Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue

Below you will read an outline history of the growth of the synagogue and its community.

To study these in more depth do please refer to the various headed sections.

The origins of the community

By the early 1930s the number of Jewish residents in the Suburb  started to rise significantly, especially in the still being developed eastern  part.  This created a need  for a spiritual and  indeed communal Centre.   It was met initially in 1932 by provision of a space by the Institute at Central Square to allow small size Sabbath services to take place there.

It soon became obvious that a purpose built Synagogue was required. With still much land undeveloped in the eastern section of the Suburb the fledgling Jewish community looked for it there.

Initially they asked Co partnership tenants for the lease of land between    Church Mount and Winnington Road. This was refused on the grounds that it had been designated for a Church and to place a synagogue there was deemed inappropriate. Ultimately a lease was granted in 1934 at the northern end of Norrice Lea backing on the Lyttleton Playing Fields.  

The still small community succeeded the to gain the support of the United Synagogue and was so enabled to build a small synagogue and appoint a spiritual leader.

The synagogue opened in 1935 with some 70 families being members and the following year  appointed  Reverend  Isaac Levy as its first  full time minister.       

A rapid growth in the local Jewish community, up to some 250 families by the end of 1938   meant that the initial building was far too small and the enlarged  synagogue was opened  just after the War broke  out, in late 1939. 

The war years

By then Rev  Bornstein  was appointed  to lead the community . Shortly afterwards he joined the army as a chaplain. He was posted to North Africa and unfortunately died tragically there. His wife Miriam remained within community and took on a major role in developing its both religious and secular educational programs.

Throughout the war years the synagogue grew  both in membership numbers and activities.  It became an essential social  Centre .  The Suburb itself was not spared the effects of air raids and the original Synagogue now its hall area was struck by a bomb.

The spiritual leadership now the hands of  Rabbi  Dr Weinstock  gave  renewed impetus to the growth  of  the community.  Among other things is  played a major role  as did the neighbouring  reform Jewish  synagogue Alyth, in  securing the well being of the Kinder Transport children .

The Post War period

With the end of the War came the return of many of the younger members from the armed forces and this stimulated further growth. In 1947 Rabbi Weinstock  stood down and  Rabbi Dr Lew  together with  Cantor  Myer Freilich took over the  spiritual leadership.

The succeeding decade saw further major changes. A primary school, Kerem, was established within the then buildings.  Youth and adult social and education programmes developed further; as did religious education and activites.

This led to a need for further expansion. In 1958 the hall area was rebuilt and more than doubled in size.  It was opened and consecrated by the Chief Rabbi Dr Israel Brodie and with one further less substantial extension in 2002 the synagogue was then as it is today.  


Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue
Additional Info
Website:: www.hgss.org.uk
Featured Collections
1935 Original Synagogue Plans
These photos and documents show the development of the Synagogue before the onset of the Second World War, including the building of the original Synagogue.

Synagogue after being struck by bomb 1941
This series of documents and photos shows the Synagogue during the hard times of World War II, having much of the building destroyed in 1941.

Remembrance Tablet 1958
Photos and documents in this collection relate to the Synagogue in the years soon after the end of the Second World War. 
Detailed Histories

Related Collection
Synagogue's Stained Glass Windows
Documentation regarding the spiritual leaders of the Synagogue as well artefacts and pictures from the building
Related place
Related events
In 1932, the demands for a synagogue and communal centre were met due to the rising number of Jewish residents in the Suburb. There was a provision of space for small size Sabbath Services. 

A lease was granted. The community gained support from the United Synagogue allowing them to build a synagogue and appoint a spiritual leader - Reverend Isaac Levy. 

The purpose-built synagogue opened in 1935 with 70 families as members. However, by 1938 there were some 250 families that were members, making the building too small.

The newly enlarged synagogue was opened just after World War II broke out, in late 1939.

During the course of WWII, the Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue helped to secure the wellbeing of Kindertransport children. The synagogue was also struck by a bomb. 

The Hall was rebuilt due to the need for more space. It was opened and consecrated by the Chief Rabbi Dr Israel Brodie.

The hall was extended once more in 2002, but on a much smaller scale than the previous extension.