Stories of New North London Synagogue

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The story and history of Europe's largest Masorti synagogue...

New North London Synagogue was born out of the desire of a group of young religious Jews to get together and form an independent community. In addition, the founders had a strong political motivation to succeed, and in so doing, to change the outwardly fundamentalist Anglo-Jewish establishment. NNLS members sought to be involved in an open and dynamic traditional Judaism. In this aim they followed the approach of Rabbi Louis Jacobs, who had been dismissed from his United Synagogue pulpit and, together with many of his congregation, had started the New London Synagogue in 1964.

The stories of NNLS in this volume include the major challenges to its own growth, and attempts to set up other like-minded synagogues. The development of the Masorti movement is intertwined with that of NNLS, and its coverage here reveals the elations and frustrations of its impact on the UK religious scene. A section is devoted to Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior NNLS rabbi for almost 40 years, and his approach to his community and beliefs.

This book will prove to be illuminating for all readers. It covers 50 years of struggles, cohesion and vibrancy, during an important period in Anglo-Jewish history. It is also a “must-read” for anyone curious as to how the Synagogue has grown to over 3,700 members in 2023 from its foundation by a handful of enthusiasts in 1974. The passion, dedication and creativity of individual NNLS members and leaders are shown to be key to this flourishing community.

In their own right, these stories illustrate the tensions and challenges of any voluntary organisation faced with balancing principles, survival and growth.

Praise for Stories of New North London Synagogue:

"A phenomenal way to understand how a community can grow and thrive. A case study in an exceptional example of start up Judaism"

"Ivor and Elaine bring not only a professional survey of NNLS's history to bear, but also their personal experience of being leaders in the community up until today."


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