Jewish Journal


October 8, 2012

Discover London’s Jewish WEST End



New West End Synagogue, Bayswater, London. Photo by Wikipedia/Chesdovi

Here's a bit of a cross-post from the Jewish Heritage Europe web site.

When we think about Jewish heritage attractions and history in London, it's usually the East End -- the historic immigrant neighborhood -- or Golders Green, or somewhere like that....(even the northern districts where many Haredi Jews live today).

But here’s an article that discusses a lesser known neighborhood — in the West End, near Regents Park, an area sometimes described as “Fitzrovia.” The article, a blog post by Adam Samuel, focuses on two synagogues: The Hallam Street synagogue, originally dating from 1870 and rebuilt after World War II, and the West Central Liberal Synagogue.


It concludes:

It is easy to say that the Jews have left Fitzrovia. They are certainly less numerous and conspicuous than before 1939. After the War, Jews led the post-war exodus to the suburbs. However, standing on a street corner a reasonable distance from Hallam Street after a Saturday morning service reveals rather more people walking home afterwards than one might expect. There are more Jews in this part of the West End than people think.

Jews have always played a prominent role in the many Universities, film, music, media and rag trade businesses in the area. Adding the resident population to the working one, one might find rather more Fitzrovian Jews than people think. This does not reflect itself in the stock carried by supermarkets or other suppliers. Kosher food counters are minimal in Tesco and non-existent in Sainsburys. The nearest Kosher Restaurant is in Baker Street. Jewish shopping generally involves a trip on the Northern Line! It sometimes seems like after the mass folding of Soho Synagogues after 1945 into the Dean Street Synagogue which closed in the 1990s, people are scared to proclaim a Jewish presence in Fitzrovia for fear of announcing a false dawn.

In truth, Jewish Fitzrovia is not going back to the pre-war population and that is a good thing. The grinding poverty and sweat shops were not healthy for anyone. The new Jewish Fitzrovia is middle class, generally quite comfortable, and either living, or with roots, in the suburbs. It may have consciously or otherwise adopted the view of a well-known politician’s PA who was fond of saying: “don’t look back; you’re not going there.”

Read entire article, with details on the synagogues

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