12 December 2009

UK: East end synagogue restored

The venerable Congregation of Jacob synagogue, founded in 1903 in London's East End is one of only three still-active area congregations.

An extensive renovation of the 107-year-old building has been completed. The building has been variously called a "valuable and venerable relic of Anglo-Jewish social history" and "one of England's last intimate folk-art Eastern European Synagogues."

Founded in 1903 by Morris Koenigsberg and Abraham Schwalbe, its members were first-generation immigrants from Poland, Lithuania and Russia.

According to an article in the East London Advertiser, Orthodox Jews from such shtetlach as Stetziver, Kalisz and Vikaviskis began meeting in the front room of the Koeningsberg house on Commercial Road.

The synagogue has managed to maintain its congregation over five generations and more than 100 years, even as the major Jewish community in the East End moved to other areas of London.

In 2001, it was discovered that major repairs were needed to preserve the structure for the future.

The project was funded by the Veolia Environmental Trust, the World Monuments Fund, Jewish Heritage and Heritage of London. The Rothschild Foundation paid for a building survey, and the small congregation itself raised £30,000.

For more information, see the Congregation of Jacob site.

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