Willesden Synagogue Review, Chanucah 5707, London 1946.

1946Willesden01The Willesden and Brondesbury Synagogue in London seems to have had quite a complicated origin, a near death experience and a miraculous modern rebirth.  Jews started to move into Willesden in Victorian times, but it was still countryside then, and the Willesden Jewish Cemetery opened in 1873.  With the coming of the railways, Willesden became an attractive place for Jewish families escaping from the overcrowded London East End, who still wanted to commute to their businesses or places of employment.

Several local Synagogues opened including the original Brondesbury Synagogue, Cricklewood, and the original Willesden United Synagogue.  The group of families that started the Willesden Synagogue originally affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues.  However, there were financial pressures and disappointing membership, and in 1939 the Federation and United Synagogues merged to form one large Willesden Synagogue, which then grew and grew.

The Rabbi was Elimelech (Marks) Spira, and he is very interesting – the first son of a Chassidic Rebbe to join the United Synagogue.  He was born in Tarnov, Galicia, in 1903, studied in Vienna and then at the Yeshiva Etz Chayim in London from 1923 to 1931.  He also had a BA from University College London.  In 1933 he was appointed Minister, Secretary and Headmaster of what was then known as the West Willesden Hebrew Congregation.  In 1951 he married Rachel, the youngest daughter of Rabbi Jacob Arieh Twersky, the Trisker Rebbe of London.

But we will let these extracts from the Synagogue Magazine of 1946 tell their own story:


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