Birmingham Central Synagogue

Birmingham, West Midlands



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Birmingham Central Synagogue, May 2013,
prior to its sale and the congregation's move to the
adjacent synagogue hall in the summer of 2013.
David Shulman, 2013

Congregation Data


Birmingham Central Synagogue, from about 1949(iii)

Previous Names:

Birmingham Central Synagogue and Beth Hamedrash, from 1928(iv)

Birmingham Beth Hamedrash,(v) from founding


4 Speedwell Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B5 7PR - from Summer 2013(viii)
This building had originally been the congregation's community and functions hall on an adjacent plot to the then synagogue in Pershore Road. When the synagogue was sold in 2013, the hall building was extensively redeveloped and refurbished as a synagogue and community centre and was consecrated by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on 13 October 2013.

Previous Addresses:

133 Pershore Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B5 7PA -  from 1961 until the Summer 2013(ix)
This was a 700-seater purpose-built synagogue. Following its sale, the building was demolished and replaced by a home for the elderly.

120 Bristol Street, Birmingham - from 1928 to 1961(x)
Previously Bristol Hall, a red brick building that had previously been a Methodist hall.

Wrottesley Street, Birmingham - from 1901 to 1928(xi)
This was the old building of the Wrottesley Street Synagogue, that has existed as a rival congregation in 1853-1855. Consecration took place on 9 September 1901.

30 Holloway Head, Birmingham - from 1894 to 1901(xii)
following the move from these premises, services continued to be held here by the Old Beth Hamedrash (which became the New Synagogue)


From at least 1873, there had been several attempts to establish a Beth Hamedrash in the community, but the move was generally opposed by members of the Singers Hill Council. Services were held from time to time in peoples homes, in particular the home of Mr. B. Grossman in Belgrave Road, but it was not until 1894, that the congregation became established, with the taking of premises in Holloway Head.(xiii)

Current Status:



Ashkenazi Orthodox.


The congregation was unaffiliated but under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi. However, on 16 December 2016, the congregation became a full constituent member of  the United Synagogue. It was only the second Provincial syngogue to join the organisation.



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

Rev. L. Glickman - preceptor from at least 1897 until about 1900(xvii)

Rabbi Shmaryahu Isaac Bloch - the congregation's first rabbi, from 1902 until 1916(xviii)

Rabbi Zusman Hodes - rabbi from 1916 until 1942(xix)

Rabbi Reuben Rabinowitz - rabbi from 1943 until 1968, having served as assistant minister from 1930(xx)

Rabbi Mordechai (Marcus) Singer - minister from 1969 until 1994(xxi)

Rabbi Norman Solomon - temporary minister in 1994(xxiv)

Rabbi Chaim Rapoport - minister from 1994 to 1997(xxv)

Rabbi Adam Hill - minister from 1998 to 2005(xxvi)

Rabbi Shlomo Odze - minister from September 2005 to 2012(xxvii)

Rabbi Chanan Atlas - minister from February 2012 to April 2014(xxviii)

Rabbi Dr. Lior Kaminetsky - minister from August 2015 to 2021(xxix)

Rabbi Yossi Hambling & Rebbetzen Channah Hambling - rabbinic couple from July 2021 to present (July 2022)(xxx)

Assistant Ministers & Readers (Chazanim):
(other than those who subsequently served as Chief Minister)

Rev. Simon Chassim - reader from about 1902 until about 1913(xxxv)

Rev. I. Katz - reader from about 1918 until about 1921(xxxvi)

Rev. B.M. Alperovitz - reader from about 1921 until about 1922(xxxvii)

Rev. I. Woolf - reader from about 1930 until about 1931(xxxviii)

Rev. J.H. Gordon - reader from about 1945 until about 1948(xxxix)

Rev. M. Cantor - reader from about 1951 until about 1954(xlii)

Rev. Mordechai Berkowitz - reader from about 1956 and assistant minister from about 1965 until about 1968(xliii)

Rev. Joseph Trabinovitz - reader from 1962 until about 1970(xliv)

Rev. Malcolm Gingold - assistant minister from 1968 until about 1974(xlv)

Rev. Meir Lev - assistant minister from 1973 until about 1996(xlvi)

Lay Officers of the Congregation:

Unless otherwise indicated, the information on the congregation's officers below, has been extracted from Jewish Year Books, first published in 1896/7.(xlix) It was not published during the war years 1941 to 1945, nor were there any listings of lay officers (other than secretary) subsequent to 1956.


1896-1901 - M.L. Dight

1901-1903 - H. Michaelson

1903-1904 - B. Guerz

1904-1906 - Jacob Marks

1908-1909 - I.L. Goldberg

1909-1912 - S. Bernstein

1912-1918 - Jacob Marks

1918-1920 - S.M. Wolfsohn

1920-1923 - W. Marcusson

1923-1924 - B. Davis

1924-1925 - U. Mendelkorn

1925-1929 - I.W. Marcusson

1929-1936 - B. Ackerman

1936-1938 - B. Glass

1939-1940 - I. Woolf

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - H. Bernstein

1946-1947 - D.H. Levenson

1947-1949 - H. Bernstein

1949-1951 - A. Hamburger

1951-1953 - D.H. Levenson

1953-1955 - A. Hamburger

1955-1956 - D.H. Levenson


1929-1931 - D. Bernstein

1936-1939 - W. Blumenthal

1939-1940 - W. Jacobs

1945-1949 - H. Bernstein

1950-1951 - A. Hamburger

1955-1956 - H. Hamburger


1929-1936 - B. Ackerman

1929-1931 - G. Glass

1931-1940 - M. Glass

1936-1940 - I. Woolf

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - W. Baron

1947-1948 - A. Hamburger

1955-1956 - S. Galena

Vice Presidents

1901-1902 - L. Goodman

1904-1908 - B. Guert

1908-1909 - S. Bernstein

1912-1913 - B. Guert

1913-1918 - S.M. Wolfsohn

1920-1922 - S. Bernstein

1927-1931 - H. Glick

1931-1933 - I. Barron

1933-1936 - S. Pinnick

1936-1940 - U. MandelkornP. Epstein

1940-1946 - no data

1946-1947 - S. PraisI. Kaufman

1947-1948 - S. PraisD.H. Levenson

1948-1949 - S. PraisA. Hamburger

1949-1951 - S. LovestoneM. Marcus

1951-1953 - M. Marcus, S. PraisZ. Slymovits

1953-1955 - S. Galena, H. FinkF. Grossman


1896-1903 - B. Guerz

1903-1904 - S. Katz

1904-1906 - H. Michaelson

1906-1909 - Benjamin Harris

1909-1911 - A. Levenstein

1911-1912 - J. Marks

1912-1913 - S. Katz

1913-1915 - I. Cotton

1918-1920 - W. Marcusson

1920-1922 - D.H. Levenson

1922-1923 - W. Jacobs

1923-1924 - U. Mendelkorn

1924-1925 - B. Davis

1925-1928 - B. Ackerman

1929-1939 - G. Glass

1939-1940 - E. Cohen

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - E. Cohen

1946-1947 - T. Baron

1947-1949 - T. Rosenberg

1955-1956 - M. Zuckerman

Hon. Secretaries & Secretaries

1899-1930 - M. Lovestone

1930-1940 - Rabbi Reuben Rabinowitz

1940-1971 - no data

1971-1994 - Mrs. Miriam Cohen(l)

1994-1995 - Paul Hartheimer

1995-2005 - Sam Cohen

Membership Data:

Number of Seatholder

1938 - 370 (Jewish Year Book 1939)

National Reports and Surveys(li)

1977 - 325 male (or household) members and 121 female members

1983 - 310 male (or household) members and 84 female members

1990 - 330 individual or household members

1996 - 286 members (comprising 163 households, 34 individual male and 89 individual female members)

2010 and 2016 - listed as having 100 to 199 members (by household)

Charitable Status:

As a constituent of the United Synagogue, the congregation operates within that organisation's registered charity status (registered charity no. 242552). Prior to joining the United Synagogue, the congregation operated as a registered charity (no 501067), under the name Trust Property held in connection with Birmingham Central Synagogue registered on 10 September 1971(lii)

Worship Registration:

The synagogue at 133 Pershore Road, Edgbaston was registered as a Place of Worship - Worship Register Number 68283 - under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.(liii)


See Birmingham Jewish Cemeteries Information on Birmingham Jewish Community home page for burial prior to joining the United Synagogue in 2017. Subsequently, members became eligible for burial in the United Synagogue cemeteries, in particular, Bushey Jewish Cemetery.


 Online Articles and Other Material
relating to this Congregation


  • Photographs of the Synagogue and the former synagogue, provided by David Shulman and Steven Jaffe.


Birmingham Institutions closely connected with the
Beth Hamedrash and Central Synagogue

  • The Talmud Torah (children's religious classes), the importance assigned to which by the congregation could not be overestimated, was established in 1894 and continued to function until at least the 1990s.(lv) It was situated at the congregation's premises.

  • The Rabbinic Study Circle (from at least 1928 to at least 1938) met at the Central Synagogue after the morning service and before the evening service.(lvi)

  • Central Synagogue Aid Society for the London Jewish Hospital (from at least 1928 to at least 1933) - undertaking to contribute £50 annually to maintain a Birmingham bed at the Hospital.(lvii)


Congregational Records

Synagogue Records:

  • Marriage Records from 1947 held by the Synagogue


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) The congregation ceased using the words "Beth Hamedrash" in about 1949 (Jewish Year Book 1950), although until about 1957, it was frequently referred to as the Birmingham Central Synagogue and Talmud Torah (Jewish Year Book 1957).

  • (iv) The congregation adopted the name Central Synagogue in 1928 on its move to Bristol Hall - Birmingham Jewry More Aspects 1740-1950, editor Z. Josephs, p.27.

  • (v) Birmingham Jewry More Aspects 1740-1950, editor Z. Josephs, p.24.

  • (vi) and (vii) Reserved.

  • (viii) Jewish Year Book 2015.

  • (ix) Jewish Year Books 1962 through 2014. Birmingham Jewry 1749-1914, editor Z. Josephs, p.27.

  • (x) Jewish Year Books 1929 through 1961. Birmingham Jewry 1749-1914, editor Z. Josephs, p.27.

  • (xi) Jewish Year Books 1902/3 through 1928. Birmingham Jewry More Aspects 1740-1950, editor Z. Josephs, pp.25/26.

  • (xii) Jewish Year Books 1896/7 (the first edition) through 1901/2. Birmingham Jewry More Aspects 1740-1950, editor Z. Josephs, pp.24/26.

  • (xiii) Birmingham Jewry More Aspects 1740-1950, editor Z. Josephs, p.24.

  • (xiv) to (xvi) Reserved.

  • (xvii) Rev. Glickman is listed in Jewish Year Book 1899/1900 and 1900/01 as preceptor (tutor or principal). In Birmingham Jewry More Aspects 1740-1950, editor Z. Josephs, p.25, he is mentioned in 1897 as forming part of a delegation from the Beth Hamedrash.

  • (xviii) Jewish Chronicle of 28 July 1916 reported that Rabbi S.I. Bloch delivered his farewell sermon last Sabbath at the Beth Hamidrash, on his vacating his post as Rabbi, which he had held for nearly fifteen years. He is listed as raabi of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1902/3 through 1916.

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle of 22 December 1916 reported that at a special general meeting held last Sunday Rabbi Zussman Hodes, of Belfast was unanimously elected successor to Rabbi S. I. Bloch. Jewish Chronicle of 12 June 1942 reported that, after 26 years service as Rabbi of the Central Synagogue, Rabbi Hodes is retiring.

  • (xx) Jewish Chronicle Obituary 4 October 1968. He is listed as assistant minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1931 until publication ceased during World War II and is listed as rabbi of the congregation from the resumption of publication until 1968.

  • (xxi) Jewish Chronicle of 10 October 1969 reported that Rabbi M. Singer had begun his duties as Rav of the Birmingham Central Synagogue. His obituary states that he served in Birmingham for 25 years, from 1995 he was resident in Gateshead. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1970 through 1994

  • (xxii) and (xxiii) Reserved.

  • (xxiv) Rabbi Solomon's online biography.

  • (xxv) Jewish Chronicle of 22 July 1994 reported that Rabbi Chaim Rapoport, head of the rabbinical academy in Leeds, has been appointed to the Central Synagogue Birmingham. Jewish Chronicle of 12 September 1997 reported his departure from Birmingham to join the Ilford Synagogue. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1995 through 1997.

  • (xxvi) Jewish Chronicle of 28 August 1998 reported that Rabbi Adam Hill was welcomed to Birmingham's Central Synagogue with a kiddush. Jewish Chronicle of 15 April 2005 reported on his imminent departure.

  • (xxvii) Jewish Chronicle of 6 August 2005 reported the appointment of Rabbi Shlomo Odze, 26, as the new rabbi of Central Synagogue. Jewish Chronicle of 10 February 2012 reported the departure of Shlomo Odze to become associate rabbi at South Hampstead Synagogue. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 2006 through 2013.

  • (xxviii) Jewish Chronicle of 4 May 2012 reported that Rabbi Chanan Atlas was the new minister at Birmingham Central Synagogue. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 2014 and 2013.

  • (xxix) Online profile and congregation's website, accessed March 2021.

  • (xxx) Congregation's website, last accessed July 2022.

  • (xxxi) to (xxxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxxv) Listed under the name "S. Chassin" as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1902/3 through 1913.

  • (xxxvi) Listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1919 through 1921.

  • (xxxvii) Rev. Alperowitz was listed as reader of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1922.

  • (xxxviii) Rev. Woolf was listed as reader of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1931.

  • (xxxix) Rev. Gordon was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 through 1948.

  • (xl) and (xli) Reserved.

  • (xlii) Rev. Cantor was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1952 through 1954.

  • (xliii) Rev. Berkowitz was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1957 through 1962 and as assistant minister from 1966 through 1968.

  • (xliv) Rev. Trabonowitz was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1963 through 1973 although it would appear that he returned to Israel in about 1970.

  • (xlv) Rev. Gingold was listed as assistant minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1974 and 1975 although there are indications that he commenced serving some years earlier.

  • (xlvi) Rev. Lev was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1974 through 1997.

  • (xlvii) and (xlviii) Reserved.

  • (xlix) Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. Initially year books corresponded to the Hebrew year, and thus ran roughly from autumn of one year - the year of publication - until autumn of the next year. From 1909, year books were published according to the Gregorian year, being published generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing in the title of the year book. For example, if an officer is listed in Jewish Year Books 1919 through 1924, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1918 and continued in office until 1924. 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.

  • (l) Although the secretary as listed in Jewish Year Books during this period was "S. Cohen", a former member of the congregation has advised that the secretary was actually Miriam Cohen, the wife of Sam Cohen.

  • (li) 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.

  • (lii) Charity Commission website, last accessed July 2022.

  • (liii) Page 62 of the 2010 List of Places of Worship.

  • (liv) Reserved.

  • (lv) Date of founding given in Jewish Year Book 1940. It remained listed in Jewish Year Books until 1994.

  • (lvi) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1929 through 1938.

  • (lvii) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1929 through 1933.

Birmingham Jewish Community home page

List of United Synagogue Congregations

Jewish Congregations in West Midlands

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 6 June 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 27 July 2022
Page most recently amended: 27 February 2023

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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