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It was originally founded to facilitate a number of Reform and Liberal Jewish institutions, attached to the Movement for Reform Judaism (formerly: Reform Synagogues of Great Britain) principally through education and cultural means. The centre was opened in 1981 by the Manor House Trust and is now named after Sigmund Sternberg. The founding organisations are: Leo Baeck college and the Akiva School, the first Reform Jewish day school in England (also opened in 1981). Later the (Masorti) New North London Synagogue also located there.
The centre also hosted the Jewish Museum, Finchley until 2007; the offices of RSY Netzer, The Zionist Youth Movement for Reform Judaism, are also located there.
New North London Synagogue
The synagogue, which is affiliated to the Masorti movement, was founded by followers of Louis Jacobs, and located to the Sternberg Centre site after some years of nomadic existence. The congregation, which now has about 2,400 members, has recently raised over £6m. to construct a new synagogue building on the site, which was opened in 2011. Designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects, the new synagogue includes three prayer venues, a nursery and teenager’s room, as well as social and administrative spaces. The synagogue's rabbi is Jonathan Wittenberg.
Leo Baeck College
Named in honour of Leo Baeck, the inspirational twentieth century German Reform rabbi, Leo Baeck College was founded in 1956 as a rabbinical school for training Liberal and Reform rabbis. Today, the college is a centre for the training of rabbis and teachers, an educational consultancy, helps the development of community leaders, provides access to Jewish learning for all through interfaith work. It is a degree awarding institution, specialising in Hebrew and other Jewish related subjects. It is based at the Sternberg Centre, East End Road, in North London.
Jewish Museum, Finchley
Originally opened as the Museum of the Jewish East End, founded by David Jacobs in 1983, the museum's main intent was the preservation of the heritage of London's East End, an important and large community which has since largely dissipated. Renamed the London Museum of Jewish Life in 1990, and subsequently amalgamating with the Jewish Museum in Camden Town, the museum diversified to include the history of other Jewish communities in London, and is also active in Holocaust and anti racism education.
The Finchley museum closed in 2007 and moved in 2009 to an enlarged building on the Camden site, which will release space for the expansion of the Akiva school.
- History of Church End Finchley - includes a history of the old Manor House at the centre of the site.
- website of the synagogue.
- Jacobs, David: "Valedictory Address", Issue 98, Manna Magazine, Freedman Brothers Ltd, 2007.