A.S. Stern's health deteriorated. See Yeshivas Toras Chesed in Stamford Hill.


Ashkenazi Strictly Orthodox - Satmar Chassidish


Affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations(xiv)

Later Yeshiva


Yeshivas Ohr Torah(xxi)


Formed in about 2009 by Rabbi Y.M. Stern,(xxii) the brother of Rabbi A.S. Stern.


Wellbury House Estate, Great Offley, near Hitchin

Rab and Rosh Yeshiva:

Rabbi Y.M. Stern(xxiii)

Current Status:

Still functioning in 2023 although the main building on the site is derelict.


Ashkenazi Strictly Orthodox - Satmar Chassidish


Affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations(xxiv)


Disputes following the death of Rabbi A.S. Stern

Following the death of Rabbi A.S Stern in about 2009, a dispute arose regarding control of the land in Great Offley, which dispute referred to the Beit Din (religious court). The parties to the dispute were: Rabbi Y.M. Stern and Mr. B. Weisman (the Delegate of the Yeshivas Ohr Torah), who asserted that they were partners in the leadership of Yeshivas Toras Chessed prior to its relocation tp Stmaford Hill and thus the sole remaining trustees of the Great Offley estate; Rabbi A.S. Stern's family; and Rabbi Chaim Y. Babad, the successor to Rabbi A.S. Stern as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Toras Chesed, Stamford Hill. The beit din did not find for Rabbi Y.M.Stern and declared that Rabbi A.S. Stern had been the sole trustee. However, a compromise was then reached regarding shares in the land itself.

There had also been a dispute between Rabbi A.S. Stern's family and Rabbi Babad regarding the leadership of Yeshivas Toras Chessed, which the beit din found in favour of Rabbi Babad.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) Jewish Year Books 1999 through 2009.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle report of 7 September 1990.

  • (v) Address as per Jewish Year Books.

  • (vi) Jewish Chronicle report of 6 March 1992.

  • (vii) Jewish Chronicle report of 19 June 1998.

  • (viii) BBC News report of 3 October 2002.

  • (ix) to (xi) Reserved.

  • (xii) Listed as Rab in Jewish Year Books 1999 through 2009.

  • (xiii) Jewish Year Books listing from 1999 through 2009.

  • (xiv) The yeshiva was listed as a UOHC congregation in Jewish Year Books.

  • (xv) to (xx) Reserved.

  • (xxi) Listed under this name in Jewish Year Books from 2010.

  • (xxii) First listed in Jewish Year Book 2010.

  • (xxiii) listed as rab in Jewish Year Books 2010 through 2015 (the latest edition).

  • (xxiv) The yeshiva wase listed as a UOHC congregation in Jewish Year Books.


Community Records

  • Registration District (for BMD): Hertfordshire (since 1 April 2008).

    • Previous Registration Districts
         Hitchin (from 1 July 1837 to 1 March 1996);
         Hitchin & Stevenage (from 1 March 1996 to 1 April 2008).

    • Any registers would now be held by the current register office.

    • Link to Register Office website


Jewish Cemeteries Information

For Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations cemeteries, see Cemeteries of the UOHC. There is no Jewish cemetery in Hitchin.

Hitchin Jewish Community

Jewish Congregations in Hertfordshire

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 15 June 2017
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 15 August 2023
Page most recently amended: 20 August 2023

Research by David Shulman and Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman

Explanation of Terms   |   About JCR-UK  |   JCR-UK home page

Contact JCR-UK Webmaster:

JGSGB  JewishGen

Terms and Conditions, Licenses and Restrictions for the use of this website:

This website is owned by JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. All material found herein is owned by or licensed to us. You may view, download, and print material from this site only for your own personal use. You may not post material from this site on another website without our consent. You may not transmit or distribute material from this website to others. You may not use this website or information found at this site for any commercial purpose.

Copyright © 2002 - 2024 JCR-UK. All Rights Reserved