West Central Liberal Jewish Synagogue

London W1



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Congregation Data


West Central Liberal Jewish Synagogue

Former Name:

West Central Liberal Jewish Congregation (until about 1961(i))


The Montagu Centre (name adopted 1970), 21 Maple Street (also known as 109-113 Whitfield Street), London W1T 4BE, from 1954.(ii)

Previous Addresses:

Following the destruction of the building housing the syangogue in 1941 (see below), the congregation held services in a number of locations from 1941 to 1954. including Whitfield Tabernacle, London W1; Mary Ward Settlement, off Woburn Place, London WC1; 2 Fitzroy Square, London W1; 82 Charlotte Street, London W1; and 51 Palace Court, London W2(iii)

Previously, the synagogue was situated at Club House at Alfred Place, Bedford Square, London WC1. The building was destroyed in 1941 in a German bombing raid, which killed 27 victims sheltering in the Club in the basement. List of those killed in the bombing.

The Alfred Place address (adjacent to the then Western Synagogue building, also destoyed in the 1941 bombing) had been the premises of the West Central Jewish Girls Club since 1914 and on the formal establishment of the congregation in 1928 the premises were also used the congregation. (See "Formation" below for further information) (initially by the West Central Branch of the Jewish Religious Union (the pre-cursor of the ULPS).

Current Status:



Although the congregation formally held its first services in September 1928, its roots are much earlier. The congregation was founded by Lilian Helen Montagu (affectionately known as Miss Lily"), who together with her sister Marian and a friend, Emily Harris, established a club for Jewish working girls, the West Central Jewish Girls Club, which in 1893 rented two rooms at 71 Dean Street, Soho, London W1. Since many of the girls were forced to work five and half days each week, including Saturday mornings, the Club held Sabbath day services on Saturday afternoons, generally led by "Miss Lily".

At the same time, Lily Montagu became very involved in the establishment of the progressive Judaism in Britain and, together with Claude Montefiore, helped found the Jewish Religious Union in 1902 (the forerunner of Liberal Judaism).

In 1913, the services held at the Club became the West Central Branch of the Jewish Religious Union. However there was a lack of both finance and men. Accordingly, it was not until 1928 that they could officially form a congregation, largely through the assistance of Rabbi Solomon Starrels, the Third Minister of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. The services had mainly been conducted by Lily Montagu prior to 1928 and even after the establishment of the congregation, Lily Montagu continue to hold the office of "Chairman and Lay Minister" until her death in 1963.


Liberal Progressive


A constituent synagogue of Liberal Judaism (formerly the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues- ULPS) from its founding.



Founder, Chairman & Lay Minister:

The Hon. Lilian Helen (Lily) Montague, JP (until 1963)(v)

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

Rev. Dr. Frederick K. (“Fritz”) Solomonski (later Rabbi Frederick Solomon) - from about 1948 until about 1954(vi)

Joseph Ascher, MA - from about 1955 until about 1964(vii)

Rabbi Roger Victor Pavey - assistant minister from about 1965 until about 1968, then minister until about 1970(viii)

Rabbi Lawrence Rigál - from 1973 until about 1985(ix)

Rabbi Hillel Avidan - from 1985 until 1992(x)

Rabbi Mark L. Solomon - from about 1992 until about 2000(xi)

Rabbi Janet Burden - from about 2002 until about 2014(xii)

Rabbi Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) Tabick - from at least February 2017 until present (January 2021)(xiii)

Reader (Cantor):

Cantor Rev. Adrian Harmon - from about 1991 until about 2020(xiv)

Early Officers :

Vice Chairman & Joint Vice Chairmen(xv)

Miss N.G. Levy - from about 1939 until about 1956

Dr. L. Garrett - from about 1950 until about 1956

The Hon. Marian Montagu - from about 1951 to about 1956

S.L. Langdon - from about 1954 until about 1955

Hon. Secretary

Miss Jessie Levy - from about 1939 until about 1980(xvi)

Hon. Treasurer

Miss Lyddie Tasch - from about 1939 until about 1940(xvii)

Miss Jessie Levy - from about 1940 until about 1980(xvi)(jointly with Mr. J. Joseph from about 1951 until about 1956(xviii))

Membership Data:

Jewish Year Book

1939 - 249 ordinary members plus 48 associate members and 2 burial members(xxi)

National Reports and Surveys(xxii)

1977 - 101 male members and 113 female members

1983 - 76 male members and 95 female members

1990 - 146 members (households)

1996 - 74 members (comprising 17 households, 9 individual male and 48 individual female members)

2010 & 2016 - listed as having 50 to 99 members (by household)

Charitable Status:

No information found as regards registered charity status (as of 22 May 2019)

Local Government District:

All the above addresses at which the congregation held services, apart from Palace Court, are in the London Borough of Camden, and were, until 1965, in the former Metropolitan Borough of Holborn within the former County of London.(xxiii)

Registration District (BMD):

Camden(xxiv) - Link to Register Office website


See London Cemeteries of Liberal Judaism.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) This was the name under which the congregation was listing in Jewish Year Books from its first entry, in 1940, until 1961.

  • (ii) The initial building was built in stages, the synagogue being moved upstairs in 1960, when the upper floors were built. In 1970, part of the building became (and remains) the offices of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues (now Liberal Judaism). in the 1990s, the site was redeveloped, the original building being demolished and replaced by a mixture of housing, offices (including Liberal Judaism's) and the synagogue (source: various sources, as set out in Bibilography, below). During the 1990s redevelopment, the congregation's temporary address was 12/14 Clipstone Street, London W1P 7DF (Jewish Year Books 1934 and 1935).

  • (iii) The Whitfield Tabanacle and Mary Ward Settlement addresses are mention in the Lost Synagogues of London by P. Renton, (2000) p. 158, the other addresses are listed in Jewish Year Books - Fitzroy Square (1945/6 through 1948 editions), Charlotte Street (1949 through 1952 editions) and Palace Court (1953 and 1954 editions).

  • (iv) Reserved.

  • (v) Based upon Lily Montagu's listing as chairman and lay minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1940 (the first appearance of the congregation) through 1963.

  • (vi) Based upon the listing of "Dr F. Solomonski" as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1949 through 1954. Apart from Lily Montagu, there were no prior listing of a minister for the congregation.

  • (vii) Based upon Mr. Ascher's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1956 through 1968. There was no minister listed in the 1955 edition.

  • (viii) Based upon Rabbi Pavey's listing in Jewish Year Books as assistant minister from 1966 through 1968 and as minister from 1969 through 1970.

  • (ix) Based upon Rabbi Rigál's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1974 through 1985.

  • (x) Based upon Rabbi Avidan's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1986 through 1994.

  • (xi) Based upon Rabbi Solomon's profile on Liberal Judaism's website and his listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1995 through 2000.

  • (xii) Based upon Rabbi Burden's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 2003 through 2014. There was no minister listed in the editions for 2001, 2002 or 2015 (the last publication).

  • (xiii) As stated on the congregation's website, last accessed 6 January 2021, Rabbi Tabick leads the Shabbat and Festival services and provides education classes and other activities during the week, although there is no indication when these started although the website, accessed 4 February 2017, already referred to her leading the services.

  • (xiv) Based upon Cantor Harmon's listing as reader or cantor of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1992 through 2015 (the last publication) and reference to her on the congregation's website, when accessed 22 May 2019, but no longer mentioned, when accessed 30 December 2020.

  • (xv) These names are as listed in Jewish Year Books from 1940 (the year in which the congregation was first listed) through 1956. Thereafter the Jewish Year Book ceased listing vice-chairmen of the congregation. The dates given here commence from the year prior to the first relevent listing until the year of the last listing.

  • (xvi) Based upon Miss Levy being listed as the congregation's hon. secretary in Jewish Year Books from 1940 through 1980. She is also listed from 1945/6 as Treasurer (or as a Joint Treasurer as regards Jewish Year Books from 1952 through 1956).

  • (xvii) Based upon Miss Tasch being listed as the congregation's hon. secretary in the Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (xviii) Based upon Mr. Joseph's listing as joint secretary in the Jewish Year Books 1952 through 1956.

  • (xix) and (xx) Reserved.

  • (xxi) Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (xxii) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by or on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD)and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports. In compiling the report for 2010, the size of membership of this congregation was inferred from 2005 data as it was not possible for the BoD to obtain the data direct.

  • (xxiii) The London Borough of Camden, an Inner London Borough within the Greater London administrative area, was created on 1 April 1965 upon the merger of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn and St. Pancras, all of which had been within the (then abolished) County of London (established in 1899).

  • (xxiv) The former Registration Districts were: St Pancras, from 1 April 1965 until 1 October 1977; and Holborn, from the formation of Congregation until 1 April 1965. All registers would now be held by current register office.


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


  • Selected Bibliography:

    • My Club and I by Lily Montague, Lily (1941)

    • The West Central Story and its Founders 1993-1968 by Nellie G. Levy (1968)

    • History of the West Central Liberal Synagogue by Lawrence Rigal (1978)

    • The Lost Synagogues of London by Peter Renton (2000)  pp. 158-159

    • The Synagogues of London by Paul Lindsay (1993) p. 79

    • Living Up West, Jewish Life in London's West End by Gerry Black (1994) pp. 147-149, 188-218

    • Other London Borough of Camden sources

on Third Party websites

List of Liberal Judaism Congregations

List of Synagogues destroyed or damaged by German air raids during World War II

Jewish Congregations in the London Borough of Camden

Jewish Congregations in Greater London (other than East End)

Greater London home page

Page created: 23 July 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 21 October 2018
Latest revision or update: 6 January 2021

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