Amersham & Chesham Jewish Community





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The Towns of Amersham & Chesham

Amersham and Chesham are adjacent towns in the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire, in south central England, with populations of about 17,000 and 21,000, respectively. Chesham Bois, is a village adjacent to the two towns. Though some distance from London, Amersham and Chesham are connected to the London Underground system.

In 1974 the Chesham Urban District and the Amersham Rural District (both formed in 1894) were merged to form the local government District of Chiltern. This on 1 April 2020 was merged with all other local authorities in Buckinghamshire, other than Milton Keynes, to form the unitary authority of the Buckinghamshire Council.

The Jewish Community in Amersham and Chesham

The first Jewish community was founded during World War II, by families evacuated from London, which lasted into the 1960's. Subsequently a Liberal congregation was established.

Jewish Congregations

The following are the Jewish congregations that exist or existed in Amersham and Chesham:

* An active congregation.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Amersham and Chesham include:



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


Rabbi in Green Jacket

on third party websites

Notable Jewish Connections with Amersham and Chesham

  • Chesham was represented in the House of Commons by three members of the Rothschild family from 1885 until 1922, when it comprised part of the then Aylesbury constituency: Ferdinand de Rothschild (1885-1899); Walter Rothschild (1899-1910) and Lionel de Rothschild (1910-1922).

  • Elias Canetti (1905-1994), who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1981, lived at Chesham Bois for a time during World War II.

  • Maurice Edelman (1911-1975), who lived in Clifton Road, Chesham Bois, was the author of several books, including a biography of David Ben Gurion. He was Labour MP for Coventry constituencies from 1945 until his death.

  • Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu (b.1932), who became head of the Manchester and then the United Synagogue's Beth Din, attended Dr Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham, his father Rabbi Yisroel Ehrentreu, having served as minister in Chesham during World War II. David Stamler was a classmate, who went on to become the Head of Carmel College.

  • Stephen Fry (b.1957), actor, broadcaster, comedian, director and writer, spent part of his childhood in Chesham, attending Chesham Prep School as detailed in his autobiography Moab is my Washpot.

  • Walter Goehr (1903–1960) embarked on a conducting career in Berlin, before being forced as a Jew to leave Germany. He was living in Amersham by 1939. His wife Laelia, a pianist, cabaret artist and photographer, set up her own photographic studios in Amersham. Their son, Professor Alexander Goehr (b.1932), a composer, grew up in Amersham where he was taught by Józef Żmigrod (see below).

  • Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (1906–1996) lived for a time at Chesham Bois. She has been described as one of Austria's leading painters in the 20th century, but partly of Jewish descent she had to flee Nazi persecution.

  • Sir Michael Sobell (originally Sobel) (1892–1993), a British Jewish businessman, major philanthropist, and a prominent owner/breeder of thoroughbred racehorses, relocated his factory manufacturing radio equipment from London to Chesham during the World War II. He lived in nearby Beaconsfield.

  • Józef Żmigrod (stage name Allan Gray) (1902–1973), was a Polish composer, best known for his film scores. Working and studying in Germany, he was forced to leave the country by the Nazis. He was living in Amersham by 1936 and apart from a period of internment as an enemy alien during World War II, he lived in Amersham for the rest of his life.


Other Chiltern Jewish Institutions & Organisations

  • Amersham Jewish Circle - existing from at least 1945 to about 1947.(xi) +

  • Amersham and Chesham Society - existing from at least 1945 to about 1947.(xii)

  • Amersham Women's Zionist Society - existing from at least 1945 to about 1946.(xiii)


Community Records

  • Registration District (for BMD): Buckinghamshire (since 1 July 2007) - office situated in Aylesbury, Bucks.

    • Previous Registration Districts:
         Amersham (from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1974);
         Chiltern & Beaconsfield (from 1 April 1974 to 1 June 1988);
         Chiltern & South Bucks (renaming) (from 1 June 1988 to 1 November 1989); and
         Chiltern Hills (from 1 November 1989 to 1 July 2007).

    • Any registers would now be held by current register office.

    • Link to Register Office website


Jewish Cemetery Information

There are no Jewish cemeteries in Buckinghamshire.


Amersham & Chesham Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Year Book 1948)


80 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1953)


12 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1964)



(The Jewish Year Book 1987)



(The Jewish Year Book 2000)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) to (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1967

  • (xii) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1967

  • (xiii) Listed only in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6

Bibliography - Amersham & Chesham

Jewish Congregations in Buckinghamshire

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 1 March 2006
Data significantly expanded: 11 October 2021
Page most recently amended: 29 Deceber 2022

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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