Hendon: Judaism

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'Hendon: Judaism', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976) pp. 43. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/p43 [accessed 29 February 2024]


Jews apparently arrived soon after the opening of the Underground station at Golders Green. Their numbers increased after the extension of the line to Edgware, until in 1959 it was claimed that one quarter of the population of the borough was Jewish. (fn. 1)

All the various synagogue organizations are represented in the area. The United Synagogue came first with Golders Green synagogue, (fn. 2) opened in Dunstan Road in 1922, and Hendon synagogue, opposite the Brent Bridge hotel, in 1928. (fn. 3) In Golders Green Jews had previously used St. Alban's hall, West Heath Drive, and several had been members of Brondesbury synagogue in 1914, (fn. 4) while in central Hendon worshippers had met in a private house in Alderton Crescent from 1925 and rented a near-by hall for festivals. In 1935 Hendon synagogue moved to a new building in Raleigh Close. A later constituent of the United Synagogue was Mill Hill and District Hebrew congregation, which began meeting in Sylvan Avenue in 1950, became Mill Hill District synagogue in 1960, and had erected a hall by 1969.

A new phase followed Hitler's rise to power, which resulted in a steady influx of middle-class immigrants. Not altogether satisfied with the mainstream of traditional Judaism in England, represented by the United Synagogue, some of them sought help from other organizations in setting up branches. (fn. 5) Thus with aid from the West London synagogue a Reform synagogue was founded in 1933 in a private house in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Members later hired a hall in Bridge Lane and the larger hall of the Free Church and in 1936 a permanent building in Alyth Gardens near the Jews' cemetery, the North Western Reform synagogue, was opened. (fn. 6) A more significant event, however, was the foundation of Golders Green Beth Hamedrash synagogue in the Lincoln institute, Broadwalk Lane, in 1934. Although it was aided by the Adath Ysroel synagogue in Stamford Hill, with which it continued to co-operate for a number of religious purposes, it has retained its independence in the Ridings, where it moved in 1959. The Federation of Synagogues opened a Golders Green branch in Woodstock Avenue in 1935 and moved in 1959 to another building in the same road, which was renamed Sinai synagogue in 1960. Hendon Reform synagogue was established in 1949, meeting in Egerton Gardens and from 1955 in Danescroft Gardens.

A third phase began when after the bombing of east London people moved thence into Hendon. This led to the proliferation of small orthodox synagogues, some transferred and others the result of the newcomers' initiative. Those that survived were variously reorganized. In 1974 the leading synagogue in the group was Beth Shmuel, at no. 171 Golders Green Road. Most of them were connected with one another through membership of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which in 1974 had the following constituent members: the North Western Sephardish synagogue, which met at no. 15 Russell Parade, Temple Fortune, in 1940 and moved very soon afterwards to no. 4 Highfield Avenue, Golders Green; Finchley Road synagogue, founded in 1941 and meeting by 1969 at no. 843 Finchley Road; Hendon Adath Ysroel synagogue, which held services in the Central hall, Queen's Road, in 1945, opened a community centre in Shirehall Lane in 1947, and moved to the bottom of Brent Street in 1948; Bridge Lane Beth Hamedrash, founded in 1947 and at no. 85 Bridge Lane from 1948; North Hendon Adath synagogue, founded in 1948 and moving in 1950 from Ravensfield to the N. B. Walters centre in Holders Hill Road; Beth Abraham synagogue, in Woodstock Road from 1951 until its move to the Ridgeway in 1958; and Sunny Hills Adath Ysroel synagogue, on the corner of Southfields and Watford Way from 1958.

In 1957 the North West London Talmudical college was founded at no. 861 Finchley Road and in 1968 the Tree of Life college was transferred from the east end of London to no. 85 Bridge Lane. Golders Green and its neighbourhood thus came to be second only to Stoke Newington as a centre of orthodox Judaism in London.

The transfer of power in India prompted certain old families of oriental Jews to come to Britain. Those who settled in Hendon were attached to the Baghdadi rite and retained it in their prayers at the Lincoln institute, which they took over from Golders Green Beth Hamedrash synagogue in 1959 and named Ohel David Eastern synagogue.


  • 1. V. D. Lipman, 'Rise of Jewish Suburbia', Trans. Jewish Hist. Soc. xxi. 90; Hopkins, Hendon, 72.
  • 2. V. D. Lipman, Social Hist. of Jews in Eng. 1850-1950, 176.
  • 3. Except where otherwise stated, the rest of the section is based on inf. supplied by Mr. E. M. Marmorstein, the ministers of the congregations, and Jewish Yr. Bk. (1940 and later edns.).
  • 4. Trans. Jewish Hist. Soc. xxi. 90.
  • 5. Lipman, Social Hist. of Jews, 167, 170; A. Cohen, 'Structure of Anglo-Jewry Today', Three Cents. of AngloJewish Hist. ed. V. D. Lipman, 178.
  • 6. Short Hist. of North-Western Reform Synagogue (1958).