North Western Reform Synagogue

Golders Green, London NW11



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Alyth Gardens
North Western Reform Synagogue, June 2018
© David Shulman 2018

North West Synagogue logo
Congregation Data


North Western Reform Synagogue(i)

(often referred to as Alyth Gardens Synagogue)


Alyth Gardens, Temple Fortune, Golders Green, London NW11 7EN.

The site on which the synagogue was built was previously part of the West London Synagogue's section of the Hoop Lane Cemetery, which backs on to the synagogue (a private members bill needed to be pass in Parliament to release the land for building purposes).(ii)

The synagogue was designed by architect Fritz Landauer.(iii) The foundation stone was laid in January 1936 and the synagogue was consecrated on 12 July 1936.(iv)

Previous Address:

Prior to 1936, the congregation generally held services (particularly its Sabbath morning services) in Hawthorn Hall, 44 Bridge Lane, London NW11. Earlier services and Friday night services had been held in private homes, the first service being held in the home of Henri Silbert at 2 The Meadway). High Holyday services took place in a hall in Hampstead Garden Suburb.(ii)

Current Status:



Largely through the efforts of three "founding fathers", E.L. (Len) Mendel, Ralph Nordon and Henri Silbert, the initial meeting of the congregation was held on 24 May 1933 and the first services were held on 16 June 1933.(ii)




A constituent synagogue of the Movement for Reform Judaism, having been a founding member of that organisation (initially known as Associated British Synagogues) in 1942. The congregation was the first reform synagogue to be formed in London since the founding in 1840 of the West London Synagogue, which acted as the "parent" synagogue to the new congregation.



Senior Ministers:
(To view a short profile of a minister who also served other UK congregations - name in blue - hold the curso over his or her name.)

Rabbi Solomon Elihu Starrels - from 1933 until 1938(v)

Rev. Maurice L. Perlzweig - from 1938 until 1942(vi)

Rev. Vivian Simmons (interim) - from 1942 until 1943(vii)

Rabbi Dr. Werner Van der Zyl - from 1943 until 1958(viii)

Rev. Philip Cohen - from 1958 until 1972(ix)

Rabbi Dow Marmur - from about 1969 until 1983 (as senior minister from 1972)(xi)

Rabbi Charles Emanuel - from 1983 until 2006, thereafter emeritus(xii)

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith (rabbinic partner) - from 2006 until 2019(xiii)

Rabbi Josh Levy (initially rabbinic partner) - from 2008 until present (January 2021)(xiv)

Associate & Assistant Rabbis:
(other than those who subsequently served as Senior Minister)

Rabbi Erwin S. Rosenblum - from 1955 until 1956(xv)

Rabbi Rodney John Mariner -  from 1976 until 1979(xvi)

Rabbi Laura Naomi Janner-Klausner(xvii) - from about 2004 until about 2013

Rabbi Maurice Arnold Michaels (part time) - from 2011 until 2018(xviii)

Rabbi Colin Eimer (part time) - from 2015 until present (January 2021)(xix)

Rabbi Hannah Kingston(xx) - from 2017 until present (January 2021)

Rabbi Elliott Karstadt(xxi) - from 2020 until present (January 2021)


Cantor Cheryl Wunch(xxv) - from January 2014 until August 2015

Cantor Tamara Wolfson - from 2020 until present (January 2021)(xxvi)

Membership Data:

Jewish Year Books(xxxii)















National Reports & Surveys(xxxiii)

1977 - 989 male members and an estimated 989 female members

1983 - 1,105 male members and an estimated 1,104 female members

1990 - 1,450 members households)

1996 - 1,440 members (households)

2010 & 2016 - listed as having 1,000 to 1,499 members (by household)

Legal & Charitable Status:

The congregation is a registered unincorporated charity (no. 247081), registered on 21 February 1966. The governing documents are the congregation's Rules revised April 1965, as amended.(xxxiv)

Local Government District:

Golders Green, a residential suburb in Northwest London with a substantial Jewish minority, is in the London Borough of Barnet(xxxv) and was (until 1965) in the former Municipal Borough of Hendon (incorporated as a borough in 1932.

Registration District (BMD):

Barnet(xxxvi) - Link to Register Office website.

Cemetery Information:

Membership includes burial rights through the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS) at the Western Cemetery, Cheshunt or cremation at Golders Green Crematorium. There is also the option (through the JJBS) of a Woodland Burial in Cheshunt at additional cost or of mixed faith burial in a separate area at Cheshunt.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) The name of the congregation was initially written with a hyphen between the words "North" and "Western". Based upon listing in Jewish Year Books, the hyphen was dropped in about 1971 (briefly reappearing just in the 1979 edition).

  • (ii) The Golders Green Jewish Community by Pam Fox (2016), pp.84/5.

  • (iii) Carol Herselle Krinsky - Synagogues of Europe - Architecture, History, Meaning, 1996, Appendix I, p. 430. To view a description of the Jewish architectural works by F. Landauer, hold your cursor over his name.

  • (iv) The Golders Green Jewish Community by Pam Fox (2016), pp.84/5.

  • (v) Based upon Rabbi Starrels listing in Jewish Year Books 1935 (the first appearance of the congregation) through 1938 (the congregation was inexplicably omitted from the 1939 edition) and A Place to Call Home by Pam Fox (2011).

  • (vi) Based upon the Profile of Rev. Perlzweig and his listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (vii) Hampstead Garden Suburb Heritage website - https://hgsheritage.org.uk/Detail/entities/id%3A27. Rev. Simmons was on secondment from West London Synagogue, at which he was assistant minister from 1913 to 1942.

  • (viii) The Golders Green Jewish Community by Pam Fox (2016), pp.89, 93.

  • (ix) The Golders Green Jewish Community by Pam Fox (2016), pp.93, 96 and Rev. Cohen's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1959 through 1972. 

  • (x) Reserved

  • (xi) Based upon Rabbi Marmur's listing as minister of this congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1970 through 1983 and his "Who's Who" entries in Jewish Year Books, latest 2015. 

  • (xii) The Golders Green Jewish Community by Pam Fox (2016), pp.99, 101 and Rabbi Emanuel's listing as minister of this congregation in Jewish Year Books 1984 through 2006.

  • (xiii) Based upon "Who's Who" entries in Jewish Year Books (latest 2015), Jewish Chronicle Report of 1 December 2006 of Rabbi Goldsmith's appointment at Alyth and Jewish News Report of 19 November 2018 of his upcoming move to Edgware & Hendon Reform Synagogue in Summer of 2019.

  • (xiv) Rabbi Levy was listed as a minister of this congregation in Jewish Year Books from 2009 and continues to serve the congregation as reported on the congregation's website, last accessed 5 January 2020. 

  • (xv) Rabbi Rosenblum's entry in the Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History.

  • (xvi) Rabbi Mariner's biography on Belsize Square Synagogue's website.

  • (xvii) Rabbi Janner-Klausner's profile formerly on Reform Judaism's website and her listing as a minister of this congregation in Jewish Year Books from 2005 through 2014. Rabbi Janner-Klausner was ordained in 2004. In 2011 she was appointed senior rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism.

  • (xviii) Rabbi Michael's "Who's Who" entries in Jewish Year Books (latest 2015) and biography formerly on the congregation's website, accessed 14 May 2018.

  • (xix) Congregation's website, last accessed 4 January 2021 and "Who's Who" entries in Jewish Year Books, latest 2015. Following his retirement in 2015 Rabbi Eimer held various offices in the Reform movement and education, including part-time minister of several congregations (including Alyth).

  • (xx) Congregation's website, last accessed 4 January 2021. Rabbi Kingston was ordained in 2017.

  • (xxi) Rabbi Karstadt profile on the congregation's website, accessed January 2021.

  • (xxi) to (xxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxv) Cantor Wunch's LinkedIn profile, accessed 21 December 2018 and her listing in the Jewish Year Book 2015. She previously served as cantor of Congregation Beth Am, Buffalo Grove (2011-2013) and subsequently moved to Canada.

  • (xxi) Cantor Wolfson's profile on the congregations's website, accessed January 2021.

  • (xxvii) to (xxxi) Reserved.

  • (xxxii) Membership numbers extracted from Jewish Year Books. In each case, the date given here is the year prior to the year of the Year Book.

  • (xxxiii) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by or on behalf of 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.

  • (xxxiv) Charities Commissioners website (in beta trial stage) and Open Charities website, both accessed 19 December 2018.

  • (xxxv) The London Borough of Barnet, an Outer London Borough within the Greater London administrative area, was created on 1 April 1965 upon the merger of the the Municipal Boroughs of Hendon and Finchley and Urban District of Friern Barnet (all of which had been in the former county of Middlesex) with the Urban Districts of Barnet and East Barnet (both of which had been part of the county of Hertfordshire).

  • (xxxvi) The former Registration District was Hendon, from the formation of the congregation until 1 April 1999. All registers would now be held by current register office.


Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to this Congregation

  • Bibliography

    • A Short History of the North-Western Reform Synagogue, 1933-1958, by Leonard Hyman (1958, published by the congregation).

    • 50 Years of 'Alyth', A Short History of the North-Western Reform Synagogue, by June Rose (1983, published by the congregation).

    • Alyth, 1933-2008, the Last 25 Years, by Gill and Jon Epatein (eds) (2008, published by the congregation).

    • The Synagogues of London (p.104), by Paul Lindsay (1993, Vallentine Mitchell)

    • Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland (p.66), by Sharman Kadish (2015, Historic England)

    • The Golders Green Jewish Community, by Pam Fox (2016, The History Press).

    • Other London Borough of Barnet Bibliography

Third-Party Websites

List of Reform Judaism Congregations

Jewish Congregations in Golders Green (London Borough of Barnet)

List of Member Synagogues of the Jewish Joint Burial Society

Jewish Congregations in Greater London (other than East End)

Greater London home page

Page created: 16 November 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 20 December 2018
Page most recently amended: 6 May 2024

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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