Synagogues

Synagogues

London's synagogues in the 20th century were varied and included large, well-established institutions with long histories, as well as small, short-lived places of worship that sprung up in the East End to cater to new immigrants from Eastern Europe. These synagogues were affiliated to several different branches of the Jewish faith.

London's three great 18th-century synagogues, the Great Synagogue, the New Synagogue and the Hambro Synagogue, established the oldest branch, the United Synagogue, in 1870. Nine more synagogues had joined the union by the turn of the century, and almost 50 by the start of the Second World War. The expansion of London's Jewish population in the north and west of the city led to tremendous growth after the war. Between 1945 and 50, 25 new synagogues joined, and a further 15 had joined by 1970. Since then, the growth has slowed, but the United remains the largest Jewish movement in Britain.

Samuel Montagu, a prominent banker and politician, created the Federation of Synagogues in 1887 to bring together the large numbers of synagogues established by newly settled Jews in the East End. These were usually very small, and were sometimes simply a room in a private house. The congregations were often drawn from the same home town or profession. Many Federation synagogues closed in the mid-20th century.

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