Hackney and East London United Synagogue Consecrated by Chief Rabbi



A new chapter of the Hackney and East London Synagogue was opened on Sunday (16th December) as Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, along with other special guests and local dignitaries officially consecrated the new synagogue for the community.

Opened in 2010, the compact building is home to a small but vibrant community with prayer services every Shabbat and cultural events taking place throughout the year. Alongside the Chief Rabbi was the Emeritus Minister, Reverend Alan Greenbat; Reverend Naftoli Tifenbrun, who has led the community as Chazan over the past 15 years; US President Stephen Pack; Honorary Officers Louis Cohen and Nat Roos and the Hackney Financial Representative, Stephen Brook.

The consecration service included prayers and psalms along with an address by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and welcoming speeches by US President Stephen Pack and the Deputy Speaker of Hackney, Cllr Michael Desmond (a current member of the congregation). Following the service, the congregants were served light refreshments.

Financial Representative of Hackney and East London United Synagogue, Stephen Brook said;

“We were delighted to welcome Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and US President Stephen Pack to Hackney and I would also like to thank in particular the members who helped to make the morning of the consecration such a great success.”

Reverend Greenbat added;

“The Hackney community has been a loyal branch of the US for over a century. As Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler said in 1897 at the opening of the South Hackney Synagogue, “long may this continue.” 

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said;

“It was a pleasure and privilege to be present at the consecration of the new Hackney and East London Synagogue building. I have had the delight of officiating at the Synagogue on two previous occasions during my Chief Rabbinate. Sunday was an enjoyable event and an opportunity to both reflect on the extraordinary historic past of the community as well as celebrate the new premises. I am sure the community will continue to go from strength to strength and wish all involved blessing and best wishes for what promises to be a bright future.”

US President Stephen Pack;

"I was delighted to represent the United Synagogue Trustees at this dedication ceremony. The historic community is now housed in modern, comfortable premises which fits their needs today. The US was pleased to be able to help the community through this important move."


A Short History of the Hackney Jewish Community:

In 1881, the Jewish community in Hackney used a building in Darnley Road, Hackney, as a temporary shul. There were 35 children enrolled in their Hebrew classes and teachers included Rev A.L. Green and A.M Hyamson. Four years later, the building (previously used by Dalston synagogue) was purchased for £80 and consecrated by Rev D Wasserzbug. The opening ceremony was carried out by Samuel Montagu MP. In 1896, the congregation became a constituent of the United Synagogue and a year later South Hackney Synagogue was consecrated in Devonshire Road. Opened by Hon Walter Rothschild, Chairman of the Building Fund Committee, with a gold key and the consecration ceremony led by Rev Dr. Hermann Adler, the then Chief Rabbi.

The building included a large hall on the lower ground floor, which could be converted into nine classrooms, a main shul on the ground floor and a ladies gallery on the first floor. The synagogue could accommodate a congregation of 500 along with 300 children. It cost a total of £8,000. By 1910, South Hackney Synagogue had 400 children registered in their Hebrew classes. In 1935, the building was expanded after the incorporation of the Central Hackney Synagogue and from then on the synagogue became known as “The Hackney Synagogue”. During the 1990’s, the members of Rectory Square from Stepney joined the community and the name changed to “The Hackney and East London Synagogue”. 

Former ministers during the 19th century included Reverend Gatchell Isaacs, who was succeeded by Rabbi Dr. Louis Rabinowitz who went on to become the Chief Rabbi of the Hebrew Congregations in South Africa and later on, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. He was followed by the Reverend Dr. Barnett Joseph who remained in his post for over 40 years until his passing in 1973. Rev Joseph was awarded an MBE for his services to the community. During World War 2, while Rev Joseph was in the armed forces on chaplaincy duties, the community was led by Rabbi Dr A Melinek. Post 1973, the community struggled to afford a full time minister and in 1975, Mr Alan Greenbat, then director of the Victoria Community Centre in Stamford Hill and a visiting minister to the small communities went to the synagogue to address a Barmitzvah boy. From then on, Reverend Greenbat carried out ministerial duties for the congregation until his retirement. Upon his retirement, Reverend Greenbat was awarded the title of Emeritus Minister, a post which he still holds today.


JULY 2012 









On 5th September 1972 inside Munich’s Olympics Village Israeli athletes were ambushed by Palestinian terrorists. Over the course of the day 11 Israelis were murdered after botched rescue attempts by the German authorities. A German policeman also died. The Games carried on.

Some of the terrorists died during the final rescue attempt at a military airbase but the others, held in German custody, gained their freedom after a plane was subsequently hijacked and a demand for their release was agreed to.


Common decency has it that those trusted into your care are remembered when tragedy occurs. British football grounds regularly resonate to a minute silence when one of the footballing community is lost.


But not where the International Olympics Committee is concerned and where Israeli blood was spilled under its auspices. Heaven forbid they should offend certain other competing nations.

At no stage has this tragedy been properly remembered since 1972; never a minute silence at any Games in the 40 years since. The only plaques to the murdered athletes are in Munich and Israel.


Ankie Spitzer, wife of Andre, the murdered fencing coach, asked the IOC for a minute silence during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics to mark the 40th anniversary of the attack but Jacques Rogge said the atmosphere of the opening ceremony made such a silence inappropriate. The IOC will, instead, go to the military airbase where the final botched rescue bid took place. Neatly out of sight and mind of those the IOC don’t wish to offend.


Anticipating this outcome the co-chairs of the Britain and Israel Olympic Plaque Committee Martin Sugarman (Chair Hackney-Haifa Twinning Association) and councillor Linda Kelly (past speaker of Hackney) raised funds for a dignified and moving ceremony last Sunday morning at the Arthaus in Hackney.


The Conservative Party was represented by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Communities Minister Eric Picles MP, Matthew Offord MP and Councillor Brian Coleman.

Labour was solely represented by Andrew Dismore, GLA member for Barnet and Camden. The Miliband brothers were invited but one was busy and the other didn’t reply. No mainstream Liberal Democrat politicians bothered to come. Maureen Lipman, who constantly fights Israel’s corner against the many hypocrites in the acting world, came.


Sebastian Coe, London Olympics organiser, was invited. Linda Kelly read out his reply which amounted to nothing more than “Sorry. Mad busy at moment”. Shame he couldn’t have used one of his ubiquitous VIP Olympics lanes to transport him to Hackney for even the 20 minutes or so that Boris Johnson managed to appear.


War veterans were there to present wreaths in front of the plaque, which was unveiled by Boris Johnson, and to perform the Last Post and Reveille either side of the minute silence for the athletes. Efraim Zinger, the President of the Israeli Olympics Committee, noted that this is the third time London has hosted the Olympics; in 1908 Israel didn’t exist, in 1948 they were fighting for their lives and, so, they didn’t want to miss out on London 2012.


Boris Johnson spoke of the “numb disbelief” in which the world watched events unfold in Munich in 1972. He was eight at the time.


The permanent plaque is available to be visited at the Arthaus in Hackney. Meanwhile, a big thank you to Martin and Linda, an anonymous donor, the Reuben Foundation, the Muriel and Gershon Coren Charitable Foundation and to Hackney and East London Synagogue for their hospitality























 JUNE 2012


























On Sunday 3rd June, Hackney and East London Synagogue, hosted a special screening of the documentary film ‘The Six Day War 1967’ to commemorate the 45th anniversary of that event.

The film, which is from the Line of Fire series previously featured on the History Channel, was part of the synagogue’s new ‘Jewish Culture’  program and was well attended despite competing with the Jubilee celebrations.

The screening took place at the synagogue’s new premises in Triangle Road, Hackney close to  fashionable Broadway Market.

The event included talks by a former Six Day War volunteer and also a representative of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLI) followed by a lively Q and A session on various subjects including the ‘aftermath of the war’ and ‘the settlements under international law’.




                                         NEXT EVENT                                                        PASSOVER/PESACH - 22ND APRIL 2016 - FRIDAY EVENING SERVICE (FOLLOWED BY SEDER MEAL) - COMMENCING AT 6.00 PM. TO BOOK FOR THE SEDER MEAL PLEASE CONTACT THE SYNAGOGUE OFFICE

On Sunday 18th October 2015,  Hackney & East London United Synagogue held their annual Tea Party to honour the Hatan Torah & Bereshit ( Grooms of the Law).

This year, it was members Ivor Farbey and Shmuel Iger who were honoured.

Facilitated by Michael Desmond the former speaker of Hackney Council,was a special visitor ,Meg Hillier , the local MP for the area. Meg mentioned that Hackney was an exemplary borough in London where people of all faiths lived and co existed together in harmony. Nonetheless Meg also spoke about the rise in anti semitic incidents in the area and that she was meeting with local law enforcement authorities to tackle this. 

 "As a community we must focus on what Unites us and not what divides us" - Meg Hillier MP Labour Co Op Hackney South and Shoreditch

Meg was given a tour of the Synagogue and is pictured here with Revered Naftali Tiefenbrun , honorary officers and members of the Synagogue.



JEL members are cordially invited to Young US' first Friday Night Dinner in East London.  Join us for a relaxed Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by a delicious middle-eastern meal by the eminent pop-up caterers Zeitlin & Co.  Come and see what Young US has to offer JEL and East London Jews.


Friday, 30th September 2016 @ HACKNEY & EAST LONDON SYNAGOGUE

Candles: 6.28pm, Dinner: 7.15pm, Cost per person £25

To Book visit www.theus.org.uk/eastmed











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