the former

Penrith, Keswick & District Hebrew Congregation

Penrith, Eden, Cumbria




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Towns of Penrith, Keswick and Windermere

The town of Penrith (population about 17,000), on the river Earmont, lies just outside the Lake District National Park in North West England, some 17 Miles south of Carlisle. The town of Keswick (population about 5,000), lying close to the shores of the Derwentwater lake, is 17 miles west of Penrith and within the Lake District National Park. The town of Windermere (population about 8,000), lies 25 miles to the south and is also within the Lake District National Park.

Until 1974, each of the towns were urban districts, the former two in the then county of Cumberland and Windermere in the then county of Westmorland. In 1974, each of the urban districts were merged with neighbouring districts to form three new local government districts of, respectively, Eden, Allerdale and South Lakeland, all within the newly created county of Cumbria. On 1 April 2023, Eden and South Lakeside will become part of the new Westmorland and Furness unitary authority and Allerdale will become part of the new Cumberland unitary authority.

 Jewish Community

An evacuee Jewish congregation was established in Penrith during World War II, serving Penrith, Keswick, Windermere and and other local settlements. Penrith was the second largest reception centre for Jewish children evacuated from Newcastle on Tyne during the war (after Carlisle). The Newcastle community's education authorities were responsible for providing education to the evacuee children, and it was they who appointed a resident teacher and minister at Penrith in 1941. The congregation did not survive long after the cessation of hostilities.

Congregation Data


Penrith, Keswick and District Hebrew Congregation(i)

also known as Penrith Hebrew Congregation(ii)


The community did not have its own premises. From 1939/40 regular services were held at the home of Murray Rosenberg. Festival and other main services were held at the Masonic Hall, Penrith,(iii) which may have been the former Masonic Hall at Friargate, Penrith. For a time daily services were also held at the relocated premises of the Royal Grammar School Newcastle - about 30 Jewish schoolboys attended these services.(iv)


Established in 1939, primarily by evacuees from built-up areas of Britain, particularly from Newcastle on Tyne.(vii) Although centred in Penrith, it also covered Keswick, Windemere and other scattered outposts in the area.

Date Closed:

Closed in about 1946.(viii)


Ashkenazi - Orthodox


None known.


Rabbi J. Newman - teacher and minister from August 1941.(x) Although resident in Penrith, his area of responsibility included Keswick, Windemere and other scattered settlements covered by the congregation.

Lay Officer:

President - Murray Rosenberg(xi) (see below) from 1939 until about 1946

Treasurer - L. Olsen(xii) from WWII until about 1946

Registration District (BMDs):

Cumbria since 1 December 2011(xiii) - Link to Register Office website

Cemetery Details

There is no Jewish cemetery in Penrith or elswhere in Cumbria.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) This was the name that appeared in Jewish Chronicle reports relating to Rabbi Newman.

  • (ii) This was the name listed in the Jewish Year Book.

  • (iii) Various Jewish Chronicle reports from 1939.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle report of 7 November 1941.

  • (v) and (vi) Reserved.

  • (vii) Jewish Chronicle report of 29 December 1939.

  • (viii) The congregation was last listed in the Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (ix) Reserved.

  • (x) His appointment is reported in the Jewish Chronicle of 1 August 1941. It is uncertain when he left.

  • (xi) Mr Rosenberg is mentioned in Jewish Chronicle reports of 29 December 1939 and 20 December 1940. He is also listed as president in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947, although the editors had not received a new return for the 1947 publication and merely repeated the previous year's data.

  • (xii) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947.

  • (xiii) Previous Registration District for Penrith: Penrith (from 1 July 1837 to 1 December 2011). Any registers would be held by the current register office


Online Articles and Other Material relating to relating to
the Jewish Community in Penrith and the Lake District

Talit manufacture in war-time Penrith. Jewish Chronicle 17 January 1941


on Third Party websites

  • The Lake District Holocaust Project website.

Other Notable Jewish Connections with Penrith and the Lake District

  • The Calgarth Estate in Windermere, after the war provided a haven to over 300 child survivors of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. The story has been told in the BBC drama The Windemere Children (2020). See above for website which covers this story.

  • Amongst the school boys evacuated to Penrith on the relocation of the Royal Grammar school of Newcastle were future community leaders Ivor Saville of Sunderland and Arthur Taylor CBE of Newcastle.

  • Murray Rosenberg (c1872-1966), born in Newcastle on Tyne, president and principal organiser of Jewish communal life in Penrith, was an estate agent and surveyor in Jerusalem who acquired land purchases for the Zionist movement including at Modiin and the Keren Avraham estate in Jerusalem. He also helped start one of the first Jewish building companies under the British Mandate, Haboneh. Rosenberg was a former secretary of the English Zionist Federation.

  • J.L. Topaz, producer of picture postcards including of Cumbria and the Lake District, lived in Penrith.

Jewish Congregations in Cumbria

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 4 November 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 12 January 2023
Page most recently amended: 7 February 2023

Research by David Shulman and Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman

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