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University of California, Los Angeles 


The gift of Mrs. Cummings, 1963 

nws " 








NISAN 2, 5677 MA'RCH 25, 1917 

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NISAN 2, 5677 MARCH 25, 1917 



fficers, 5677=1917 



^Financial "Representative : 


"Representatives at tbe Council : 


JBoaro of Management: 






And the Wardens and Financial Representative ex officio. 

"Representative at tbe JBoaro of ^Deputies : 

/DMnister : 

"Reader : 

Cboirmaster : 

aseaote anD Collector : 



GREAT difficulty has been experienced in writing an account of 
the early history of the Synagogues in the Borough. The only 
old record preserved is an account lxx>k covering the period 1823 to 
1867, but the bearing of the entries upon the congregational history is 
not always clear. Much contained in the following pages could not 
have been written but for the kind assistance of Mr. Nathan Levi, a 
grandson of Mr. Nathan Henry, one of the first Jewish settlers in 
South London. The file of the Jewish Chronicle was readily placed 
at my disposal by the Editor, and much information has been obtained 
by direct, communication with gentlemen who have been prominently 
associated with the Synagogue, Messrs. E. A. Cohen, J. A. Cohen, 
Philip Ornstien, and B. Cohen, and Mrs. A. Levy, to all of whom my 
cordial thanks are hereby tendered, whilst the personal recollections of 
the late Mr. Moss Benjamin and the late Mr. Benjamin Lyons, as 
recounted by them when I caught them in a reminiscent mood, have 
been most helpful. 

Adar, 5677. 

February, 1917. 


THE precise period .when Jews first settled in South London it is 
now impossible to determine. Several names of Jewish 
residents are to be found in the lists of subscribers printed in editions 
of the Festival Prayers (Machsorim), published towards the end of the 
eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. These 
lived in the " Borough," a term designating a larger area than at 
present, comprising, as it did, the whole of the main road from London 
Bridge as far as the beginning of the Kennington Park Road, with all 
the thoroughfares adjoining it. Others resided in Blackfriars and 
Lambeth, and all were said to live "over the water," a delightfully 
Tague name for the district on the South side of the River. 

Tradition has it that at one time the local Jewish residents repaired 
to the King's Bench Prison, in the Borough, for divine service, the 
unfortunate debtors incarcerated there helping to form the quorum 
necessary for public worship (Minyan), which the Jews of the Borough 
could not themselves muster. On these occasions a Mr. Lewis 
(popularly known as "Captain" Lewis, grandfather of the late Sir 
'George Lewis, the celebrated solicitor) used to preside at the Reading 
of the Law. About the year 1799 a Air. Nathan Henry, the son of 
Henry Abrahams, a connection of the well-known family of Hebrew 
printers and booksellers, permitted a room in his house to be used as 
a Synagogue. He resided at 2 Market Street (now Dantzic Street) 
a street leading out from Newington Causeway and running parallel 
with London Road at its junction with London Street. Nathan 
Henry was born in 1764 or 1765, and as a lad of fifteen had heard 
Lord George Gordon, who afterwards became a proselyte to Judaism, 
.addressing meetings in St. George's Fields, which were facing his 

parents' house. Some years later he roofed in the whole of the yard 
at the rear of his house and shop, fitted the enclosure as a Synagogue, 
defraying all the expenses thus incurred. He himself officiated at 
the services, being assisted only on the High Festivals. Amongst 
those who, at different periods, read the Festival Prayers was 
Nathaniel Jessel, uncle of the famous Master of the Rolls. Entrance 
to the Synagogue was gained by the shop, which was an old-iron store, 
and thence through the "shop parlour/' and the ladies had to ascend 
the stairs leading from this room to a bedroom above, through which 
they passed into the tiny gallery, which contained but two rows of 
seats. It was a modest building, which served its purpose for many 
years. In 1845 it was substantially repaired, and then provided 
accommodation for 100 persons, being described as "extremely small." 
The Treasurer, John Henry Lyons, held himself responsible for the 
cost of the repairs some ^40 towards which the sum of ,23 was 
collected at the re-consecration. 

There seems to be no doubt but that the worshippers at this small 
Synagogue contributed towards the expenses entailed by its upkeep. 
Nathan Henry, however, always styled himself the "proprietor" of 
the Synagogue, claiming the right of appointing its Wardens, since he 
had erected it at his own cost. Several regular worshippers who 
favoured a more democratic rule seceded from this congregation, and 
in 1823 they rented a building at the beginning of St. George's Road, 
near the " Elephant and Castle." This portion of the road was then 
known as Prospect Place, and the Synagogue was situated at the end 
of a short court between the buildings numbered 91 and 92 Prospect 
Place. It is probable that they had a meeting-place in the same 
locality a few years earlier than 1823. The leader of these seces- 
sionists was Mr. Aaron Cohen, father of Mr. Edward A. Cohen and 
Mr. John A. Cohen, who are still happily with us, having remained 
members of the Borough Synagogue although long resident in another 
part of the Metropolis. Mr. Aaron Cohen became Treasurer of the new 
congregation, and held this office for more than fifty years, until 
immediately after the erection of the present Borough Synagogue. 
Thus, the association of the father and sons with the Borough Congre- 
gation covers a period of just one century. 

The congregation came into possession of the building, which, it 
seems, was originally intended for use as stables, towards the end of 
1823, and services were held almost immediately. A sum of about 

7 1 

was expended in adapting it for the purposes of a Synagogue, 
and the consecration took place in September, before the High Fes- 
tivals, one guinea being paid to the Chazan who officiated and a similar 
sum to the " Singer," a Mr. Marks. A lease of the building was 
taken in 1826, and the account book of that year describes the 
congregation as JllIMrf |"OD NlfcO (the "Borough New Minyan.") 
The Presidents were then Mr. W. Simmonds and Mr. L. Levy. 

In 1831, when the Synagogue was rebuilt, in all likelihood 
only as regards its interior, at a cost of ^230, towards which sum 
^163 was received from subscriptions, the congregation was indebted 
to the Treasurer to the amount of ^78, of which ^13 was on account 
of ordinary Synagogue expenditure. This rebuilding was followed 
by a re-consecration, and a similar ceremony took place in 1841, when 
some alterations were effected. Among the prominent seatholders at 
this early period was Mr. Baruch Cohen, grandfather of Mr. 
Neville D. Cohen. In 1827, his wife presented a handsome curtain 
for the Ark, and this was renovated sixty years later by their son, Mr. 
David Cohen. All the members of Mr. Cohen's family, and his 
kinsmen, the Levys, were associated with the Synagogue at that time. 
The descendants of both families have held responsible positions in the 
congregations of Liverpool and. Sydney (New South Wales), as well as 
distinguished public offices in these cities, and it is a curious coincidence 
that the two present Ministers of the latter congregation were taken 
directly from the Borough Synagogue, the ^selection being in the hands 
of members of these two families. 

In 1830, Nathan Ornstien had become an official of the congre- 
gation, although he had been connected with it in some minor capacity 
since 1823. He was a native of Nymegen, in Holland, a good Hebrew 
scholar, possessing the Hatorath Horoah (Rabbinical Diploma), and 
was affectionately known as "Rabbi Noson." His name disappears 
from the books in 1850, and his son, Phineas, succeeded him in an 
honorary capacity, becoming the paid Secretary in 1862, in which 
office his son, Philip Ornstien, the present Secretary of the United 
Synagogue, served for a short time in 1885, pending the appointment 
of a permanent Secretary.- The general factotum of the congregation 
Reader, Secretary, and Collector was Joseph J. Phillips, quite a 
personage in h : s way, who, from the establishment of the congregation 
until his death in 1862, combined with his Synagogual duties the secre- 
taryship of one or two local Jewish organisations, in addition to his 


avocation of a repairing jeweller. The congregation was usually in 
debt to the Treasurer, and it was only in 1846 that for the first time 
it had a small balance on the right side. The Presidents were then 
Mr. B. L. Phillips and Mr. J. Joseph, while Messrs. M. Harris, 
P. Cohen, and J. A. Ellis were members of the Committee. In 1847, 
some alterations, probably in the way of seatwigs, were made to the 
building. In 1848, the actual income was no, the expenditure 
'being less than ^100. In 1853, there was a sudden rise in the income, 
this being ^189, although it fell again next year, rising again in 1856, 
and then steadily increasing. This large increase in 1853 was due to 
a payment of 50 in July of that year. Nathan Henry had died on 
Eyar 4, 5613 (May 12, 1853), at the age of 88, and the little Syna- 
gogue in his garden ceased to be used within a couple of months of his 
death. For some years previously much difficulty had been ex- 
perienced in collecting a congregation on Sabbaths, besides his own 
family only two or three residents attending regularly. His death 
merely hastened the inevitable closing of his Synagogue, most of its 
members joining the Prospect Place Synagogue, and the greater part 
of the 50 was, it may be assumed, a balance handed over by the 
Market Street congregation. 

The relations between the two congregations were always of a 
cordial character. There must have been some transactions between 
Nathan Henry and the Prospect Place Synagogue at its very inception, 
for the first two entries in the account book of the latter are records of 
small sums paid to him in November and December, 1823. What 
these were for it is now impossible to ascertain. Nathan Henry him- 
self was on friendly terms with the leaders of the other Synagogue, 
but it is said that he never set foot within their place of worship. 
Although the newer congregation was certainly the larger, the Market 
Street Synagogue alone received the official recognition of the Eccle- 
siastical Authorities. Thus, when Dr. Nathan M. Adler, some few 
months after entering upon his duties as Chief Rabbi, visited the 
Borough, on November 30, 1845, it was the Market Street Synagogue 
that he honoured. In an address on that occasion, the Chief Rabbi 
said : 

" This minor temple has been erected nearly half a century. 
. . . Those who frequent this, are all of them, more or less, 
subscribing members to either the one or the other Synagogues in 
London and its vicinities. . . . The founder of this Synagogue 

, . . did devote a portion of his habitation to the service of God 
so that his co-religionists might not be without a House of 

Nathan Henry was then eighty years of age, and was regarded as 
the head of the Jews in the Borough, and it was, perhaps, due to the 
respect in which he was held, as well as to the influence of his nephew, 
the Rev. H. A. Henry, of the'Western Synagogue, St. Alban's Place, 
Haymarket, that his Synagogue was considered to be the official Syna- 
gogue in the South of London. At the time of this visit the Wardens 
were Mr. D. Daniels and Mr. L. Goldsmid, and the Treasurer Mr. 
J. H. Lyons. So far as is known, the Chief Rabbi never visited the 
Prospect Place Synagogue during the whole forty-four years of its 

The Jews of the Borough had other institutions besides their 
Synagogues. In 1812 there was established the " Tent of Righteous- 
ness " Friendly Society, which assured to its members payment of a 
weekly sum during sickness, besides Shiva and death benefits. Seat- 
holders of both Synagogues were amongst its members and officers. 
The Society existed down to 1913, when it amalgamated with the South 
London Lodge of the Order Achei B'rith, one of the larger Jewish 
friendly organisations which have come into .being during recent times. 
Some particulars regarding its origin and history will be found in the 
Jewish Chronicle of January 10, 1913, in connection with the cele- 
bration of its centenary. 

The present Borough Synagogue preserves a ragged and faded slip 
of paper, containing a written announcement in Yiddish and English 
of the proposed establishment of a charitable society. The English 
version, in its quaint orthography, reads as follows : 

" Several Members of this Congregation are now erecting a 
Society for the casual Relief of Distresed Isralites who 
reside in Southwark, the Comitte trust it will meett with the 
support of Benevolent. 

" This Society will commence Receiving subscriptions oji 
the first Day of the ensuing JTirP^D 

"August 15, 1825. 

" J. PHILLIPS, Secretary." 

This was, in all probability, the society that was afterwards known 
as the " Surrey Jewish Philanthropic Institution," and, still later, as 


the " Surrey Philanthropic Society for Relieving Persons of the Jewish 
Persuasion." In the middle of last century it used to meet in St. 
George's Road, at the house of Mrs. Levy, mother of David Lewis, the 
well-known philanthropist of Liverpool. Subscribers were entitled tO' 
participate in a drawing twice annually for cash or grocery, which the 
winners were expected to distribute among the deserving poor. The 
Society was still in existence in 1869, when it was permitted to hold its 
meetings in the Committee room of the present Synagogue. 

From 1853 the Prospect Place Synagogue remained the sole house 
of prayer for the Jews resident on the South side of the River. From 
this date it flourished, becoming the proud possessor in 1855 of ^75 
worth of Three per cent. Annuities Reduced Stock, to which it added 
almost every year until in 1865 its holding amounted to ,500. At 
the beginning of 1862 Mr. Phineas Ornstien became Secretary and 
Collector, and old Joe Phillips retired on an annuity of ^21 per annum 
after almost forty years' service. He lived to enjoy his well-earned 
rest less than two years, dying on January 19, 1864, at the age of 71. 
In the announcement of his death in the Jewish Chronicle, he is de- 
scribed as the Rev. Mr. Joseph J. Phillips. He was never married, 
and by his will he bequeathed ,50 to the Borough Synagogue, ;io 
to the New Synagogue, and similar amounts to the Institution for the 
Blind, the Initiation Society, and the Orphan Asylum. He had pre- 
viously presented a curtain for the Ark and various prayer books for 
the use of the Reader of the Synagogue. In 1862, also, appears in 
the books for the first time the name of the Rev. Solomon Levy as 
Reader. One of his sons is the Rev. Dr. J. Leonard Levy, Rabbi of 
the Rodeph Shalom Congregation at Pittsburgh. The accounts for 
1865 record the receipt of a legacy of ,50 from Mr. Z. A. Jessel,. 
grandfather of the late Mr. Albert H. Jessel, for twenty-five years 
President of the Borough Jewish Schools. 

In September, 1866, the lease of the Synagogue expired, and the 
sum of ^70 was paid to Messrs. Drake and Son on account of dilapi- 
dations. For some years back much consideration had been given to 
the question of erecting a new Synagogue, and a Building Committee 
had been appointed in 1865, at the head of which was Mr. Barnett 
Meyers, a gentleman who did not reside in South London, but was a 
well-known and highly esteemed co-religionist possessing great in- 
fluence with the wealthier members of the community. Mr. Aaron 
Cohen was at first one of the Treasurers, his colleague being Mr.. 


^Morris Harris, -but on his resignation Mr. David L. Jacobs was elected 
in his stead, and 'he brought to the work a zeal and a genius for 
" begging " that helped very considerably to bring the undertaking to 
a successful issue. Another energetic member of the Building Com- 
mittee was Mr. Moss Benjamin, then a Warden of the Synagogue. 
He remained a seatholder of the Synagogue until his death in 1914, 
and probably created a record in Synagogue honours, holding a seat on 
the Board of Management of the Old and New Synagogues for over 
60 years. 

Through the good services of Mr. Abraham Harris, a local resident 
and a member of the Camberwell Vestry, the Fishmongers' Company 
had granted a long lease of a plot of land in Albion Place, the name 
by which the present Heygate Street was then known, and an addi- 
tional piece of land adjoining was now procured from them. 

There was certainly crying need for a new place of worship. The 
old building was incommodious, dilapidated and unsightly, and was 
not even a protection against inclement weather, for the roof admitted 
the rain and the raising of umbrellas during divine worship was no 
unusual occurrence. It was described as being in ruins, ill-shapen and 
inconvenient and by no means creditable to the Jewish community. 
Inconvenient and discreditable it certainly was, for there were hen- 
runs in the stables situated 'in the same court as the Synagogue, and 
mischievous boys, instead of paying due attention to their devotions, 
had the playful habit of chasing the chickens into the Synagogue, per- 
haps at the most solemn moments of the services. No wonder, then, 
that the Jewish press, in its report of the opening of the new Synagogue, 
said : " It is undeniable that for half a century there has been in 
Southwark a place of worship whch for dinginess and insalubrity we 
do not believe had an equal." It accommodated about no gentlemen 
and 36 ladies. There was at the time a gradual influx of Jews from 
the City, where large numbers of dwelling 'houses were being de- 
molished to make room for warehouses, and many applications to rent 
seats had to be refused, nor was there sufficient accommodation for the 
High Festivals. 

An appeal to the Jewish public for assistance, advertised in the 
Jewish Chronicle, was followed by a public meeting on February 25, 
1866. The meeting, over which Mr. Meyers presided, was held in 
the old Synagogue under great difficulties, for the rain freely penetrated 
the roof, and it was deemed advisable to shorten the proceedings as far 

( as was possible. Resolutions were passed for building a new place of 
worship " for the large and increasing Jewish population of the South, 
side of London," emphasising the necessity that, in view of the want 
of Jewish educational institutions in the district, " schools for Jewish 
children should form a prominent feature in the contemplated new 
buildings." It should 'be noted that the only provision for the educa- 
tion of the Jewish youth in the Borough was a private school for boys 
kept by Mr. Henry Harris, Reader of the Law in the Synagogue, and 
another for girls kept by Miss Pariente. The latter was maintained 
by the Baroness de Rothschild, who also subventioned a Sabbath class 
But the efficiency of the instruction was not regarded as being of a high 
character, and many children walked every day to and from the Jews' 
Free School, in Bell Lane, or the School in Greek Street, Soho. 

On May 22 the amount collected was only ,2,000, whilst the 
estimates for the Synagogue, Minister's house, and schools, was 
^5,121. Messrs. X. M. de Rothschild and Sons had, as a result of a 
visit paid to Xew Court by Mr. Meyers and the Rev. A. L. Green, 
Minister of the Central Synagogue, given a donation of ^250. 

The promoters were disappointed in their hopes that their appeal 
would meet with a ready and generous response. The three City Syna- 
gogues were by no means favourably disposed to the erection of a new 
Synagogue within two miles of themselves, and offered no encourage- 
ment to the project. Many of the residents in the Borough were, for 
the purpose of burial rights, members of these Synagogues, and such as 
were not were charged exorbitant rates when sad necessity compelled 
them to solicit the use of the cemeteries belonging to these Synagogues. 
Only four years previously the Bayswater Synagogue had been erected, 
and towards the cost the Great and the New Synagogues had each 
contributed ^1,500. Twelve years earlier the Central Synagogue had 
been opened, the Great having voted ^6,000, and it was just at this 
time that the latter Synagogue was considering the question of contri- 
buting a further similar sum for the removal of this Branch Synagogue 
to a larger site. About this time, too, a movement was on foot for 
erecting a Synagogue in Xorth London. It may be that the City 
Synagogues were influenced in their attitude by the fact that since the 
end of 1866 they were holding conferences to consider the possibility 
of a Union of Synagogues, and they may have thought it inopportune 
and undesirable that they should in any way countenance the establish- 
ment of Synagogues other than as branches of their own, and con- 

sequently liable to be included in the Union' if this were effected. 
Anyhow, they declined to mete out to their poorer co-religionists in the 
South of London the same generous treatment accorded to the rich Jews 
in the West of the Metropolis. The Great Synagogue contented itself 
with the reply : " We wish you much joy in your undertaking, but have 
no funds to you for this purpose." The New Synagogue rejected 
a proposal to vote ^100, as well as an amendment to contribute ^50. 
But then so many members of the Borough Synagogue were mem'bers of 
the New. 

The Borough people. were somewhat sore at the treatment they were 
receiving ; they felt that they merited something better. They had not 
kept themselves aloof from the main stream of Jewish life in the 
Metropolis; they had, for example, in 1863 contributed the sum of 
jQ6o towards the communal collection on behalf of the Lancashire 
Operatives' Fund, and about ,40 for the sufferers by the fire in 
Monastir, in addition to individual contributions given before the 
Jewish collections were organised. They were, most of them, seat- 
holders in one of the City Synagogues, and it was a great hardship 
that they must subscribe to two 'Synagogues in order that they might be 
able to worship conveniently near their homes. They had frequently 
to complain of the lack of courtesy shown them by the Jewish autho- 
rities in the City, events of interest, such as the time of the funeral of 
communal celebrities, in which they would care to participate, never 
being officially intimated to them as a congregation. In fact, the only 
Synagogue recognised by the City Synagogues was that of the "Poor 
Polish Jews " in Cutler Street, Houndsditc'h. 

In view of the lack of support with which the appeal was meeting, 
it was determined to abandon for the present the erection of a Minister's 
house. No public ceremony of laying the foundation stone took place, 
as this would have " entailed an outlay of upwards of ^100, without 
the probability of any commensurate return in the shape of donations on 
that occasion," and, moreover, the Chief Rabbi 'had advised that no 
such ceremony w r as required. On July 12 the builders, Messrs. Hill 
and Keddel, were instructed to proceed forthwith with the work. . On 
December 30, a second appeal was resolved upon, the arrangements for 
this being left in the hands of Mr. D. L. Jacobs. On February 3. 
1867, the Rules and Regulations, as drafted by a Sub-committee under 
the presidency of Mr. M. Davis, were adopted with some modifications, 
it being resolved that the name of the Synagogue should be the Borough 

New Synagogue, propositions to call it the Borough Synagogue, as 
before, and the South London Synagogue, being rejected. 

In spite of the financial difficulty, the consecration of the new build- 
ing took place on Sunday, April 7, 1867 (Xisan 2, 5627). The clergy 
OL almost every London Synagogue, including the Reform, in Margaret 
Street, were present. In the procession customary on such occasions, 
were the Chief Rabbi (Dr. N. M. Adler), the Rev. Dr. Artom (Haham 
of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation), Messrs. B. Meyers, 
S. L. de Symons, H. L. Keeling, S. Moses, D. Benjamin, D. Cohen, 
and the Wardens (Messrs. Moss Benjamin and M. Harris). The 
music was composed and conducted by Mr. J. L. Mombach, the famous 
choirmaster of the Great Synagogue. The afternoon service was read 
by the Rev. S. Levy, and the dedicatory portions by the Rev. M. B. 
Levy, Minister of the Western Synagogue, Haymarket, which had lent 
six Sepharim for use in the circuits around the Synagogue. The Chief 
Rabbi preached a sermon on the text : Exodus xxxix. 43. Donations 
to the amount of ^306 were announced by the Hon. Secretary, Mr. 
H. P. Cohen. 

In the evening about 60 gentlemen, for the most part belonging to 
the congregation, met at Radley's Hotel, Bridge Street, and partook of 
a collation provided at their own expense. It may be mentioned that 
on March 8, 1868, presentations were made to the honorary officers of 
the old Synagogue in recognition of the valuable services rendered by 
them to the congregation while in office. These were Mr. Moss Ben- 
jamin and Mr. J. Morris Harris, who had discharged the duties of 
Wardens for five consecutive years, and Mr. Aaron Cohen, who for 
upwards of fifty years had served as Treasurer. On March 17, 1872, 
the congregation further honoured Mr. Cohen by conferring upon him 
the dignity of ^>!"Tpn U?N"1 (" Head of the Congregation.") 

The following are the names of the Officers, as given in the booklet 
containing the Order of Service at the Consecration of the Synagogue, 
and on a tablet placed in the vestibule : 

Wardens: Mr. Moss Benjamin and Mr. Jacob M. Harris. 
Treasurer: Mr. Aaron Cohen. 
Chairman of Committees: Mr. Barnett Meyers. 
Honorary Solicitor : Mr. Saul Solomon. 

Trustees: Messrs. Jacob M. Harris, Moss Jacobs, and Moss 

Building Committee: Messrs. Mark Davis, Chairman; Morris 
Harris and David L. Jacobs, Treasurers; Henry P. 
Cohen, Hon. Secretary ; Moss Benjamin, Jacob M. Harris, 
and Aaron Cohen. 

Secretary to the Synagogue: Mr. P. Ornstien. 

When the Synagogue \vas consecrated, the schools were not 'com- 
pleted, nor was the Minister's house begun. On April 22 directions 
were given for proceeding these portions of the original scheme. 
The financial difficulty was obviated by the generosity of Mr. J. J. 
Ellis, of Brompton, who loaned the Synagogue a sum of_^i,ooo free 
of interest for one year. 

The Borough Jews were the first among the Ashkenazim to have a 
Synagogue and school attached to each other, and the close association 
between the two institutions, perhaps because they are adjacent, has 
lasted to this day. But it was felt impossible to maintain the school 
out of the income of the Synagogue. The whole of this re- 
quired for its upkeep, and it was believed and this belief was after- 
wards substantiated that the community would be willing to contribute 
for educational purposes what it refused for Synagogue building. It 
was therefore decided that the school should be a separate and dis- 
tinct institution from the Synagogue, and it was handed over to a 
Committee on the following terms : They were to pay to the Synagogue 
by instalments a premium of ^1,000, and an initial rent of ^60 per 
annum, this to be decreased from time to time in proportion to the 
amount of premium already paid, and to be only ;io annually after 
full payment of the premium. It may prove of interest to those who 
now administer our Jewish Day Schools and who experience great diffi- 
culty in procuring the funds necessary for their maintenance to know 
that the Borough School was able to repay the whole of the ^1,000 by 
May, 1872, out of surplus income. 

The schools, which comprised two stories each of two class-rooms, 
and which provided accommodation for 150 children, were opened on 
November 3, 1867, when upwards of 80 boys and girls were enrolled. 
The parents were expected to pay fees as assessed by the Committee 
according to their means, but admission was not refused to children 
whose parents were unable to pay. Mr. B. Berliner, afterwards 
Minister of the St. John's Wood Synagogue, was elected Headmaster, 
and Mr. Henry Harris, who had kept the school in Bath Street and was 
now Reader of the Law at the Synagogue, became his assistant. Miss 


Rebecca Samuel was selected as Headmistress and Miss Zox as Assis- 
tant. Miss Samuel retained her position down to 1900, when she 
retired upon an annual pension of 50, still paid by the school, and 
supplemented by friends of the school. 

Before the completion of the Synagogue, consideration had been 
given to the selection of a Minister. It was generally felt that the 
officials of the old Synagogue were not competent to perform the duties 
which other Synagogues were requiring from their Ministers, more 
particularly in the matter of pulpit instruction which was now forming 
a regular part of the Sabbath and Festival Services in the London 
places of worship. Jews' College, together with its school, had been 
opened in 1855 ; the first generation of pupils in the School had already 
passed into the College, and there were a few capable students just 
completing their course. In a letter dated March 13, 1867, Mr. 
Barnett Meyers had made suggestions for the future welfare of the 
congregation, recommending, among other things, that " it should 
engage a Minister, not a mere singing one, but a learned man who 
understands what he says and will be able to conduct the school also." 
Applications had been received from Simeon Singer and two others, 
but the latter withdrew, and Mr. Singer was elected Minister and 
Secretary on September i, 1867, entering upon his duties on the New 
Year Festival. Mr. Singer was barely twenty-one years of age at 
this time, and there were some who were doubtful of the success of the 
experiment of appointing so young a man. But he quickly gained the 
affections of his congregants, and until this day his name is a household 
word in South London. " To be lovable, live a life of love ' ' was a 
saying of his in after years, and it was the principle that guided him, 
too, during his early years as Minister at the Borough. Much of what 
follows is taken from the Memoir written by his son-in-law, Dr. Israel 
Abrahams. His salary was not an adequate provision, and he was 
forced to teach all day and every day at Jews' College, of which he 
was for a while Headmaster. His marriage with Charlotte Pyke on 
April 21, 1868. was the first marriage celebrated in the new Borough 
Synagogue. This union was one of public interest, as well as personal 
love, for the wife was associated with all her husband's work and 
aspirations. Not only did she perform the Secretarial duties for him, 
but her competent co-operation made it possible for him to serve the 
community in a host of capacities. Husband and wife were the friends 
and counsellors of all. As a preacher he enjoyed a great reputation, 

but Mr. Singer aimed at making others preachers by affording them the 
opportunity of occupying a pulpit. He originated at the Borough the 
system of regularly inviting other Ministers or students at Jews' College 
to preach, and it was at the Borough Synagogue that many a preacher 
now well known found his first opportunity to reveal his powers, for 
there was an almost unbroken succession of visiting preachers during 
the whole period of Mr. Singer's stay in the Borough. When in 1879 
he left the Borough Synagogue to 'become Minister of the New West 
End Synagogue, then just erected, he and his wife took with them the 
hearts of many. They knew personally every child in the school, and 
his interest in the affairs of his first congregation and in its school, in the 
personal fortunes of its people, only ended with his life. And the 
affection that he felt for his old congregation was evidenced by his 
bequeathing to it a legacy more than a quarter of a century after he had 
left it. 

On September 15, the first election of Officers in the new Synagogue 
took place, the choice falling upon Mr. D. L. Jacobs and Mr. H. P. 
Cohen as Wardens, and Mr. Saul Solomon as Treasurer. All these 
had taken a prominent part in the work of erecting the Synagogue, and 
it was a well-deserved compliment to them and, in particular, to Mr. 
Jacobs that they should be the first elected officers of the new Syna- 
gogue. It may here be stated that although Mr. Jacobs's association 
with the Synagogue ceased on his removal from the district he never 
lost his interest in the school, and until his last day was one of its most 
ardent supporters, and his genial presence was ever welcomed alike by 
teachers and pupils. An oil painting of his portrait and another of 
his life-long friend, Mr. Singer, were presented to the Synagogue after 
their deaths by his brother, Mr. Lewis Jacobs, and hang in the Com- 
mittee room. 

In order to provide a Curtain for the Ark and various Synagogue 
appurtenances, a Ladies' Committee was constituted, and Mrs. D. L. 
Jacobs and Mrs. Saul Solomon on its behalf presented the sum of 
^115 to be expended for this purpose. Mrs. Singer afterwards pre- 
sented a handsome Chuppah (marriage canopy) as the gift of the ladies 
of the congregation. This, her own handiwork, is still in use. 

In March, 1868, the Synagogue was opened regularly for daily 
service, and all idea of making it an independent congregation was 
abandoned, in view of the contemplated Synagogual amalgamation. 
The monetajy d fficulties had by no means been overcome, and the 


congregation was compelled to borrow ^2,000 from the bank on the 
security of the block of buildings comprising the Synagogue, school, 
and Minister's house, in order to liquidate the building account. 

Early in 1869, seats in the Synagogue were allotted for the special 
use of the schoolchildren, some alterations being made for this purpose. 

Very shortly 'before the High Festivals in that year apprehensions 
\vere felt regarding the safety of the Synagogue. Mrs. Singer had 
observed an ominous caving-in of one of the walls, and had found on 
the floor of the gallery pieces of plaster which had fallen from the 
roof. One Sabbath, while the congregation was engaged in silent 
prayer, a tremendous piece of ceiling fell with a loud crash. There 
was some alarm for a moment, but no panic ; and the service was com- 
pleted in the customary manner. Immediate steps were taken to 
ascertain the cause, and although service was 'held in the Synagogue on 
the New Year (September 6), it was deemed advisable to engage a 
hall for worship on the Day of Atonement and during the Festival of 
Tabernacles, in case an adverse opinion be received in the meanwhile, 
Mr. M. S. Joseph generously holding himself responsible for the ex- 
penses that would thereby be entailed. The government surveyor and 
the police authorities, however, sanctioned the use of the building, 
provided that certain works were carried out to add temporarily to its 
stability. This was done, and the congregation was permitted to 
assemble in its Synagogue on the Festivals. 

The opinion of eminent architects who were consulted was that the 
defects arose from the roof having been improperly constructed, and 
supported upon walls of an insufficient thickness to resist the thrust of 
such a roof. The mealis they recommended for remedying these 
defects and ensuring the permanent safety of the erection were the 
removal of the roof and substitution of a lighter one, and the complete 
rebuilding of the North and South walls. The architect of the Syna- 
gogue, however, preferred the plans he had himself prepared with the 
aid of surveyors whom he had consulted. He promised that the Syna- 
gogue services would not be interrupted, and the Committee agreed that 
he should carry out the work in his own way, connecting the two 
defective walls by iron tie-rods of an ornamental character, and 
strengthening them outside by building buttresses on to them. Much 
time had been lost during these negotiations, and it was not till Pass- 
over that the alterations were completed. It had been found impossible 
to hold services in the Synagogue itself during the progress of the work, 


and they were held in the Committee room, and in forwarding him on 
July 3, 1870, the contribution of .100 which the congregation had 
promised towards the cost, the Committee intimated to him that in 
consequence of his delaying the performance of the works connected 
with the repairs for seven weeks a considerable" loss had beea incurred 
by the congregation, and he was asked whether ; he did not feel himself 
morally bound to compensate the Synagogue for this. History re- 
cordeth not the architect's reply ; certainly the Synagogue accounts con- 
tain no entry of any payment by him. Whether the ivy in the 
Minister's garden destroyed by ! his workmen was replaced by him as 
demanded history also telleth not.* 

But the troubles in connection with the building were byio means 
ended. On November 24 an explosion occurred at a house adjacent to 
the school, the site of which now forms part of the enlarged school, and 
which was then occupied by Messrs. Pain, the firework manufacturers. 
The explosion was more alarming than dangerous, although, of course, 
it caused great excitement at the time, especially amongst the children 
in their classrooms. Certain damage was done to the Synagogue and 
school, which was covered by insurance, and again the Synagogue was 
closed whilst the repairs were being effected. 

Nor was this all. There had been continual complaints regarding 
the lack of a drainage system in the Minister's house, and there had 
been much sickness amongst its inmates in consequence of this. Mr. 
Singer was therefore allowed to reside away from Synagogue House, 
and received an annual sum in commutation of rent. A tenant was 
found for the house vacated by Mr. Singer, but there was never any 
improvement in the condition of the drainage : the house remained 
damp, the garden was a swamp, and all attempts to remedy the defects 
failed, until finally the house was demolished and a new one erected on 
a slightly larger site, a portion of a neighbouring garden being pur- 
chased for this purpose. 

On April 19, 1868, the scheme for the establishment of the United 
Synagogue was adopted by the members of the several Synagogues 
originally constituting it, and on July 14, 1870, the " Act for Con- 
firming a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners for the Jewish United 
Synagogue (33 & 34 Viet., Ch. cxvi.) received the Royal Assent and 
became part of the law of the land. On November 27, in the same 
year, the Borough Synagogue opened up communication with the new 
body, and, at a general meeting on December 12, Mr. M. S. Joseph 

* It is only fair to state th it no architect now living was responsible for the 
erection of the Synagogue. 


urged in forcible terms the importance of union amongst the various 
congregations. He showed how the difficulties under which their 
members were labouring as regards burial rights would be removed by 
amalgamation, since they had no funds for the purchase of a burial 
ground. The United Synagogue, too, would derive some considerable 
advantage, for if it took over the Synagogue debt of 1,250 it would 
receive a. building worth 6,000. Mr. Moss Benjamin pointed out 
how the Borough Synagogue would gain in dignity and importance by- 
uniting with the rich and influential Synagogues. It was decided to 
approach the United Synagogue, and Messrs. Noah Davis, David 
Davis, and Barnett Meyers were requested to watch the interests of the 
Synagogue*at the Council. In the statement submitted to the United 
Synagogue, the following particulars were given : The number of seat- 
holders was 135 gentlemen and 80 ladies; there had been a steady in- 
crease of income during each of the past three years ; during 1870 this 
had been ,1,250, of which 650 was derived from congregational 
sources; the expenditure was 1,110, of which 460 was repayment 
of capital and interest to bank; .1,250 was owing to the bank, but 
this was about to be reduced by 300, the final instalment to be re- 
ceived from the school trustees. The Council of the United Synagogue 
expressed its willingness to recommend the admission of the Borough 
Synagogue as a constituent on the conditions that a tax of 30% should 
be imposed upon the seat-rentals for the general purposes of the insti- 
tution and that each member should make the customary contribution to 
the Burial Society in proportion to the rental of his seat. There was 
nothing objectionable in these financial arrangements, for they applied 
to all the constituent Synagogues. The Borough Synagogue accepted 
them on July 16, 1871, their suggestion that the taxation on 
a 20% basis having been declined by the Council. But a month later 
an extraordinary development occurred : it was discovered that the 
United Synagogue had no intention of taking over the liability of ,950 
due to the bank, as the Borough representatives stated they had assumed 
would, be done, and the whole matter was abandoned for a time. 
There was some idea of obtaining a burial ground of their own, but in 
November, 1872, the receipt of a letter from the United Synagogue 
asking for a contribution towards the cost of acquiring a cemetery at 
Willesden afforded the opportunity to treat for the rental of a portion 
of this cemetery, as well as to reopen negotiations for amalgamation. 
At a meeting on November 22, 1872, at which Mr. Lionel L. Cohen, a 


Vice- President of the United Synagogue was present, a Sub-Committee 
to negotiate for admission into the United Synagogue was appointed. 
This consisted of Messrs. M. S. Joseph and Moss Harris, the Wardens ; 
E. Graumann, Treasurer; and M. Benjamin, D. L. Jacobs, J. M. 
Harris and S. Solomon. .The matter was quickly carried through, for 
on December 15 a meeting of seatholders passed the necessary reso- 
lutions desiring to be admitted into the United Synagogue, and on 
January 26, 1873, a meeting of the privileged members of that body- 
was held under the presidency of Sir Anthony Rothschild, Bart., at 
which the formal resolutions by which admission was granted were 
carried. This was communicated by hand to a meeting of the Com- 
mittee which was being held the same day, and as the terms of admission 
were those originally offered by the United Synagogue and did not 
provide for taking over the liability to the bank, it was decided to have 
a house-to-house visitation in South London for the purpose of soli- 
citing contributions to supplement those already promised. Donations 
were obtained from other sources, also, Baron Lionel de Rothschild, 
M.P., giving ^100. On May 20 the sum of ^300 was paid off, but 
the debt was not entirely liquidated till 1876, interest to the bank 
figuring in each of the annual balance sheets in the interim, the payment 
of this having been accepted by the United Synagogue, or, at least, not 
being objected to, as part of the Synagogue's expenditure. By the 
terms of admission no fewer than fifteen gentlemen who were entitled 
to be life members of the Borough Synagogue became life members of 
the Council of the United Synagogue. Of these there is none now 

The minute book of the congregation gives only a bare outline of the 
course of the negotiations, but it is evident that many difficulties other 
than those already referred to had to be overcome. The Borough 
Synagogue was the first to seek and gain admission into the United 
Synagogue, and great care had to be exercised that no precedent was 
made to which other Synagogues might later point to the detriment, 
perhaps, of the United Synagogue. In all the negotiations Mr. Singer 
was most active, and in a letter from Mr. Lionel L. Cohen their success 
is described as due to Mr. Singer's instrumentality and as being his 
personal achievement. As a matter of interest it may be stated that 
the only other Synagogue already in existence on admission into the 
United Synagogue was the North London. 


During 1876 the Synagogue was renovated, and additional seats 
were introduced at the back, and between the Wardens' pew and the 
Ark. The reopening service was held on September 10, the Chief 
Rabbi, Dr. N. M. Adler, preaching the sermon. 

Mr. Singer left the Borough early in 1879. In framing the esti- 
mates of income and expenditure for that year the Board of Manage- 
ment had to take into consideration a variety of unfavourable circum- 
starices, among them the actual and prospective removal of a number 
of liberally contributing members. For some considerable time past 
much dissatisfaction had been expressed with the lack of efficiency 
shown by the Choir, which consisted of a contingent of schoolboys, and 
ii was deemed advisable to reorganise this. The resignation of the 
Minister afforded an opportunity to revise the arrangements with the 
Synagogue officials. The Rev. P. Ornstien added henceforth to his 
duties as Second Reader those of Secretary ; a sum of ^115 was appor- 
tioned to the Choir and Choirmaster, and ^40 was set aside for a 
preachers' fund, from which to defray the expenses of a regular rota 
of visiting preachers. The Rev. M. L. Cohen was appointed Choir- 
master on March 16, 1879. When Mr. Ornstien died in 1885, having 
spent 35 years in the service of the old and new Borough Synagogues, 
it was decided to combine in one person the offices of Reader, Preacher, 
and Secretary, and in April, 1886, the Rev. Francis L. Cohen, then 
Minister in Dublin, was elected to serve in these capacities. Some 
slight hesitation was felt in making this appointment, on the ground 
that he was a "Cohen," and therefore unable to perform certain re- 
ligious rites ; but the Delegate Chief Rabbi, whose opinion was sought 
and who himself was a " Cohen " recommended that no candidate 
otherwise eligible should be disqualified for this reason. Mr. Cohen 
retained his office till May, 1904, when he received a call to become 
Rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia. His ministry in 
the Borough was an eminently successful one, and he achieved, also, 
important work for the community in general. Being an authority on 
traditional Hebrew melody, he edited two publications of Synagogue 
music which have become standard works in use among the Synagogue 
Choirs in England and the Colonies. He did much to stimulate the 
interest of the community in the Regular and Volunteer Forces of the 
Empire, and became the first Jewish Chaplain to H.M. Forces, 
originating the annual Military Service on the Festival of Chanucah, 
the first being held in the Borough Synagogue on December 10, 1893. 

2 3 

e was also one of the founders of the Jewish Lads' Brigade, acting 

its Brigade Staff Chaplain. " 

Mr. Cohen's appointment again brought up the old question of the 
unsuitability of Synagogue House as a Minister's residence, for he 
resolutely declined to live in it. Protracted negotiations with the 
United Synagogue followed, the result of which was that the Council 
advanced the sum of ^585 for the rebuilding of the house, the recoup- 
ment of capital and payment of interest on outstanding balances being 
an annual charge on the local accounts. The Building Committee, 
however, were by no means satisfied that the house could be built for 
the estimated sum according to the plans approved of by the Board of 
Management, and the supervision of the work was therefore entrusted 
to the Board. The house was ready for occupation in the summer of 
1891, and cost about ^700, included an outlay of .100 for the pur- 
chase of a small plot of ground at the rear of the old* house, to permit 
of an enlarged edifice being put up. This was exclusive of the interior 
fittings. Towards the entire cost the Synagogue contributed ^180 
raised by a collection amongst the seatholders. 

Towards the end of 1887 the Rev. S. Levy, who had served the 
congregation since 1862, died, and it was decided that the duties of 
Reader should be performed henceforth by the Minister, with the 
assistance of the Choirmaster, the Rev. M. L. Cohen, the salaries of 
'both of these officers being slightly augmented, since it was not deemed 
advisable to burden the finances of the congregation with the stipend 
of a First Reader. 

It may be within the recollection "of many that in May, 1891, a 
Conference of Ministers was convened by the late Chief Rabbi for the 
purpose of discussing proposals for modifications in the Synagogue 
services put forward by certain London Synagogues. It may be of 
interest to mention here some of the proposals laid before the Confer- 
ence by the Board of the Borough Synagogue with the approval of its 
members. The perusal of these will probably raise a smile, but it 
will show, too, how times have changed, for no one acquainted with 
the present seatholders would, even for one moment, imagine them 
recommending such drastic alterations involving, as they do, the abro- 
gation of time-honoured practices and the infringement of Jewish 

" That the quorum (Minyan) for public worship be three males of 
full age, instead of ten. That on Friday and Festival evenings, ser- 

vices commence at the exact hour of dusk. That the Shofar be always 
sounded on the first day of New Year, whether Sabbath or week-day. 
That inasmuch as an overwhelming majority of members no longer 
recognise in any way the second days of the New Year and the Three 
Festivals as Yom Tov, the reading of the ordinary week-day service be 
permitted on these occasions. That because the ancient objection to 
instrumental music does not attach to modern keyed instruments, and 
for various other reasons set forth, the use of the Organ be permitted 
in Synagogue on any occasion." Needless to say, the late Chief Rabbi 
did not sanction these " modifications " in the Ritual. 

In 1890 a scheme of assessed offerings such as was in force in a few 
constituent Synagogues was authorised at the Borough, and has served 
the purpose of substituting a fixed, in place of a fluctuating 'source of 
income by distributing the support of the communal burden with more 
proportional equality than formerly. 

Henceforth there is but little of importance to record. Indeed, it 
may be doubted whether any of the constituent Synagogues of the 
United Synagogue have any history worth the name when once the 
pangs attending their birth have passed away. Each is but a unit in 
the communal organisation of the Metropolis, and the doings of any 
one of them affect but little the history of Anglo- Jewry, however great 
the local interest and excitement they arouse. Of such events the 
Borough Synagogue had many. In 1898, when Mr. John A. Cohen 
removed from South London, he was presented with an address on 
vellum setting forth the appreciation of the congregation for his untiring 
efforts on its behalf during the long period he had been one of its 
honorary officers. Mr. Cohen was Financial Representative from 
1875 to 1877, a Warden from 1878 to 1898, a member of the Board of 
Management from 1873 to 1902, and of the Council of the United 
Synagogue from 1875 to 1898, and the Synagogue's Representative 
at the Board of Deputies from 1883 to 1916. Mrs. Cohen continued 
to visit the schools regularly and to decorate personally the congre- 
gational Succah as she had formerly alone, and her husband still sends 
every year a floral token for this purpose in memory of her. Similar 
presentations were made in 1908 to Mr. D. Barnard and Mr. B. Lyons, 
and portraits of Messrs. M. Benjamin, J. A. Cohen, B. Lyons, and the 
Rev. M. L. Cohen were at various times subscribed for by the Board 
of Management and now hang in the Committee room. 

In 1902 the application of the Board that the Rev. M. L. Cohen 
should receive the status of an accredited official of the United Syna- 


gogue was passed by t'he Council, having been rejected on more than 
one occasion previously. The Executive Committee had recommended 
that the request be not complied with, but the Council recorded its 
opinion that " the request was fair and reasonable and ought to be 
gi anted," and referred the question back to the Executive Committee, 
which then recommended that the application be agreed to. But in 
1908, after the lamented death of the Rev. M. L. Cohen, the Council 
refused to grant this status to his successor, and the plan was perforce 
reverted to of engaging a Reader who was not expected to devote the 
whole of his time to the service of the United Synagogue and the Com- 
munity, because it was recognised that the "grant " made to him for 
carrying out the duties of Reader is inadequate as a living wage. In 
consequence of this .policy, changes in the office of Reader occur with 
greater frequency than is desirable, the Rev. M. Einfeld having been 
elected in 1908, Rev. S. Anekstien in 1909, and the present incumbent, 
Rev. E. Frank, in 1912. It is but fair to state that the latter has gone 
beyond the terms of his agreement, and takes his share in the work of 
the United Synagogue together with its other Readers. 

In 1903, the electric light was installed in the Synagogue, the entire 
cost being defrayed by the seatholders, past and present. This, to- 
gether with the purchase of various Synagogue appurtenances, amounted 
to ^200. 

In 1905, the Rev. M. Rosenbaum was elected Minister in succession 
to the Rev. F. L. Cohen; a Ladies' Synagogue Guild was formed, and 
in 1906, Hebrew and Religion Classes, meeting three times weekly, 
were established. An attempt to organise classes of this nature had 
been made some eighteen years previously, but had been abandoned. 
It was now believed that there was a number of children receiving no 
religious instruction of any kind, and it was for these and not for the 
pupils of the Borough Jewish Schools that these classes were intended. 
Two dozen pupils were enrolled, almost all between the ages of twelve 
and thirteen, and residing at a considerable distance from the Syna- 
gogue, but when, some two years later, these no longer attended school, 
they ceased to attend these classes also. About this time Hebrew 
Classes were being opened in the Brixton district, and as the children- 
residing in the more immediate vicinity of the Borough Synagogue 
either attended the Jewish Schools adjoining or were receiving Hebrew 
and religious instruction from private tutors, it was not deemed ad- 
visable that the classes at the Synagogue should continue with so very 


small a number of pupils as was available, and failure attended a 
vigorous attempt to re-establish the classes in 1911. 

During the High Festivals of 1905, divine service was held at 
Brixton, and the promoters approached the Borough Synagogue for 
.assistance in establishing a congregation for the residents of Brixton 
and the adjacent districts. This again raised the question which 'had 
been discussed in 1888, and even earlier, of removing the Borough 
Synagogue to a site more convenient to the majority of its seatholders, 
of whom about two-thirds then resided in Brixton and Clapham, or 
even more southwards. But most of the seatholders chiefly affected 
showed complete indifference to the matter when it was proposed for 
consideration at a general meeting, and no action could therefore be 
taken. The Brixton Congregation and Hebrew Classes were estab- 
lished, and received the support of several members of the Borough 
Synagogue, who keenly appreciated their own difficulties and those of 
their neighbours who were attached to no Synagogue. It is quite 
probable that at this time a more sympathetic view of these difficulties 
and a statesmanlike policy showing more understanding of the possi- 
bilities of the new movement might have obviated the necessity of this, 
and so altered the course of congregational history in South London. 
In April, 1908, conferences were held between representatives of the 
two Synagogues, with the view to their amalgamation, the closing of 
the Borough Synagogue, and the erection of one which, it was agreed, 
should not be Citywards of the centre of the Brixton. district. The 
proposals of the conference were agreed to by the Board of the Borough 
Synagogue, but rejected by that of the Brixton Synagogue, who stated 
that they did "not regard the time as ripe for amalgamation." At 
the request of the Brixton Synagogue conferences were again held at 
the end of 1909, and a joint meeting was also held between represen- 
tatives of the two congregations and the honorary officers of the United 
Synagogue. The latter were of opinion that the suggestion to amal- 
gamate the two congregations with the Brixton Synagogue as a branch 
of the Borough in other words, the formation of one congregation with 
two places of worship was impracticable, and requested the views of 
the Board of the Borough Synagogue as to the transfer of their Syna- 
gogue to the locality of Brixton. But during the interval of four years 
that had elapsed since 1905, a complete change had taken place. 
Many seatholders of the Borough Synagogue had joined that at 
Brixton. others had removed from South London, a considerable 


number of co-religionists had migrated from East London into the 
Walworth and Tower Bridge districts, so that now two-thirds of the 
members resided in the locality contiguous to the Synagogue, whereas 
four years previously this proportion had resided in the vicinity of 
Brixton and Clapham. The Board therefore expressed itself against 
the closing of the Synagogue, and the Brixton congregation proceeded 
upon the even tenor of its path, going "from strength to strength." 
When, in 1911, it sought the assistance of the United Synagogue in the 
erection of a place of worship as an Associate Synagogue of the Union, 
the Board of the Borough held that for various reasons this was not 
desirable, but offered no opposition to its erection as a Constituent 
Synagogue, with the same status and obligations as their own Syna- 
gogue. This was agreed to, and the Brixton Synagogue was opened 
in 1913 as a* constituent of the United Synagogue. 

In 1914 a Free Funeral Society was established, similar to those 
existing at some other Synagogues. An attempt to form one in 1901 
had proved unsuccessful. 

The local poor, of whom there are but few, are cared for by the 
South London Jewish Local Charity, which was founded in 1896 at 
the suggestion of Mr. Jacob Woolf. It makes grants of small gifts 
and loans to the deserving poor, cases requiring more generous 'treat- 
ment than the Society can afford being dealt with by the Jewish Board 
of Guardians, for which Mr. J. Bernberg, the Headmaster of the 
School, acts as honorary visitor in South London. 

The appeals of the War Charities have not fallen upon deaf ears.* 
Collections have been made for the Red Cross and for local funds, and 
a Hostel for Jewish Refugees from Belgium was opened where some 
two dozen persons were maintained for over a year until they became 
self-supporting. The members of the Synagogue have contributed 
generously to the Fund for the Relief of the Jewish Victims of the 
War in Russia, eleven sum of ^50 each having been sent to the head 
committee. A total of more than ^1,000 has been collected for these 
two specifically Jewish purposes, almost all of it by means of small 
weekly or monthly amounts. These successful efforts have been made 
possible only through regularity in calling upon the numerous sub- 
scribers during a period exceeding two years, and the self-sacrificing 
work of the honorary collectors, Messrs. B. Cohen, A. Emdon, P. A. 
Norman, H. Harris, and H. Abraham, Miss Rosenbaum, and Miss. 
Silverston, are deserving of the highest commendation. 


Our brief account of the Synagogues in "the Borough" is now 
completed. In this, its Jubilee year, the Borough New Synagogue 
has a record membership. The Jewish population is of a floating 
character, for Walworth and its surroundings is not a residential dis- 
trict, and offers no inducement to well-to-do people to settle within its 
borders. There is, it is true, a continuous stream of newcomers who 
believe that South London offers them an excellent field for a business 
venture, but disillusionment soon comes, and unless they possess suffi- 
cient capital to enable them to hold out until they are well established 
they quickly return whence they came. How great is this 'migratory 
movement may be gathered from the fact that during the past eight 
years no fewer than 244 gentlemen and 127 ladies have become seat- 
holders in the Synagogue, being more than sufficient to fill every seat, 
and yet the present membership is only 22 gentlemen and 32 ladies in 
excess of that at the beginning of this period, being 202 gentlemen and 
108 ladies, leaving only n seats vacant in each part of the Synagogue. 

The Borough Synagogue is not one of the " surplus " Synagogues ; 
indeed, if every seat were occupied at the scheduled rentals it would 
.still be a " deficit " Synagogue. But it serves a distinct and important 
function in a metropolitan district, where there are otherwise but few 
Jewish influences and agencies at work. The Southern boroughs are 
not thickly populated by our co-religionists ; they contain no streets 
where, as in the East and some parts of the North of London, the 
Jewish residents form the predominating element in number. Jewish 
solidarity, therefore, and Jewish " public opinion " do not exist to any 
great extent, and the only Jewish influences under which many families 
come are those of the Synagogue and the school. 

But with the change in the character of the Jewish population new 
needs have arisen, and it should be the duty of the Synagogue to create 
new agencies to supply these needs. The larger Jewish Friendly 
Societies have quickly appreciated the possibilities of the new con- 
ditions, and the Order " Shield of David " has a men's Lodge, with a 
branch for boys, and the Order " Achei B'rith and Shield of Abraham " 
has Lodges both for men and women, and there are signs that all these 
may become potent agencies for good apart from the Friendly Society 
section of their work. The Ministers of the Synagogue keep in close 
touch with these organisations in order to cement the bond which should 
exist, and it is hoped that a very close association between them may be 

2 9 

One striking peculiarity of communal organisation should not be 
passed over without mention, for a similar condition probably does 
not exist elsewhere in London. The two constituent Synagogues in 
South London draw the larger portion of their membership from an 
area covering about eighteen square miles, and the great distances at 
which the seatholders reside from the Synagogues make their atten- 
dances at the services on Sabbaths and Festivals almost impossible, to 
say nothing of economical reasons which make regular participation in 
public worship on these days very difficult. Parochial visiting is con- 
sequently the more essential if the tie between the Synagogue and its 
members is to be something more than a nominal one, beginning and 
ending in a monetary contribution, and if new settlers are to be attracted 
to the Synagogue. And yet a vicious policy was begun in South 
London and has been continued there alone, being exemplified only in 
the staffing of the Borough and the Brixton Synagogues, of appointing 
to each only one minister, who is expected to devote to Synagogue work 
the whole of his time, which really means such time as may remain after 
the performance of secretarial duties and the visitation of public insti- 
tutions. This is a short-sighted policy, which brings a "host of evils in 
its train, the results of which may still be noted by those who are con- 
versant with local conditions and know how to trace them to their 

A fresh migration of our co-religionists into both the business and 
residential portions of South London is now slowly proceeding, and it 
is for the community to see to it that the old system with all its attendant 
evils should not be perpetuated to the detriment of the religious welfare 
of the present and future generations of Jews in " the Borough." 

fficers of tbe 

ftreacbers : 

1867-1879 REV. S. SINGER. 
1885-1904 REV. F. L. COHEN. 

"Kea&ers : 

1862-1887 REV. S LEVY. 1908-1909 REV. M. EINFELD. 

1862-1885 REV. P. ORNSTIEN. 1909-1912 REV. S. ANEKSTIEN. 
1888-1907 REV. M. L. COHEN. 1912 REV. E. FRANK. 

fficers of tbe iprospect place Spnaaocjue 


TKHar&ens : 








treasurer : 


Officers of tbe Borougb Iftew Spnacjoaue, ibe^oate Street 

TiUarDens : 

1867 j 
1869-1870 [ 
1875-1878 \ 














1912 . 

















{Treasurers ano financial "{Representatives ;'* 

A. COHEN, ESQ. 1881-1889 S. WEINGOTT, ESQ. 

i 1889-1891 D. DAVIS, ESQ. 

1896-1900 B. LYONS, ESQ. 



1907-1909 M. SILVERSTON, ESQ. 
j -H. B. BARNARD, ESQ. ^(_^ j. BERNBERG, ESQ. 




* The First Financial Representative, 1873. 

Representatives at tbe Council of tbe "dniteD Synagogue : 

















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