the former

Birkenhead Synagogue

& Jewish Community

Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside




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

Town of Birkenhead

Birkenhead (population about 90,000) is a town on the Wirral peninsula, situated on the west bank of the river Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool. It was a county borough geographically in the county of Cheshire until 1974 when it was incorporated into the metropolitan borough of Wirral in the metropolitan county of Merseyside. In 1986, Wirral became a unitary authority, when the metropolitan county of Merseyside lost its administrative status, becoming purely a ceremonial county.

Birkenhead Jewish Community

Although there was a small number of Jews in Birkenhead from at least the middle of the nineteenth century, it was not until the end of that century that an organised Jewish congregation was established, although numbers have since dwindled and the synagogue has closed.

For much of the twentieth century, Birkenhead was a national centre for shechita as it was the main port for the import of animals into the U.K. Shechita stopped there in 1968.

Congregation Data


Birkenhead Synagogue

Last Address:

41 Balls Road, Birkenhead, from about 1937.(iii)

Previous Addresses:

94 Chester Street, Birkenhead, about 1914 until about 1937.(iv)

2A Price Street, Birkenhead, from at least 1910 until about 1914.(v)

Previously the congregation held services in rooms in Hinson Street, and before that Argyle Street.(vi)

Date Founded:

Founded in 1890.(ix)

Current Status:

Closed in about the early 1970s.(x)


Ashkenazi Orthodox.


The congregation was unaffiliated but 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. Joseph J. Rosin - Prior to 1903(xii)

Rev. Maurice David Hershman - about 1912(xiii)

Rev. H. (or Simon) Finklestein - from about 1903 until about 1924(xiv)

Rev. F. Cohen - from about 1917 until about 1921(xv)

Rev. Moshe Mordechai Myerson - from an unknown date until about 1926(xvi)

Rev. Alec Myerson - from 1926 until 1950 (thereafter returning to the post from time to time, when required.) (xvii)

Rev. Norman Zalud - from 1955 until about 1959(xx)

Rabbi M. Aaronberg - from 1962 until about 1964(xxi)

Rev. Nathan Shenny - from 1964 until 1965(xxii)

Rev. Solomon Greenstein - from 1965 until about 1973(xxiii)

Lay Officers:

All listings below of lay officers of the congregation have been extracted from Jewish Year Books.(xxvii)


1902-1903 - H.L. Cohen

1903-1910 - P. Liverman

1910-1919 - D. Belcher

1919-1928 - H. Wolfe

1928-1930 - L. Tearle

1930-1934 - H. Black

1934-1935 - L. Makin

1935-1938 - N. Halter

1938-1940 - H. Black

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1947 - H. Black

1947-1951 - C. Best

1951-1953 - Dr. I. Casdan

1953-1955 - Dr. S. Harris

1955-1957 - E.A. Simans

1957-1966 - no data

1966-1973 - A. Tearle


1952-1957 - C. Best


1903-1907 - H.L. Cohen

1907-1910 - D. Belcher

1910-1919 - H. Wolfe

1919-1928 - L. Tearle

1928-1930 - H. Black

1930-1932 - S. Freedman

1932-1934 - M. Harris

1934-1935 - N. Halter

1935-1938 - A. Symons

1938-1940 - I. Baker

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1947 - I. Baker

1947-1952 - no data

1952-1955 - Dr. E. Cohen

1955-1957 - Dr. P. Kessley

Hon. Secretaries

1903-1908 - J. Benson

1908-1917 - H. Jackson

1917-1921 - H. Jacobs

1921-1928 - H. Black

1928-1930 - S. Freedman

1930-1935 - A. Symons

1935-1938 - S. Harris

1938-1940 - L.B. Berkson

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1947 - L.B. Berkson

1947-1951 - M. Best

1951-1963 - S. Turner

1963-1966 - Dr. E. Gold

Registration District (BMD):

Wirral (since 1 April 1998)(xxviii) - Link to Register Office Website.

Cemetery Data:

There is no Jewish cemetery in Birkenhead, nor elsewhere in Wirral.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Birkenhead include:

1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

Individuals in the "1851" database who were living in Birkenhead during the 1840s (3 records), 1850s (21 records), 1860s (9 records), 1870s (5 records), 1880s (2 records), 1890s (2 records), 1900s (1 record) and 1910s (5 records).


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Birkenhead Jewish Community


Notable Jewish Connections with Birkenhead

  • Arnold Bloom JP (d.1910) was the first (and only known) Jewish Mayor of Birkenhead, 1907-1908.

  • Lord Cohen of Birkenhead - Henry Cohen, 1st Baron Cohen of Birkenhead, CH FRCP (1900-1977), a physician, doctor and lecturer who was also very active in Jewish community life, was born in Birkenhead. He served as President, respectively, of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, and the Royal Society of Medicine, as well as Chancellor of Hull University. Lord Cohen was also associated with the Hebrew University, the Weizmann Institute and Magen David Adom in Israel. He was created a peer in 1956 after being knighted in 1949 and in 1974 he was appointed a Companion of Honour for services to medicine.


Birkenhead Jewish Population Data


about 100

(The Jewish Year Book 1904/05)


about 75

(The Jewish Year Book 1940)


about 50

(The Jewish Year Book 1945/6)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) The Jewish Chronicle of 8 January 1937 reported on the acquisition of Balls Road premises, then a large house known as Normanston, and anticipated that building, following alterations, would be ready in time for Rosh Hashana services. However, Balls Road was not listed in the Jewish Year Book until 1945/6.

  • (iv) This was the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1915 through 1940, however it is believed that the congregation moved to the Balls Road premises by late 1937.

  • (v) This was the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1911 through 1914, prior to which, no address was given.

  • (vi) The Jewish Chronicle report of 8 January 1937.

  • (vii) and (viii) Reserved.

  • (ix) Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (x) Although the congregation continued to be listed until the Jewish Year Book 1973, it possibly closed a year or two earlier.

  • (xi) Reserved.

  • (xii) Rev. Rosin's Jewish Chronicle obituary dated 11 June 1948 states he served as minister in Birkenhead and Wolverhampton before emigrating to South Africa. He arrived at Wolverhampton no later than 1903. He is not listed Jewish Year Books with reference to Birkenhead.

  • (xiii) Jolles Encyclopaedia of Chatanim, etc.(first edition), p.494.

  • (xiv) Listed in Jewish Year Books, as Rev. H. Finkelstein, as minister and reader from 1903/4 through 1910 and as reader from 1911 through 1926. A tribute by the congregation in the Jewish Chronicle of 15 June 1928, stated that Rev. Simon Finklestein had served as minister in Birkenhead for 21 years.

  • (xv) Based upon Rev. Cohen's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1918 through 1921

  • (xvi) Jewish Chronicle obituary of 22 January 1926 and review on 3 September 1926 of the Jewish year, records Rev. M.M. Myerson having died in office at Birkenhead. He is not listed in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xvii) Rev. A. Myerson was listed in Jewish Year Books as reader of the congregation from 1927 through 1940 and as minister of the congregation from 1945/6 through 1950. (There were no Jewish Year Books published in the intervening years, during which period Rev. Mayerson served as a chaplain to the armed forces, but probably retained his post at Birkenhead.) In 1963, the congregation made a presentation to Rev. Myerson, in recognition of his many years' service as minister, "an office he has now relinquished" Jewish Chronicle report of 23 August 1963.

  • (xviii) and (xix) Reserved.

  • (xx) The Jewish Chronicle of 7 August 1959 reported on the departure of Rev. Zalud, adding that he had been minister since 1955. However, he is only listed as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1959..

  • (xxi) The Jewish Chronicle of April 1962 reported that the congregation had appointed Rabbi M. Aaronberg as its minister, the position having been vacant since 1959. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1963 and 1964.

  • (xxii) The Jewish Chronicle of 21 August 1964 reports N. Shenny's appointment as minister of the congregation and a 1965 report states that he was replaced by Rev. Greenstein. He is listed as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Books 1965.

  • (xxiii) The Jewish Chronicle of 2 July 1965 reported that Rev. Solomon Greenstein had been appointed minister of the congregation and had assumed his duties. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1966 through 1973 (the last occasion the congregation was listed).

  • (xxiv) to (xxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxvii) Where a person is first listed in a Jewish Year Book as holding a particular office, it is generally assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book. Initially year books corresponded to the Hebrew year, and thus ran roughly from autumn of one year until autumn of the next year, and were published in late summer. 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 1935 through 1938, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1934 and continued in office until 1938. However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ from those shown here. Jewish Year Books were not published during World War II subsequent to 1940, nor were there any listings of lay officers (other than secretary) subsequent to 1956.

  • (xxviii) Previous registration districts: Wirral - 1 July 1837 to 2 July 1861; Berkenhead - 2 July 1861 to 1 April 1998. Any registers would now be held by the current register office.


Wirral Jewish Community home page


Jewish Congregations in Merseyside

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 21 August 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 20 June 2021
Page most recently amended: 23 April 2023

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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