the former

Biggleswade Hebrew Congregation

and Jewish Community

(including Shefford)





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

Towns of Biggleswade and Shefford

Biggleswade (population about 16,000) is a market town in Bedfordshire situated about twelve miles to the west of Bedford and some 40 miles north of Central London. Shefford (population about 5,000) is a village that lies some 6 miles to the southwest of Biggleswade.

Until 1974, Biggleswade was in the Biggleswade Urban District and Shefford was in the Biggleswade Rural District, both in the county of Bedfordshire. In 1974 both districts became part of the local government district of Mid Bedfordshire, which was merged in 2009 with the district of South Bedfordshire to form the unitary authority of Central Bedfordshire, in the ceremonial county of Bedfordshire.

Jewish Community

An evacuee Jewish community was established in Biggleswade at the beginning of World War II, which included an organised Jewish congregation. In addition, during the war, an entire Jewish children's community of several hundred children was evacuated to close-by Shefford as part of "Operation Pied Piper". The children were primarily from an orthodox school in Stamford Hill (see below) and included many refugee children. The community was disbanded shortly following the end of hostilities in 1945.

Congregation Data


Biggleswade Hebrew Congregation


Services held in various locations, in particular the Memorial Hall in Biggleswade(ii)

Date Founded:

Congregation formed in 1939 by Jewish evacuees from heavily populated areas of London and including Jewish refugees from Central Europe.(iii)


Closed 1945(iv)


Orthodox - Ashkenazi


Rev. Harry Landy - - September 1942 to March 1944(v)

Lay Officers:

Currently no data


There is no Jewish cemetery in Biggleswade, Shefford nor elsewhere in Bedfordshire.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)


On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the Biggleswade and Shefford Jewish Community
Shefford : A Story of a Jewish School Community in Evacuation 1939-1945



Other Jewish Institutions & Organisations*

Educational & Theological

  • The Jewish Secondary School, evacuated to Shefford from Amhurst Park (Stamford Hill) from September 1939 to August 1945.
    Several hundred Jewish children were billeted in and around Shefford as part of "Operation Pied Piper", including a number of recent refugees rescued from Central Europe, primarily through the efforts of Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld as part of the Kindertransport.
    Headmaster - Dr. A. Levene;
    Headmistress - Dr. Judith Grunfeld


Communal Records

Registration District (BMD):

  • Central Bedfordshire (since 1 April 2009) - Link to Register Office website

  • Previous Registration Districts:
       Biggleswade - from 1 July 1837 to 1 May 1999;
       Bedfordshire - 1 May 1999 to 1 April 2009.
       (All registers would now be held by the current office.)

Jewish Congregations in Bedfordshire

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 24 January 2017
Latest revision or update: 18 January 2021

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