Liberal Jewish Synagogue
|Liberal Jewish Synagogue|
|Location||St John's Wood Road 28, London|
|Leadership||Rabbi Alexandra Wright|
|Architect(s)||Kantor Schwartz, Koski Solomon|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival|
|Groundbreaking||24 September 1989|
|Completed||13 January 1991|
The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, or LJS (Hebrew: קהל קדוש לב חדש, Qahal Kadosh Lev Chadash, "Holy Congregation New Heart") is a house of prayer in St John's Wood, London, the oldest and largest member of Liberal Judaism in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1911, it is currently led by Rabbi Alexandra Wright.
Claude Montefiore's Jewish Religious Union, established 1902, opened a prayer association in a converted chapel at Hill Street, London 18, on 4 February 1911. Within a year, Hebrew Union College graduate Rabbi Israel Mattuck was appointed minister. By 1915, the congregation had 416 members and grew, reaching 784 in 1921. A permanent edifice at St John's Wood, with a capacity of 1,400 people and designed by architect Ernest Joseph, was dedicated on 13 September 1925. It had 1,622 registered members in 1940. In November 1940, during the Blitz the building sustained heavy damage from an enemy bomb. It was restored, and reopened with a celebratory service on 24 September 1951. In 1984, the discovery of structural defects convinced the board to demolish and rebuild the sanctuary: some of the land was sold off to finance the enterprise. A concluding prayer was held on 30 April 1988, before relocating to a temporary house of worship. On 13 January 1991, the new edifice was dedicated. It is the largest congregation of Liberal Judaism in Britain, with over 2,000 registered adults and children as of 2010.
Rabbi Mattuck conducted services until 1947, retiring to function as Rabbi Emeritus, and was replaced by his former assistant, Leslie Edgar. John Rayner was senior minister between 1961 and 1989. He was succeeded by David Goldberg, who was in turn replaced by Alexandra Wright in 2004. The synagogue employs the Lev Chadash denominational prayerbook. Since its earliest days, it has had mixed-gender seating.
- Daniel R. Langton, Claude Montefiore: his Life and Thought, Vallentine Mitchell, 2002, p. 98;
- Geoffrey Alderman, Modern British Jewry, Oxford University Press, 1998. p. 354
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