Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue

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Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue has the largest community of any single Orthodox synagogue in the whole of Europe as of 2012.[1] It is a constituent of the United Synagogue (mainstream Orthodox).[2] It is situated in Stanmore in the London Borough of Harrow.

History[edit]

Seat Holders[3]
1946 57 male seat holders
1950 296 male seat holders
1960 594 male seat holders
1970 1,016 male seat holders

The congregation became affiliated with United Synagogue in 1946, becoming a district synagogue in 1952 and subsequently a constituent (member) synagogue.[3]

Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue has previously been called "Stanmore and Canons Park District Synagogue" and "Canons Park & District Hebrew Congregation".[3]

  • The current building (Main Shul) was consecrated on 18 March 1951 (Jewish Date: 10th Adar 5711) by Dayan Dr I. Grunfeld and Isaac Wolfson Esq.. The Synagogue was actually built facing north rather than east (towards Jerusalem).
  • The community centre was consecrated on 8 September 1963. The Freeman Susman Hall (above the community centre) is actually bigger than the main synagogue itself.
  • The corridor between the main synagogue and the community centre was widened in an extension in 2002. As part of the extension a garden was established at the front of the building.
  • The synagogue added a lift in 2008 so that disabled members could access all parts of the building.
  • In 2014 the main shul was refurbished as well as half of the classrooms.

Previous Rabbis[edit]

Rabbi Dr Jeffrey Cohen retired from the rabbinate in January 2006 after a distinguished career, the last 20 years of which he was rabbi of Stanmore Synagogue in N.W. London, with the largest membership of any Orthodox congregation in Europe. Rabbi Cohen has been hailed as a champion of Modern Orthodoxy, and has strongly promoted that philosophy, for some 40 years, within the Anglo-Jewish rabbinate, in the pages of the Anglo-Jewish press, and in his own writings. In that capacity, he was invited, at its inception, to become the rabbinic adviser and a governor of Immanuel College.

Rabbi Cohen is an avid author who has written many books, journals and articles including the "1001 questions on....." festivals. He published more than 23 books in the past 20 years [4] with the most recent being 'Genesis in Poetry' which has proved to be most popular, and Rabbi Jeffrey is in great demand, by schools, synagogue and literary groups, to give poetry readings.

Resident rabbis[edit]

  • Rabbi Mendel Lew, Senior Rabbi
  • Rabbi Andrew Shaw, former Youth Rabbi now Community Rabbi
  • Rabbi Melvyn Bloom
  • Reverend Gale
  • Rabbi Benji Landau

Youth Director[edit]

There have been five past Youth Directors.

Youth activities[edit]

Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue is well known for its youth activities. Stanmore provides a huge variety of programmes for the youth of the community. This includes trips, plays, youth clubs, Jewish Learning and external groups. Stanmore is also well known for its "Learn To Lead" programme, which is now also used in Bushey, Radlett, Edgware and many other communities following its enormous success in Stanmore.

Plays[edit]

Rabbi Shaw has written numerous plays that have been performed by young people on stage in the synagogue's main Hall. The Haim Potter series is one of the more famous of the plays. There are four current plays; Haim Potter and the Megillah of Fire, Haim Potter and the Chanukiah of Good and Evil, Haim Potter and the Betrayal of the Chanukiah and Haim Potter and the Gift of Life. The series of plays is a take on Harry Potter, with Jewish themes such as Charity, Shabbat and Kosher. Haim Potter has also been bought and performed by other synagogues in England.[5] Other plays include Back To Shushan, a take on Back to the Future, and Grease, a take on Grease. Rabbi Shaw is indicating that the next yeargroup to perform Haim Potter may do it on the big screen, as they are making a movie rather than an on-stage performance.

Youth clubs and Jewish Learning[edit]

A range of clubs during the week that take place in the community centre or the "Youth Lounge". As for Jewish learning, the synagogue runs a Beit Midrash programme where sixth formers can pair up with older Chavrutahs to learn texts or discuss issues.[6]

Learn to Lead[edit]

Learn to Lead is an extensive programme where young people are given the opportunity to run the activities for the younger children. This starts with weekly sessions then the Learn to Lead Israel Trip (February Half term year 9), the Prague Trip (February Half Term Year 10), the Leadership Weekend and finally the Tribe Poland Trip.[7] The programme is linked closely with Tribe and many of the leaders Stanmore produces go on to lead in other communities.[8]

External groups[edit]

There are several groups that either are run by the synagogue, are affiliated with the synagogue or use the synagogue's community centre as a venue.


16th Edgware Scout Group which includes Beavers, Cubs and Scouts has held its weekly meetings in the Synagogue's premises since its inception in 1958. [9]


Phoenix Jewish Explorer Scouts meet in the community centre weekly.


2/6th Stanmore Brownies, 6th Stanmore Guides and 1st Stanmore Rainbows Rainbows also have their meetings in the community centre.


Bnei Akiva, a worldwide Jewish youth movement, has a branch in Stanmore, as well as JLGB.

Tribe[edit]

Stanmore has a strong connection with Tribe as Rabbi Shaw is the Executive Director.[10] Stanmore's various trips are usually connected with Tribe (Tribe Poland Trip). Year 9–13 participates in the Tribe Football Frenzy.[11]

Publications[edit]

  • Stanmore and Cannons Park Synagogue has a weekly leaflet that is given out on Friday night and Saturday morning. The front cover contains details about the Parashah and a thought from the Rabbi. The middle pages list any celebrations and bereavements in the past week and a list of events happening in the following week. The back page shows which members of the community will be leading/ participating in various sections of the prayer. The leaflet was started in 1994.
  • The Youth Service produce their own leaflet called Achlah (meaning 'Cool' in Hebrew). It was started in 2004 and the name was briefly changed to T-Weekly mid-2007.
  • The synagogue produces a biannual magazine called the Habima.
  • The shuls' members compiled a series of essay and thoughts on each weeks Parasha which was named 'The Friday Night Companion'.

Coordinates: 51°37′15″N 0°17′56″W / 51.62083°N 0.29889°W / 51.62083; -0.29889

References[edit]

External links[edit]