the former

Whitley Bay Jewish Community

& Hebrew Congregation

Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, Tyne & Wear




JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website covering all Jewish communities and
congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.

Town of Whitley Bay

The seaside town of Whitley Bay (population about 10,000) in the North East of England is situated about five miles north of the Tyne estuary, some 10 miles northeast of Newcastle and about three miles north of North Shields.

Whitley Bay is now in the metropolitan borough of North Tyneside (in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear), which was created in 1974 upon the merger of several authorities, including most of the then Municipal Borough of Whitely Bay, all of which authorities had been within the county of Northumberland. Whitley Bay had received borough status in 1954, having previously been the urban district of Whitley Bay since 1944, and prior to then, the urban district of Whitley and Monkseaton.

former Whitley Bay Synagogue
The former Whitley Bay Synagogue, 2 Oxford Street (June 2018)
now a School of Theatre Dance
© Steve Ellwood 2018

The Whitley Bay Jewish Community

The Whitley Bay Jewish community dates from the early 1920s, although a synagogue building was not acquired until the late 1930s. In 1953, a Jewish Section was dedicated at the local cemetery. The community began to decline in the the late 1960s and finally closed at the end of the 1990s. During its existance, it was the most northernly Jewish community in England.

Congregation Data


Whitley Bay Hebrew Congregation

Synagogue Address:

Synagogue at 2 Oxford Street, Whitley Bay NG26 3TB, acquired in 1937.

The building was rebuilt or remodelled by architect Cyril Gillis of Sunderland and the synagogue was consecrated by Chief Rabbi Dr. Hertz on 21 September 1938. It was extended in 1966 by architect C. Soloman and reconsecrated on 27 February 1966.(i)

Previous Addresses:

Services were held in Whitley Road (No. 119) from about 1931 until about 1937 and previously in the Exchange Building, on the corner of South Parade and Oxford Street.(ii) Services were also held in private homes, including that of the minister.

Date Founded:

1922, when first regular services were held in private homes.(iii).


The synagogue was closed in 1992 although communal life may have continued until c.2000.

The sepher torah and some of the other appurtenances were donated to the Jewish community of Tegucigalpa in Honduras.(iv)


Orthodox - Ashkenazi

(To view a short profile of a minister or reader whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. P. Isaacs - from 1923 to about 1926(v)

Rev. S. Nemeth - until 1930s(vi)

Rev. Samuel Zucker - from 1930s until about 1937(vii)

Rabbi Nathan Vengroff - from 1937 to 1943/4(viii)

Rev. Abraham Brysz - from about 1950 until 1951(ix)

Rev. Shalom I. Balanow - from about 1953 until 1959(x)

Rev. Harold Greenberg - from about 1960 until 1965(xi)

Rabbi Aaron Fischel Herling - from 1972 until 1979(xii)

Reador (Chazan):

Rev. Bernard Kersh - chazan in 1930s(xiii)

Lay Officers:(xvi)(xvii)


1923-1926 - Rev. P. Isaacs(v)

1926-1931 - Jack Lukes(xviii)

1931-1937 - P. Morris(xix)

1937-1940 - M. Ross

1940-1945 - War Years (no data)

1945-1946 - P. Morris(xix)

1946-1949 - J. H. Potash

1949-1955 - E. G. Markus

1955-1956 - M. Ison

Vice President

1954-1955 - M. Ison


1937-1940 - P. Morris(xix)

1940-1945 - War Years (no data)

1945-1948 - M. Kreike

1948-1949 - H. A. Gould

1949-1951 - J. H. Potash

1951-1952 - J. H. Potash & H. Gould

1952-1953 - H. Sonn & H. Gould

1953-1954 - H. Marks & W. Jacobs

1954-1955 - P. Morris(xix) & H. Sonn

1955-1956 - A. H. Gould & H. Marks


1935-1937 - M. Ross

1937-1947 - H. Smirin(xx)

1947-1948 - P. Morris(xix)

1948-1955 - B. Burnard

1955-1956 - J. H. Potash

Hon. Secretaries

1923-1926 - Jack Lukes(xviii)

1926-1928 - A. M. Adler

1928-1931 - J. Rose

1931-1937 - R. Caplan

1937-1938 - D. Marguilies

1938-1940 - S. Caplan

1940-1945 - War Years (no data)

1945-1946 - J. H. Potash

1946-1948 - N. Lipman

1948-1949 - A. Corman

1949-1951 - Lieut-Cdr. J. Freedman

1951-1952 - W. Jacobs

1952-1959 - D. Greenberg

1959-1962 - D. Goldberg

1962-1965 - D. Gould

1965-1967 - S. Caplan

1967-2000 - M. Sonn

Membership Data:

National Reports & Surveys(xxi)

1977 - 28 male (or household) members and 11 female members

1983 - 15 male (or household) members and 15 female members

1990 - 18 household members

1996 - 8 members (comprising 5 households, 2 individual male and 1 individual female member)

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) The Jewish Communities of North-East England (1980) by L. Olsover, Part Two, Chapter 4, pages 261-267 and Jewish Chronicle report of 30 September 1938. This address first appears in Jewish Year Book 1939.

  • (ii) Jewish Year Books from 1924 through 1931 give the address as Exchange Building and from 1932 through 1938, the address is given as Whitley Road (119 Whitley Road from 1936 through 1938). However, according to Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i), services were initially held in a room above a shop in Whitley Road and later in a room in South Parade.

  • (iii) Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i) above. The community and congregation was first listed in Jewish Year Book 1924.

  • (iv) Based upon the community's last appearance in the Jewish Year Book 2000. However, a Jewish Chronicle report of 4 December 1998 stated that "a Sepher Torah from the former Whitley Bay Synagogue, in the northeast of England, will be sent to Honduras as part of an aid consignment from World Jewish Relief......the Whitley Bay community — whose synagogue closed in 1992 — heard about the appeal and offered to donate the Sefer Torah, plus siddurim, prayer shawls, a wooden menorah, cheder items and curtains."

  • (v) Rev. P. Isaacs was listed as president of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1924 through 1926, although there is no reference to him serving in other capacities. However, a Jewish Chronicle report of 26 February 1923 stated that "in consequence of the increasing number of residents and visitors" the congregation had decided to appoint "the Rev. P. Isaacs as Reader, Shochet, and Teacher of the Classes". The only other press report of his service at Whitley Bay is 13 July 1923. He is not mentioned at all in Olsover's 1980 book.

  • (vi) Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i) above. However, Rev. Nemeth was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (vii) Olsover's 1980 book (see note (i) above) describes "Rev. Sam Zucker" in September 1938 as being "recently succeeded". As he is believed to be the same Rev. Zucker who served the Leicester Hebrew Congregation, it is believed that his term of office at Whitley Bay probably ended by 1937. However, Rev. Zucker was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (viii) Jewish Chronicle of 17 September 1937 reported that Rabbi N. Vengroff has accepted a unanimous "call" to become minister, reader, teacher, and shochet of the congregation and on 29 January 1943 it placed him still at Whitley Bay, although by 1944 he was at Brondesbury, London. In Olsover's 1980 book, he is referred to as Rabbi Wengroff. He was not listed in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (ix) Based upon Rev. Brysz's listing in Jewish Year Book 1951

  • (x) Based upon Rev. Balanow's listing in Jewish Year Books 1954 through 1960.

  • (xi) Based upon Rev. Greenberg's listing in Jewish Year Books 1961 through 1966 and note in Olsover's 1980 book (see note (i) above) of his death in 1965.

  • (xii) Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i) above and Jewish Chronicle reports. However, Rabbi Herling was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xiii) Based upon Rev. Kersh's obituary in The Jewish Chronicle of 21 March 1997.

  • (xiv) and (xv) Reserved.

  • (xvi) The data listed here has been extracted from Jewish Year Books. Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevent year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. (Year books were generally published towards the end of the year prior to year appearing the 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 the years shown here are approximate and may differ from the actual years of office. Jewish Year Books were not published during WWII subsequent to 1940. There were no Jewish Year Book listings of officers (other than secretary) subsequent to 1956.

  • (xvii) Apart from the family names listed here, other families instrumental in estabishing the community were the Seger, Joseph, Trager and Lurie families - Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i) above.

  • (xviii) Mr. Lukes is considered as the founder of the congregation - Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i) above.

  • (xix) Mr. Morris was a subsequent life president of the congregation, who was largely responsible for the develpment and success of the congregation - Olsover's 1980 book - see note (i) above.

  • (xx) Mr. Smirin was listed as treasurer of the congregation in Jewish Year Books both prior to World War II (Year Books 1938 to 1940) and following the war (year books 1945/6 and 1947) and, although no data is available for the war years, it is assumed that he also served in such capacity throughout the war.

  • (xxi) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports.




Search the Whitley Bay Jewish Cemetery Database,
including burial records and photographs of the headstones,
as well as a description of the cemetery

Basic Cemetery Information

Jewish Section, Whitley New Cemetery, Blythe Road, Whitley Bay (near St. Mary's Lighthouse). (Click North Tyneside, for other Jewish cemeteries in North Tyneside.)

The cemetery was opened in 1953. The JCR-UK Database includes approximately 94 burials (including photographs of 90 headstones) from 1953 to 31 December 2022. (An earlier database, with burials to 2011, is included in JOWBR. See below.)

(For some additional information, also see IAJGS Cemeteries Project - Whitley Bay)


Search the All-UK Database
(including JOWBR UK records)

The records in the database associated with Whitley Bay include:


Whitley Bay Cemetery (Jewish Section), 1953-2011 (92 records), included in JOWBR - submitted by JCR-UK


Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the Whitley Bay Jewish Community


On Third Party websites

Notable Jewish Connections with Whitley Bay

  • David Abrahams (b. 1944) is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and political activist brought up at Whitley Bay.

  • Ruth Irene Caleb, OBE (b. 1942) is a film and television producer originally from Whitley Bay. She was the BBC's first ever female head of drama (at BBC Wales).

  • Sir Lawrence David Freedman, KCMG, CBE, PC, FBA (b. 1948), Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's College London, was born in Whitley Bay.

  • Prof Avrom Saltman (1925-2000), born in Whitley Bay, was a historian of mediaeval religious life, who worked first in England, then helped set up a history department at Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. In 1983 he was awarded the Israel Prize for history.


 Congregational Records


Numerous records of the Jewish Communities in Northeast England are deposited with the Tyne and Wear Archives Service (https://twarchives.org.uk).   CLICK HERE to view a full list of these records (correct to November 2013).

Records Held:

Marriage register 1939-1973, rules 1930s-1940s, minutes 1942-1989, financial records 1952-1996, correspondence 1966-2000, membership register 1962, orders of service 1938-1966, souvenir brochures 1965 and 1972 -  Tyne and Wear Archives Service (see above)

Registration District (BMD):

North Tyneside - Register Office website

  • Previous Registration Districts:
      North Tyneside East - until 1 April 1985;
      Northumberland South - until 1 April 1974;
      Tynemouth - from founding of congregation until 1 October 1936.
      (All records would now be held by current office.)


Whitley Bay Jewish Population Data



Jewish Year Book 1945/6



Jewish Year Book 1951



Jewish Year Book 1956



Jewish Year Book 1976



Jewish Year Book 1982



Jewish Year Book 1989

North Tyneside Jewish Community home page

Jewish Congregations in Tyne and Wear

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 6 March 2004
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 29 March 2018
Latest revision or update: 15 February 2023

Formatting and research by David Shulman

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