the former

Ayr Hebrew Congregation

& Jewish Community

Ayr, South Ayrshire, Scotland




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

Town of Ayr

The town of Ayr, with a population of about 60,000, is situated on the Firth of Clyde in south west Scotland. Although traditionally the county town of Ayrshire, since 1996 it has formed part of South Ayrshire, a unitary council region. From 1975 to 1996, the area covered by South Ayrshire was known as Kyle and Carrick, and was a district within the now defunct Strathclyde Region.

Ayr Jewish Community

There were Jewish families in Ayr from at least the early 1850s and a small but vibrant Jewish community had been formally established in the beginning of the twentieth century. The Ayrshire coast also had a number of kosher boarding houses, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, catering principally for members of the Glasgow Jewish community, including the Invercloy Hotel in Ayr, reputedly Scotland's only kosher hotel, which closed, with the synagogue, in the 1970s (see below). There was also a war-time hostel for Jewish evacuee and refugee children at Birkenward in Skelmorlie, north Ayrshire from at least 1940.

Congregation Data


Ayr Hebrew Congregation

Last Known Address:

Invercloy Hotel, 56 (later 52) Racecourse Road, Ayr (from late 1950s to at least 1969)(ii)

The hotel had been bought by the community after the war and hosted the synagogue and community hall as well as a tenant (presumably running the hotel).

Previous Addresses:

54a Sandgate, Ayr (from at least 1940s until late 1950s)(iii)

184 High Street, Ayr (dates uncertain)(iv)

Temporary premises - Liberal Club Chambers, 69 Sandgate, Ayr (about 1923 to at least 1929)(v)

45 Kyrle Street, Ayr (from at least 1909 until about 1923)(vi)

Date Founded:



Closed. The congregation became defunct in the mid 1970s(ix).

The Jewish Chronicle
of 11 October 1974 (page 31) had the following notice:


Established nearly 40 years. Excellently situated in own grounds near beach, and containing the local synagogue. Applications, invited from suitable persons with capital for necessary expenditure, should be addressed to: The Chairman, C. Freeman, 59 Auchendoon Crescent, Ayr."


Ashkenazi Orthodox


None, but the congregation would have been under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

Ministers and Readers: (To view a short profile of a minister or reader whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. Abraham Dove - the congregation's first minister, to about 1905(xiii)

Rev. Abraham Isaac Edlin - minister in 1905(xiv)

Rev. David Lewis Halpern - minister from about 1909 until about 1911(xv)

Rev. Joshua Bach - possibly minister briefly in early 1911(xvi)

Rev. Leib Aisak Falk - minister from 1911 until about 1912(xvii)

Rev. Isaac Katz - minister in 1912(xviii)

Rev. David Hoppenstein - minister from 1912 until 1914(xx)

Rabbi Mordecai (Marcus) Katz - hon. minister from about 1921 until 1924(xxi)

Rev. Hyman Davies - minister from about 1936 until about 1948(xxii)

Rev. D.L. Landy - minister in about 1950(xxiii)

Rev. Samuel Knopp - minister from at least 1953 until 1955(xxiv)

C. Steen - reader from about 1956 until about 1960(xxv)

Lay Officers:

The following data on lay officers has been extracted from Jewish Year Books, the congregation being first listed in 1910.(xxx)


1910-1911 - S. Jackson

1911-1915 - David Zive

1915-1916 - H. Freeman

1916-1918 - E. Zive

1918-1919 - A. Alexander

1919-1923 - E. Zive

1923-1924 - E.T. Naftalin

1924-1929 - E. Zive

1929-1945 - no data

1945-1949 - H. Freeman


1946-1949 - B. Wober

1949-1956 - C. Freeman


1910-1914 - S. Jackson

1915-1916 - S. Freedman

1916-1919 - E. Zive

1919-1923 - E.T. Naftalin

1923-1929 - M. Roch

1929-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - Edward Cohen

1946-1950 - M.A. Green

1950-1956 - A. Steen


1949-1950 - J.K. HarrisE.T. Naftalin

1949-1956 - C. FreemanFrank Terret

Hon. Secretaries

1910-1915 - David Zive

1915-1921 - S. Freedman

1921-1929 - M. Zive

1929-1939 - no data

1939-1940 - M. Gold

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - Cecil Freeman

1946-1947 - Frank Terret

1947-1948 - S. Ansell

1948-1953 - T.N. Tolley

1953-1956 - E. Blint

1956-1960 - Frank Terret

1960-1962 - W. Golombok

1962-1965 - Frank Terret

1965-1966 - Mrs. T.N. Tolley

1966-1969 - T.N. Tolley

1969 to closure - I. Faith

Cemetery Information:

There is no known Jewish cemetery in Ayr.


Bibliography, Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Ayr Jewish Community


  • Bibliography:

    • "Jews of Ayrshire" by Harvey Kaplan (Shemot August 2017, Vol 25, 2, pp. 5-10).

    • Caledonian Jews - A Study of Seven Small Communities in Scotland by Nathan Abrams (2009).

    • other Scottish bibliography.

on Third Party websites 

Notable Former Jewish Residents of Ayr

  • Noam Dar (born 1993 in Israel), known as the "Israeli icon", was raised in Ayr and lived there until 2015. He is a British champion wrestler and the first Israeli-born professional wrestler to feature in WWE (the American-based World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.).

  • Harold Levy, author of Hebrew for All, and acknowledged as a leading expert in the teaching of Hebrew in Britain, was born in Ayr in 1909. He was Inspector of Hebrew classes in London and the provinces for the Central Council of Jewish Religious Education.

  • Oscar Slater (1872-1948), the German-born Jew, the victim of a infamous case of miscarriage of justice in Scotland, who was wrongly convicted of murder and initially sentenced to death and freed after 19 years of hard labour, settled in Ayr after his eventual release. (See "The case of Oscar Slater".)


Other Ayr Jewish Institutions

  • Ayr Zionist Society (founded 1904)

  • Jewish Discussion Group (founded by 1946) 

  • Ladies Guild (founded by 1949) 


Ayr Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Year Book 1945/46)



(The Jewish Year Book 1948)



(The Jewish Year Book 1955)



(The Jewish Year Book 1967)


Notes and Sources:
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved

  • (ii) This was the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1957 through 1969, although the road number changed from 56 to 52 in 1961 and the name of the hotel  was not given after 1959.

  • (iii) Sandgate was the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and from 1947 through 1956, although the number (54a) was only given from 1952.

  • (iv) Harvey Kaplan's article "Jews of Ayrshire" (Shemot, 2017) ("Kaplan's article") p.5 states that the synagogue was situated at this address, sometime after being at 45 Kyle Street.

  • (v) Jewish Year Books 1924 through 1929.

  • (vi) Jewish Year Books 1910 (the first listing of the congregation) through 1923.

  • (vii) Reserved.

  • (viii) Statement in Jewish Year Book 1955.

  • (ix) From 1970 the congregation was listed in Jewish Year Books just with the name and address of the hon. secretary, until 1976, when it was stated that "The Community has ceased to exist".

  • (x) to (xii) Reserved.

  • (xiii) Jewish Chronicle reports. In ("Kaplan's article"), p. 5, it states that Rev. Dove had left Ayr by 1905, although it is not known when he arrived in Ayr. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xiv) Also spelled Eidlin. The Jewish Chronicle of 3 October 1905 reported that he took High Holyday services in Ayr, although by a report of 26 October 1906 he was already in Dundee. Kaplan's article states he came to Ayr in 1905. He was not listed as minister of the congregatiion in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xv) The Jewish Chronicle reports of 12 December 1909 and 6 December 1910 place Rev. Halpern in Ayr. In 1913 He was appointed minister in Aberdeen. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Eidlin (Edlin). He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xvi) In February 1911, The Jewish Chronicle reported Rev. Bach's appointment as minister of the congregation. However, as Rev. Falk was elected minister two months later (see below), Rev. Bach's tenure must have been very short or he never took upthe position. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xvii) The Jewish Chronicle of 21 April 1911 reported Rev. Falk's election as minister of the congregation. There were various reports in 1912 placing him in Inverness. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Halpern. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xviii) The Jewish Chronicle of 2 February 1912 reported Rev. Katz's appointment as minister and teacher of the congregation. His successor was appointed by December 1912, although Jewish Year Books continue to list him as minister from 1912 through 1915. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Falk.

  • (xix) Reserved.

  • (xx) The Jewish Chronicle reports and paper on Rev. Hoppenstein's family history. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Katz. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xxi) Rev. Katz's Jewish Chronicle obituary dated 11 April 1924 states he was honorary minister at Ayr for three years until his death. He is listed as minister of the congregation only in the Jewish Year Book 1924.

  • (xxii) Jewish Chronicle reports of 22 August 1941 and 23 November 1945 place Rev. Davies in Ayr and his obituary of 8 November 1991 states that he "held posts in Birmingham and for 12 years in Ayr" before coming to Hull in 1948. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 (the were no publications during World War II) through 1949.

  • (xxiii) Based solely on Rev. Landy's listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1950. There are no Jewish Chronicle references to his being in Ayr and he is not mentioned in Kaplan's article, which states that Rev. Davies was succeeded by Rev. Knopp.

  • (xxiv) Jewish Chronicle reports of 8 May 1953 places Rev. Knopp in Ayr and the report of 14 January 1955, on his appointment in Dublin, refers to him as having served "for some years past" as minister and reader in Ayr. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1955 and 1956.

  • (xxv) Based upon C. Steen's listing as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1957 through 1960.

  • (xxvi) to (xxix) Reserved.

  • (xxx) Where a person is first listed in a yearbook as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant yearbook (which was generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing the title of the yearbook) and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. 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. The congregation was not listed in Jewish Year Books from 1930 through 1939 and it was not published during World War II subsequent to 1940.

Jewish Communities and Congregations in Scotland home page

Page created: 21 September 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 30 May 2021
Latest revision or update: 9 July 2021

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