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Bletchley Hebrew Congregation

Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

 

 

   

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

Town of Bletchley

Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, (population about 37,000) is now a constituent town of the "new city" of Milton Keynes, and is situated in the south-west of Milton Keynes. It is best known for Bletchley Park, the headquarters during World War II of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), Britain's codebreaking organisation, which broke the German Enigma code, and is now a major tourist attraction.

Since 1974, Bletchley has been part of the local government district (later borough) of Milton Keynes, which in 1997, became a unitary authority, remaining within the county of Buckinghamshire for ceremonial purposes. It was, until 1974, within the Bletchley Urban District (which was known as Fenny Stratford Urban District from 1895 to 1911).

Bletchley Jewish Community

The Jewish community was founded in Bletchley during World War II, with the establishment of a strictly orthodox evacuee congregation. In addition, many Jewish men and women were part of the wartime code breaking operations at Bletchley Park. The Bletchley congregation closed shortly following the end of the war.

Congregation Data

Name:

Bletchley Hebrew Congregation

Address:

9-11 High Road, Bletchley, Buckinghamshire.(ii)

Formation and Affiliation:

Formed prior to July 1941, when a gathering was held to mark the congregation's affiliation with the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC), and was one of very few evacuee congregations affiliated to the UOHC. Rabbi Dr S. Schonfeld was the guest of honour at the gathering.(iii)

Date Closed:

Closed in about 1946.(iv)

Ritual:

Ashkenazi - Strictly Orthodox

Rabbi:

Rabbi A. J. Teitlebaum served the congregation, probably until about 1946.(ix)

Lay Officers:(x)

Chairman - J. Kleiman

Hon. Secretary - F. Segal

Registration District (BMDs):

See registration district details on Milton Keynes home page.

Cemetery Details

There are no Jewish cemeteries in Bletchley or elsewhere in Milton Keynes. See cemeteries of the UOHC.

 

Other Bletchey Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • The Beth Jacobs schools began classes at Bletchley in 1940 and at other centres for evacuated pupils.

  • Hebrew Classes. Jewish evacuee children came from Edlesbrough, Dunstable and Winslow to attend Hebrew classes in Bletchley. In June 1941 the strictly Orthodox Keren HaTorah organisation directed nationally by Rabbi Gellas and the Joint Emergency Committee under the Chief Rabbi's authority, clashed in the Jewish Chronicle as to which organisation was responsible for the institution of Hebrew classes at Bletchley. Rabbi Baumgarten and Mrs Annie Wachsmann were the teachers in charge of the respective classes.

  • Yeshiva. In the early 1940s Rabbi Chayim Weingarten (1873-1970) launched his yeshiva at Bletchley with approximately six students. By 1945 it had moved to premises between Staines and Egham and became known as the Staines Jewish Theological College and Preparatory Classes, occupying much larger premises by 1947.(xv)

 

Notable Jewish Connections with Bletchley

  • Joe Dindol (1920-2008) Jewish comedian, grew up in Bletchley where his parents opened a small drapers shop in the 1920s.

  • Sir Herbert Samuel Leon, 1st Baronet (1850-1926) was a stockbroker and financier and Liberal MP for Buckingham (1891 1895), who purchased the Bletchley Park estate in 1883 and constructed the Bletchley Park mansion. The estate was retained by the family until 1938. During World War II, the mansion and much of the estate became the headquarters of GC&CS, Britain's codebreaking organisation. The Sir Herbert Leon Academy and the Leon Leisure Centre at Bletchley are named in his honour as a local benefactor.

  • Nicholas Hugh Sebag Montefiore (born 1955), a descendant of Sir Herbert Samuel Leon, is the author of Enigma: The Battle for the Code, the story of breaking the German Enigma machine code at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

  • AJEX archivist Martin Sugarman has traced some 250 Jewish war time participants at Bletchley Park, many of whom were key code breakers (World War II: Jewish Personnel at Bletchley Park). Some of the notable figures among these Jewish participants were the following:

    • Richard Barnett (1909-1986), a distinguished orientalist who became Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities at the British Museum.

    • Peter Benenson (1921-2005), a lawyer who founded Amnesty International.

    • Laurence Jonathan Cohen (1923-2006), leading Oxford philosopher.

    • Walter George Ettinghausen (1910-2001), later Walter Eytan, Director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israelís Ambassador to France.

    • Albert Ernest Ettinghausen, MBE (1913-2001), brother of Walter

    • Joe Gillis (1911-1993), mathematician, born in Sunderland, lecturer at Queen's University Belfast, hosted Jewish and Zionist gatherings for those working at Bletchley Park. He later became a professor at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.

    • Professor Samuel Julius Gould (1924-2019), sociologist at Nottingham University and co author of Jewish Life in Modern Britain (1964).

    • Professor Bernard Lewis (1916-2018), historian of Islam and the Middle East.

    • Vivian David Lipman (1921-1990), later Director of Ancient Monuments and leading Anglo-Jewish historian (VD Lipman).

    • Hyam Z. Maccoby (1904-2004), Sunderland-born Professor of Jewish Studies at Leeds, and a prolific author on Biblical subjects.

    • Rolf Noskwith (1919-2017) who at the age of 22 broke the "Offizier" Enigma code used by the German navy's headquarters to communicate with officers in U-boats. After the war he turned Charnos, the lingerie company founded by his father, into a major business in the garment industry. He funded two chairs at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

    • Dame Miriam Louisa Rothschild-Land, (1908-2005), daughter of Nathaniel Charles Rothschild and a noted zoologist

    • Ruth Sebag-Montefiore (1916-2015), who was a great niece of Sir Herbert Samuel Leon and became the matriarch of the the Sebag-Montefiore family. She published A Family Patchwork: Five Generations of an Anglo-Jewish Family, her memoirs including her time at Bletchley Park and her family's historic connection to the estate.

 

Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) Address listed in the Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947.

  • (iii) Jewish Chronicle of 25 July 1941.

  • (iv) The last listing was in the Jewish Year Book listed 1947 (published at the end of 1946). There are no later references to the congregation.

  • (v) to (viii) Reserved.

  • (ix) Rabbi A.J. Teitlebaum is listed as rabbi of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947.

  • (x) Lay officers listed in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947.

  • (xi) to (xiv) Reserved.

  • (xii) Jewish Chronicle of 5 September 1947.


Milton Keynes Jewish Community home page

Jewish Congregations in Buckinghamshire

Jewish Communities of England homepage


Page created: 1 May 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 30 July 2021
Latest revision or update: 1 August 2021


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