New West End Synagogue

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Coordinates: 51°30′39.8″N 0°11′25.5″W / 51.511056°N 0.190417°W / 51.511056; -0.190417

New West End Synagogue
New West End Synagogue exterior.JPG
New West End Synagogue façade from St. Petersburgh Place
Basic information
Location St. Petersburgh Place, London
 United Kingdom[1]
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
District Notting Hill/Bayswater
Municipality London
Year consecrated 1879
Status Active
Heritage designation National monument, Grade I Listed(UK)
Leadership Geoffrey Shisler
Website www.newwestend.org.uk
Architectural description
Architect(s) George Ashdown Audsley
Completed 1879
Capacity 800

The New West End Synagogue, located in St. Petersburgh Place, Bayswater, London, is one of the oldest synagogues in the United Kingdom still in active use. It is one of two synagogues which have been awarded Grade I listed status by the British government, and has been described by English Heritage as "the architectural high-water mark of Anglo-Jewish architecture". It is the UK's most popular venue for synagogue weddings[citation needed] and can accommodate approximately 800 people.

History[edit]

Designed by George Audsley of Scotland in collaboration with Nathan S. Joseph, its foundation stone was laid on June 7, 1877 by Leopold de Rothschild in the presence of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, and the building was formally opened on March 30, 1879.

Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the State of Israel, and Herbert Samuel, the British High Commissioner for Palestine during the British Mandate, were both members of the synagogue. Their seats are marked with plaques. The synagogue's first rabbi was Simeon Singer, who translated and edited the Authorized Daily Prayer Book, which is still used in Orthodox synagogues across Great Britain.[2]

Perhaps the most famous rabbi of New West End Synagogue was Louis Jacobs, whose ties with the synagogue were severed in what became known as the Jacobs affair, and went on to found the Masorti movement.

In August 2007, the New West End Synagogue was declared a national monument.[3]

Community[edit]

The New West End Synagogue is a constituent of the United Synagogue (Orthodox) and serves the Jewish communities of Bayswater, Notting Hill, Kensington, Hammersmith and West London. Opened in 1879, it has in recent years enjoyed a major communal renaissance under the leadership of Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler and his wife Anne.

As well as regular services, the synagogue provides regular children's services for the under 5s and over 5s; Hebrew classes for children up to Bar or Bat Mitzvah age; a Mothers & Toddlers Group, regular adult education seminars and lectures; a keep fit group for ladies. There is a social committee; a Guild, which organises a range of lectures, outings and charitable activities; an Israel Group which arranges lectures and briefings on the Middle East by experts from all sides of the political spectrum; a Cares Group, which ensures that elderly and infirm members receive regular contact; and a Friendship Club, which meets monthly for more senior members.

Architecture[edit]

Interior

Particularly notable is the splendid Torah ark. Designed by Joseph, it closely resembles the ark he designed for Glasgow's Garnethill Synagogue; both arks are raised on platforms, approached by a series of circular marble steps, and project into the room in the form as a multi-domed and arched building.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Synagogue website.
  2. ^ Uni, Assaf (September 8, 2007). "U.K. grants London Synagogue same national status as Stonehenge". Haaretz. 
  3. ^ Uni, Assaf (September 8, 2007). "U.K. grants London Synagogue same national status as Stonehenge". Haaretz. 
  4. ^ Sharman Kadish, Jewish Heritage in England : An Architectural Guide, English Heritage, 2006, pp. 195-6.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]