Those who have read my post on the Hammersmith Synagogue will find the Hampstead Synagogue familiar. Read on to find out why.
During the 1880s the Jewish population of Hampstead began to increase. The push to build a new Synagogue in the West Hampstead area was lead by Herbert Bentwich. On May 30th 1889, Bentwich called a meeting in West Hampstead Town Hall to discuss the establishment of a synagogue.
The United Synagogue gave a grant of £5,000. The Synagogue needed to raise a further £6,000. Through canvasing the area, the Synagogue committee managed to gain a large number of promises of people to join, and raised £8,000. The site chosen was, as it still is, Dennington Park Road, off West End Lane.
Most of the original members lived in Kilburn, St. John’s Wood, West Hampstead and Frognal.
Herbert Bentwich’s brother-in-law, Delissa Joseph, was commissioned as the architect. Delissa Joseph was also the architect of the Hammersmith Synagogue, of which he was a member. It opened in 1890. The designs were identical, except that Hammersmith had a central bimah, whereas Hampstead had its bimah at the front of the Synagogue. In 1896, Hammersmith Synagogue moved its bimah to the front, although it was moved to the centre in modern times.
The original design only had seating around the side, with a large area in the middle which was left empty. Due to the large membership that the Synagogue attracted, additional seating was added in the centre, and extensions enabled more seating to be added, particularly in the Ladies’ Gallery.
And so, here we are, ten years in – come and join me and we will read the Hampstead synagogue Annual Report for 1901-1902. My copy appears to be a printers proof – you will notice the many corrections.
Hampstead Synagogue was one of the most anglicised of London Synagogues. It had families who were middle-class and relatively well off and they were charitable. Here is the complete lost of donors, included at the back of the report, to the Board of Guardians, the ancestor of Jewish Care: