Central Synagogue

Great Portland Street, London W1



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Congregation Data


Central Synagogue

Alternative Names:

Great Portland Street Synagogue

Also previously sometimes referred to as the Hallam Street Synagogue


133-141 Great Portland Street (38-40 Hallam Street), London WIW 6NW. 

(The foundation stone was laid by Baron Lionel de Rothschild M.P. on 18 March 1869, and the building consecrated by Chief Rabbi Rev. Dr. N. M. Adler on 7 April 1870.) The synagogue building was destroyed in a German air raid in 10 May 1941, and services temporarily moved to the Adolph Tuck Hall in Woburn House. Once the bombed synagogue site was cleared, a temporary synagogue was built in the basement, which was consecrated in 1948 and remained in use until 1956, when the present building was constructed and formally opened in 1958.(i)

Previous Addresses:

The previous location of the synagogue, from March 1855 to 1870, was at 120 Great Portland Street. This was a former warehouse, purchased on a 42 year lease in 1953 and consecrated in March 1855.(i)

Prior to 1855, the congregation met in Wigmore Street, London W1.

Current Status:


Date Founded:

Congregation founded 1848.(ii) The synagogue was formed as a branch of the Great Synagogue, and remained such until the founding of the United Synagogue in 1870.(iii) Accordingly, until then, management was controllled by the Great Synagogue.


Ashkenazi Orthodox


One of the original five synagogues that formed the United Synagogue in 1870, of which it remains a constituent member.



Ministers & Officers:

See Lists below

Membership Data:

United Synagogue(iv)

Number of male seat-holders:























Also see below for seatholder records on All-UK Database.

Other Sources(v)

In both 2010 and 2016 - listed as having 400 to 499 members (by household).

Charitable Status:

As a constituent of the United Synagogue, the congregation operates within that organisation's registered charity status (registered charity no. 242552).

Local Government District:

The Congregation is situated in the centre of London's West End.  All the above addresses for the Synagogue are now in the City of Westminster and were (from 1900 to 1965) in the former Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone. Prior to 1900, St Marylebone was a civil parish in the former County of Middlesex.(vi)

Cemetery Information:

For United Synagogue cemeteries, see Cemeteries of the United Synagogue.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) The congregation's website and The Lost Synagogues of London by Peter Renton, pp.73/6.

  • (ii) The Synagogues of London by Paul Lindsay (1993), pp. 70/73.

  • (iii) Jewish Year Books of early 1900s and The Synagogues of London by Paul Lindsay (1993), pp. 70/73.

  • (iv) The United Synagogue 1870-1970 by Aubrey Newman (1977), pp. 216/7.

  • (v) Reports on "Synagogue Membership in the United Kingdom in 2010" and "...in 2016", published by BOD and JPR. Link to reports.

  • (vi) The City of Westminster is an Inner London Borough within the Greater London administrative area and was created on 1 April 1965 upon the merger of the former City of Westminster (a Metropolitan Borough) with the Metropolitan Boroughs of St Marylebone and Paddington.The metropolitan boroughs were created in 1900 and had been within the former County of London (established in 1899, abolished 1965). Until 1899, St Marylebone, a civil parish, had been part of the former county of Middlesex.

  • (vii) to (x) Reserved.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database specifically associated with the Central Synagogue include:

Seatholders Lists

1885 (399 records);
1899 (346 records);
1910 (431 records);
1933 (415 records).

UK Communal Leaders

Office Holders in 1874 (25 individuals) and 1896 (5 individual)

For a list of other London records in the Database that may also include records associated with this congregation, click here.


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



 Congregational Records

Registration District (BMD):

  • Westminster (since 1 January 1978)- Register Office website

  • Previous Registration Districts:
    St Marylebone - until 1 January 1978;
    Marylebone - from founding of congregation until 1 January 1902.
    (All records would now be held by current office.)

Marriage Registers:

Marriage Registers (first entry 22 March 1871), other than register currently in use, deposited with Westminster Register Office.

 (Note: It was not until 1870, when the congregation ceased to be a branch of the Great Synagogue, that marriages could be performed in the Synagogue.)


Ministers and Officers


Rev. Aaron Levy Green - from, or after, 1855 until 1883(xi)

Rev. David Fay - from 1880s until about 1902(xii)

Rev. Michael Adler - from 1903 until 1934(xiii)

Rev. Philip Cohen - from 1934 until about 1940(xiv)

Rev. E. Nemeth (temporary) - from about 1940(?) until 1946(xv)

Rev. Simeon Isaacs - from about 1947 to about 1954(xvii)

Rabbi Cyril I. Shine - from 1955 to 1988(xviii)

Rabbi V. C. Silverman - from 1988 to about 1995(xix)

Rabbi Barry Marcus - from 1995 to October 2018(xx)

Rabbi Barry Lerer (& Rebbetzen Naomi Lerer) - from February 2019(xxi)

Readers/Chazanim (Cantors):

Rev. Aaron Levy Green - from 1854 until at least 1874(xxiii)

Rev. E. Spero - from at least 1896 until at least 1920(xxiv)

Rev. A. Stoutzker - from at least 1925 until about 1951(xxv)

Rev. Simon Hass - from 1951 until 1993(xxvi)

Rev. Dubiner - about 1993(xxvii)

Y. Reichman - about 1994 until about 1995(xxviii)

J. Murgraff - from about 1997 until about 2002(xxix)

Rev. Steven Leas - from 2003 until present (December 2018)(xxx)

Some Principal Office Holders
(19th century):


First Reader & Lecturer - Rev. Aaron Levy Green

Second Reader & Secretary - Rev. Samuel Lyons

Wardens - Louis Charles Lumley & Barnett Mayers


Minister & Secretary - Rev. David Fay

Reader - Rev. E. Spero

Warderns - Samuel E. Moss & Joseph Pyke

Financial Representative - Asher Isaacs

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (xi) In The Lost Synagogues of London by Peter Renton, pp.73/6 (including article entitled "Revd. Aaron Levy Green" on pp. 75/6), it indicates that London-born Revd. Green (1821-1883) joined the congregation in 1854 as second reader (p.76) and was elected reader in 1855 (p.73). At the time the principal Jewish spiritual leader of a congregation was generally referred to as a reader rather than a minister, even though, as in the case of Rev. Green, they effectively acted as the minister. Accordingly, Rev. Green is listed as reader and lecturer of the congregation in the Jewish Directory of 1874. It is unclear whether, and at what stage, he formally adopted the term "minister". Nevertheless, the Jewish Year Book 1903 refers to him as having been the congregation's "first Minister". Rev. Green had previously served as minister of Bristol Synagogue (about 1838-51) and second reader of the Great Synagogue (from 1851-54).

  • (xii) Rev. Fay was still minister in 1900 (per Jewish Year Book 1900/01) but the office was vacant by 1902 (Jewish Year book 1902/03) following Rev. Fay's retiement. Jewish Year Books 1902/03 also makes reference to  Rev. Fay succeeding Rev. Green (who served until 1883).

  • (xiii) London-born Rev. Adler (1868-1944) was previously minister of Hammersmith Synagogue (1890-1903) immediately prior to being appointed minister of the Congregation - The History of the Hammersmith Synagogue by Rev. Adler. He was also Chaplain to the British Armed Forces (having been appointed in 1904 and serving throughout World War I) - see A chaplain in the trenches on Jewish Military Museum website and entry on London Jews in First World War website . The year of retirement (1934) of Rev. Adler, DSO, SCF, BA is mentioned in The Lost Synagogues of London by Peter Renton, p.75.

  • (xiv) The Lost Synagogues of London by Peter Renton, p.75. Rev. Cohen (born in Manchester in 1907) is first listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Book 1936. He became a chaplain in World War II, although it is uncertain as to whether he retained the title of minister of the congregation during the war period. (He is listed as such until the Jewish Year Book 1945/46 but this conflicts with the contents of the next footnote). He later served as associate minister of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John's Wood (c.1946-1958) and minister of North Western Reform Synagogue, Golders Green (1958-72).

  • (xv) The Lost Synagogues of London by Peter Renton, p.75 refers to Rev Nemeth's appointment as temporary during WWII (which is the period during which the synagogue was destroyed by enemy action). He was still listed as temporary minister in the Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (xvi) Reserved.

  • (xvii) Based upon Rev. Isaacs' listing in Jewish Year Books from 1949 (or possibly 1948) through 1954. He was previously minister of South East London Associate Synagogue, from late 1930s to about 1947 ("Who's Who" entry in Jewish Year Book 1952, which also states that he was a former minister of Borough Synagogue, without providing any dates. However this may be an error - there is no other reference to such listing in Jewish Year Books for any relevant period).

  • (xviii) Congregation's website, accessed 27 March 2018 (although "Who's Who" entries in Jewish Year Books, latest 2005, gives his year of departure as 1990). London-born Rabbi Shine (1923-2003) was previously Minister of Peterborough Hebrew Congregation (1944-46), Walthamstow & Leyton Synagogue (1946-49) and North Finchley & Woodside Park Synagogue (1949-55) and was Domestic Chaplain to the Lord Mayor of London (1960-61) ("Who's Who" entries in Jewish Year Books, latest 1969).

  • (xix) Congregation's website, accessed 27 March 2018. The actually date of departure of Rabbi Silverman is unclear.

  • (xx) Congregation's website, accessed 2 April 2018. Jewish News of 22 October 2018 reported on the retirement of Rabbi Marcus (b. Cape Town, 1949).

  • (xxi) Rabbi Lerer's profile on the congregation's website, last accessed 28 April 2019 and information provided personally by Rabbi Lerer in January 2019. USA-born Rabbi Lehrer, who received smicha in 2000, previously served as minister of Watford & District Synagogue (January 2002 to June 2006) and Barnet Synagogue (June 2006 to February 2019).

  • (xxii) Reserved.

  • (xxiii) See Note (xi) above.

  • (xxiv) Although Rev. Spero is listed in the first Jewish Year Book (of 1896), he may have taken office some years previously. He continued to be listed until at least the Jewish Year Book of 1921, and possibly for subsequent years.

  • (xxv) Based upon Rev. Stoutzker's listing in Jewiish Year Books from at least 1926 (or possibly some years earlier) through 1951. 

  • (xxvi) Congregation's website, accessed 27 March 2018. Rev. Hass (b. 1927, Poland) is listed as reader (cantor) of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1952 through 1993.

  • (xxvii) Based upon Rev. Dubiner's listing in the Jewiish Year Book 1994. Rev. Dubner also served as cantor of Bayswater Synagogue, London (from about 1963 to about 1966).

  • (xxviii) Based upon Y. Reichman's listing in Jewiish Year Books 1995 and 1996.

  • (xxix) Based upon J. Murgraff's listing in Jewiish Year Books 1998 through 2003.

  • (xxx) "Who's Who" entry in Jewish Year Book 2014. Rev Leas (born 1949 Cape Town), was still chazan (cantor) of the congregation according to the congregation's website, last accessed 27 December 2018. ,

  • (xxxi) Reserved.

  • (xxxii) Jewish Directory for 1874, edited by Asher I. Myers. The Directory actually lists 25 different office holders for the congregation.

  • (xxxiii) The first Jewiish Year Book, 1896, covering the Jewish year 5657 (8 September 1896 to 26 September 1897).

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Page created: 11 January 2004
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 15 April 2018
Latest revision or update: 28 April 2019

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