JCR-UK

the former

Gerrards Cross Jewish Community

and United Synagogue Membership Group

Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

 

 

   

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

Town of Gerrards Cross

Gerrards Cross, in Buckinghamshire, with a current population of about 8,000, did not exist until 1859 and only achieved town status in 2016. It is situated about 20 miles northwest of central London, in the foothills of the Chiltern Hills, close to Beaconsfield and the Chalfonts.

Gerrards Cross was within the rural district of Eton, until 1974, when part of the rural district of Eton (including Gerrards Cross) was merged with the urban district of Beaconsfield to form the local government district of Beaconsfield in the county of Buckinghamshire. In 1980, the district was renamed South Bucks. On 1 April 2020 the district of South Bucks was merged with all other local authorities in Buckinghamshire, other than Milton Keynes, to form the unitary authority of the Buckinghamshire Council.

Gerrards Cross Jewish Community

The Jewish community was founded in Gerrards Cross during World War II, with the establishment of an evacuee congregation, and although Jewish families continued to live in the town following the war, the congregation did not survive beyond 1945. In the early 1970s, an attempt was made to revive the Jewish community and re-establish an organised orthodox Jewish congregation in the town, which proved unsuccessful.

Congregation Data

Name:

Gerrards Cross & District United Synagogue Membership Group

Formation:

The congregation was formed in July 1941, with first services taking place in August 1941.(ii)

Address:

Regular services and shiurim were initially held at "The Chilterns", Oxford Road, Denham.(iii)

By summer 1941, regular services were held every Sabbath at the Congregational Church Hall, Packhorse Road, Gerrards Cross.(iv)

By 1944 services were being held at Heathfield Hotel, Oxford Road, Gerrards Cross.(v)

The final Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in 1945 were held at Gerrards Cross Hall, Packhorse Road and the Council School, Gerrards Cross Common.

Date Closed:

Closed in about 1945/6(viii)

Ritual:

Ashkenazi Orthodox

Affiliation:

The congregation was a Synagogue Membership Group linked to the United Synagogue.

Ministers: (To view a short profile of a minister, hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. Montague Richardson - from 1941 until about 1942(ix)

Rev. L. Dimpson, BA - from 1942 until about 1945(x)

Lay Officers:

H. Gaventa - founder, chairman (elected 1941),  a warden (elected 1942 and 1943) and president (replaced 1945).(xiv)

M. Cohen - treasurer (elected 1941 to c.1942)(xv)

Leopold J. Hill - hon. secretary (elected 1941) and hon. secretary and treasurer (elected 1942, 1943 until at least 1945)(xvi)

J. Wineman - a warden (elected 1942 and 1943) and president (appointed 1945)(xvii)

Membership Data:

1942 - 90 members(xix)

Revival of Congregation:

In July 1970 the Gerrards Cross and Chalfonts Jewish Community was established with the encouragement of Rev. Malcolm Weisman and Rev. Alan Greenbat from the United Synagogue, as new families had settled in the area from London.(xx) The Jewish Chronicle reported on the first Friday night service, attended by 20 people, and thereafter occasional social events took place during 1970 to 1972. However, Gerrards Cross was within the catchment area of the growing Maidenhead Synagogue (reform) and the new South Bucks Liberal Jewish Community, as well as the Ruislip & District Affiliated Synagogue (United Synagogue), which was less than ten miles away. Accordingly, the experiment of reviving an independent community at Gerrards Cross did not survive long.

Registration District (BMDs):

Buckinghamshire, since 1 July 2008.(xxi) - Link to Register Office Website

Cemetery Details

See Cemeteries of the United Synagogue.

There is no Jewish cemetery in Buckinghamshire.

 

Rabbi in Green Jacket
The Rabbi in the Green Jacket
Memories of Jewish Buckinghamshire 1939-1945

Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Gerrards Cross Jewish Community

on JCR-UK

  • Selected Press Report and Extracts relating to the Beaconsfield Gerrards Cross Jewish Communities.

  • Bibliography:

    • The Rabbi in the Green Jacket - Memories of Jewish Buckinghamshire 1939-1945 (2025) by Vivien and Deborah Samson

 
Notable Jewish Connections with Gerrards Cross

  • Silas S. Perry, Zionist author and benefactor, lived in Gerrards Cross. In 1947, he established the Perry Foundation for Bible Research in the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

  • Michel Ray (birth name: Michel Ray Popper, later Michel Rey de Carvalho), a child and teenage actor during the 1950s and 1960s who represented Great Britain at three Winter Olympic Games (1968, 1972 and 1976), was born in Gerrards Cross in 1944. He was a son of Mr. H. Popper, a member of the West London Synagogue.

  • Herschel Saltzman (1915-1994), known as Harry Saltzman, was a Jewish Canadian theatre and film producer. He is best remembered for co-producing the James Bond films with Albert R. Broccoli. He lived most of his life in the village of Denham, adjacent to Gerrards Cross

 

Other Gerrards Cross Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Religion Classes, were held every Sunday at the Church Schools, Gerrards Cross.(xxiv)

  • Gerrards Cross, Denham and District Jewish Youth Circle. Rambling, swimming, boating, and cycling fixtures were arranged, in addition to discussions and other indoor activities.

  • Gerrards Cross Zionist Society (founded in spring 1942), was particularly active in significant fund raising and speaker events. Michael Foot, the future MP and leader of the Labour Party, spoke at a United Palestine Appeal (the forerunner of the United Israel Appeal) hosted by the Zionist society and WIZO in 1944.(xxv)

  • Ladies Zionist Society (founded by 1941)(xxvi)

 

Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) Jewish Chronicle report of 1 August 1941.

  • (iii) Courtesy of Mrs Wineman and sons.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle report 22 August 1941.

  • (v) Jewish Chronicle report 17 March 1944.

  • (vi) and (vii) Reserved.

  • (viii) The congregation's sole listing was in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6, the first published following World War II. There is no evidence from Jewish Chronicle reports of the continued existence of the Group after the war.

  • (ix) Gown and Tallith. Fifty Years of Cambridge University Jewish Society (1989) pp. 268-9.

  • (x) Jewish Chronicle reports  and Rev. Dimpson's listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6, the only edition to list the congregation.

  • (xi) to (xiii) Reserved.

  • (xiv) H. Gaventa initiated the establishment of the congregation (letter to Jewish Chronicle on 3 December 1940). Jewish Chronicle reported his election as chairman (1 August 1941) and as a warden (5 June 1942 and 18 June 1943) and his replacement as president (22 June 1945).

  • (xv) Jewish Chronicle reported M. Cohen's election as treasurer on 1 August 1941. He was not reelected at the annual meeting in 1942.

  • (xvi) Jewish Chronicle reported L.J. Hill's election as hon. secretary (1 August 1941) and as treasurer and hon. secretary (5 June 1942 and 18 June 1943). He was also listed as holding both offices in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (xvi) Jewish Chronicle reported J. Wineman's election as a warden (5 June 1942 and 18 June 1943) and his appointment as president (22 June 1945). He was also listed as president in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (xviii) and (xix) Reserved.

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle reported of 5 June 1942.

  • (xx) Jewish Chronicle report 10 July 1970.

  • (xxi) Previous Registration Districts:  Eton (from 1 October 1895);  Chiltern & Beaconsfield (from 1 April 1974);  Chiltern & South Bucks (renaming) (from 1 June 1988);  Chiltern Hills (from 1 November 1989 to 1 July 2007).
    Any registers would now be held by the current register office.

  • (xxii) and (xxiii) Reserved.

  • (xxiv) Jewish Chronicle report 28 November 1941.

  • (xxv) Jewish Chronicle report 7 July 1944.

  • (xxv) Listed in Jewish Year Book 1945/6. A Jewish Chronicle report of 1941 refers to the founding of a Women's Zionist branch.


List of United Synagogue Membership Groups

Jewish Congregations in Buckinghamshire

Jewish Communities of England homepage


Page created: 30 April 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 11 July 2021
Latest revision or update: 16 July 2021


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