|Formation||1870 (1965 as a registered charity)|
|Founder||Nathan Marcus Adler|
|Headquarters||305 Ballards Lane, North Finchley, London, N12 8GB|
|64 synagogues; 40,000 members|
|Stephen Pack (President)
Jeremy Jacobs (Chief Executive)
|Source: UK Charity Commission|
The United Synagogue is a union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues, representing the central Orthodox movement in Judaism. With 64 congregations, comprising 40,000 members, it is the largest synagogue body in Europe. The spiritual leader of the union bears the title of Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Empire - a title that bears some formal recognition by the Crown, even though his rabbinical authority is recognized only by slightly more than half of British Jews.
The United Synagogue was mandated by an Act of Parliament in 1870, granting formal recognition to a union of three London synagogues forged by Nathan Marcus Adler, who bore the title of Chief Rabbi of Britain. Leaders of the organization included Nathan Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild, who served as president in 1910.
At the time of its inception, the United Synagogue was the dominant force in Jewish communal and religious organization, though the organization lost some of its hegemony in the 1880s with mass migrations of Jews from Eastern Europe, who brought with them strains of Hassidic Judaism, Reform Judaism and secularism.
In 1887, Jewish community leader Samuel Montagu created the Federation of Synagogues, which worked to unite Orthodox synagogues of Russian and other eastern European migrants living in the slums of East London. Today, the Federation serves 21 synagogues, compared to the United Synagogue's 64. There are also numerous orthodox synagogues in Britain, including Haredi, Chabad, and others, unaffiliated with United Synagogue. In addition, there are congregations of Reform, Masorti and progressive Jews that are not included in the United Synagogue; so that, today, the organization represents about 30 percent of all British congregants. Since 1990, central Orthodoxy has declined from 66 percent to 55 percent of total congregants, though this decline has flattened out in recent years.
United Synagogue provides a number of religious services to the Orthodox community, including:
- The Tribe youth movement, which offers after-school programs, programs for toddlers, and trips to Israel for youth.
- Young US - programs for young adults.
- A Beit Din (the London Beth Din) - a religious court to decide halakhic matters.
- Certification of Kashrut under the auspices of the London Beth Din.
- Burial services, including the maintenance of several cemeteries.
- Educational material provided by We Believe in Israel, the grassroots initiative of BICOM.
United Synagogue is an active supporter of Israel. The organization sponsors trips to Israel for members and youth, distributes information packages about Israel from its website, and offers courses in Israeli history and politics and Hebrew. In October 2014, it urged its members to lobby members of Parliament to oppose a motion to recognize the State of Palestine.
Activities are financed mostly from charitable donations and gifts, and from dues paid by member synagogues. Some revenues are generated from some £80 million in assets and investments (mostly synagogue buildings).
- Newman, Aubrey (1976). The United Synagogue, 1870-1970. Routledge & K. Paul. ISBN 9780710084569.
- Summary Information Return 2013
- 242552 - UNITED SYNAGOGUE Charity overview
- Trustees’ Report and Annual Accounts year ended 31 December 2013
- Rocker, Simon (February 19, 2015). "Time to change: we must adapt say shul leaders". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
- Graham, David; Vulkan, Daniel (13 May 2010), Synagogue membership in the United Kingdom in 2010, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011, retrieved 3 April 2011
- "United Synagogue". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1909. Retrieved 2015-04-28.
- "The Federation of Synagogues". Retrieved 2015-04-28.
- Graham, David; Vulkan, Daniel. "Synagogue Membership in the United Kingdom in 2010".
- "United Synagogue". theus.org.uk.
- "Wake-up call over UK Palestine vote". thejc.com.
- "Constituent Members". Jewish Leadership Council. Retrieved 2 Jul 2015.
- "Hustings with Candidates for Board of Deputies". United Synagogue. 16 Apr 2015. Retrieved 2 Jul 2015.
The United Synagogue in partnership with the Spanish & Portuguese Jews' Congregation invite you to attend a Hustings on 10th May at Edgware United with the candidates for these positions.
- Apple, Raymond (August 2009). Apple, Raymond, ed. "Nathan Marcus Adler—Chief Rabbi, by Rabbi Raymond Apple". OzTorah. Retrieved July 2012.