JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website. It is not the official website of the organisation discussed below.

Movement for Reform Judaism


The Movement for Reform Judaism is the second largest synagogal movement in the United Kingdom (the United Synagogue being the largest). Membership of Reform congregations in 2016 (including the three unaffiliated Reform congregations listed below) constituted some 19.4% of synagogue membership in the United Kingdom.(1) 

Reform is relatively traditional in comparison with its smaller counterpart, Liberal Judaism, though it does not regard Jewish law as binding. In April 2023, the Movement for Reform Judaism together with Liberal Judaism announced their intentions to merge into one Progressive Jewish movement.

Basic Data


Movement for Reform Judaism

Former Names:

Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (1958 to 2005)

Associated Synagogues of Great Britain (until 1958), which evoved from.....

Associated British Synagogues (established in 1942)

Head Office:

The Sternberg Centre for Judaism, 80 East End Road, London N3 2SY

Date Founded:

4 January 1942


Reform Judaism


Member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism since 1945



Burial Society:

Jewish Joint Burial Board of 1 Victory Road, Wanstead E11 1UL (serving certain Reform, Masorti, Liberal and Independent Communities in England), established 1968

Legal & Charitable Status:

On 8 November 2010, 'The Movement for Reform Judaism" was incorporated as a registered company (company no: 07431950), a private company limited by guarantee without a share capital (and with an exemption from use of the word 'Limited').

It is also a registered charity (No: 7431950), registered on 12 January 2011


Although the first "Reform" congregation in Britain was founded in 1840, it took more than a century before an synagogal organisation was established for the Reform movement.

The first Reform synagogue (although it was some years befor that term was adopted), the West London Synagogue of British Jews, was founded in 1840 by 19 dissatisfied members of the Bevis Marks Synagogue (Spanish & Portuguese Jews) together with five dissatified members from the Ashkanazi Great Synagogue. These members, which included the wealthy Mocatta and Montifiore (Sephardi) and Goldsmid (Ashkanazi) families, were complaining, in particular, about the rigid regulations in the two synagogue in question. Members of these families, many of whom who lived in the West End of London, were forced to walk several miles to and from synagogue on the Sabbath due to synagogue regulation banning prayer groups in a radius of six or ten miles from the existing (City) synagogues.(2) On 15 April 1840, these families held a meeting at the Bedford Hotel in London and declared their intention to to form a prayer group for neither "German nor Portuguese" but for "British Jews". Their declaration included the following:

"We, the undersigned, regarding Public Worship as highly conducive to the interests of religion, consider it a matter of deep regret that it is not frequently attended by members of our Religious Persuasion. We are perfectly sure that this circumstance is not owing to any want of a general conviction of the fundamentsl Truths of our Religion, but we ascribe it to the distance of the existing Synagogues from the places of our Residence; to the length and imperfections of the order of service, to the inconvenient hours at which it is appointed; to the unimpressive manner in which it is performed and to the absence of religious instruction in our Synagogues."

Initially, the new congregation was essentially a breakaway Orthodox community. The new congregation had not been a deliberate premeditated breakaway but its members had been pushed into existance by the refusal of the City synagogues to countenance a West End branch congregation. However, gradually reforms were adopted deepening the ritual divide betwnn the Orthodox community and the breakaway congregation.

Other "Reform"-minded synagogues were gradually founded, in particular Manchester in 1858 and Bradford in 1872. However, these congregations were neither organised together nor had a consistent religious philosophy, to some extent the motives for succession from the main stream congregations were more political than religious. The first of these three breakaway synagogues to adopt full-fledged Reform Judaism was the West London Synagogue in about 1930.

It was not until 1942 that an umbrella organisation was established for Reform congregations in the United Kingdom, when representatives of the then six Reform synagogues met on 4 January at the Midland Hotel, Manchester and established the Associated British Synagogues, the forerunner of the Movement for Reform Judaism (for subsequent changes of name, see above).


When founded in 1942 the Movement had six constituent congregation(3). Today there are 42 affiliated congregations(4) spread throughout the United Kingdom. Listed below are all current and former Reform congregations in the United Kingdom

Greater London and Vicinity:

Congregation, affiliated to Reform Judaism Congregation:

Unaffiliated Congregations, with Reform Tradition:


Associate Communities:

 * An active congregation currently affiliated to Reform Judaism or a Reform Judaism congregation.

 * An active congregation, unaffiliated to any synagogal organisation.

 Φ A congregation previously affiliated to Liberal Judaism.

 ◊ An active congregation formerly affiliated to Reform Judaism, but now affiliated to Liberal Judaism.

(A) The six founding members in 1942 of Associated British Synagogues (which subsequently became the Movement for Reform Judaism).


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the All-UK Database associated with the Reform Movement:


West London Synagogue, Birth Register 1, 1844 - 1905 (859 records).


West London Synagogue, 1842 - April 1981 (4,432 records).
Note: to comply with UK Data Protection records 1930-1959 contain limited data and thereafter minimum data.


Balls Pond Road Cemetery, 1843 - 1941 (West London Synagogue) (900 records*);
Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery 1976 - 2006 (
West London Synagogue), (1,625 records);
Hoop Lane Cemetery, Golders Green Crematorium & Miscellaneous, 1900 - 2007 (
West London Synagogue), (12,166 records of burial*, cremation & interment of cremated remains);
*A search in the database may also reveal duplicates of some of these records on the
JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Register (JOWBR).


Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material relating to the Reform Movement

  • Annual Reports & Accounts filed with Companies House and/or the Charities Commission (pdf)(5)

  • Selective Bibliography:

    • A Beacon of Light - The History of the West London Synagogue. Philippa Bernard, Philippa, 2014

    • The Synagogues of London. Paul Lindsay, 1993 (Valentine Mitchell, London)


Cemeteries of Reform Judaism Synagogues in the Greater London Area

  • West London Reform Cemetery (Balls Pond Road Cemetery), Kingsbury Road (disused), Balls Pond Road, London N1 4AW
    In use from 1843 to 1951. A former cemetery of the West London Synagogue. It is a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 6 November 2020 (number 1465187). See Historic England Listing & Description. (See also IAJGS Cemetery Project - Balls Pond Road).

  • Hoop Lane Cemetery West (active), Hoop Lane, Golders Green, London NWII
    The Hoop Lane cemetery was acquired in 1894 by the West London Synagogue in 1894, the eastern (smaller) section of which was sold in 1896 to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation (now the S&P Sephardi Community).
    (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Hoop Lane.)
    Heritage Listings (all from 11 December 2020):

  • Edgwarebury Cemetery (active), Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware HA8 8QP
    This cemetery, opened in 1973, comprises four sections belonging, respectively, to the West London Synagogue, Liberal Judaism, Belsize Square Synagogue and the S&P Sephardi Community (formerly the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation). (See also IAJGS Cemetery Project - Edgwarebury.)

  • New Southgate Cemetery (active), Brunswick Park Road, London N11
    This was a cemetery of the Hendon Reform Synagogue and passed to the Jewish Joint Burial Society (see below) following that synagogue's 2015 merger. The cemetery is almost full and any future burial are primarily reserved plots for former members of the Hendon Reform Synagogue. (See alsolso IAJGS Cemetery Project - New Southgate)

  • Burials through the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS), which serves 30 member synagogues of the Movement for Reform Judaism, as well as a number of Masorti, Liberal and Independent congregations. The following cemeteries are used by JJBS member synagogues in or around Greater London:

    • Bulls Cross Ride Cemeteries (active), Cheshunt, Herts. EN7 5HT
      The principal cemetery of the JJBS, comprising the original Western Cemetery as well as the newer Woodland Cemetery. The Western Cemetery had originally been the cemetery of the Western (now Western Marble Arch) Synagogue, as well as the independent West End Great Synagogue. The JJBS's section of the cemetery . (See also IAJGS Cemetery Project - Cheshunt)

    • Edgwarebury Cemetery (active - see above), Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware HA8 8QP
      JJBS arranges some burials at this cemetery for certain members of Reform Synagogues, based upon pre-existing arrangements with the West London Synagogue.

    • New Southgate Cemetery (active), Brunswick Park Road, London N11 (see above)

In addition, many municipal cemeteries throughout Britain have sections
reserved for non-Orthdox Jewish burials.


References and Notes   (returns to main text)

  1. "Jewish News", Issue No. 1010, 6 July 2017, pp. 1, 4, quoting report by Board of Deputies Policy Reseach, carried out between April and September 2016.

  2. The Bevis Marks authorities had increased the restriction from four miles to six miles in 1809 - British Chief Rabbis 1664-2006 by Derek Taylor, 2007, p.210.

  3. The original six synagogues are shown marked (A) among the congregations listed on this webpage.

  4. Movement for Reform Judaism website, accessed 22 June 2017.

  5. From the websites of Companies House and the Charities Commission.

Synagogal Organisation in the United Kingdom

London Jewish Community home page

Page created: 27 June 2017
Page most recently amended: 14 September 2023

Explanation of Terms   |   About JCR-UK  |   JCR-UK home page

Contact JCR-UK Webmaster:
(Note: This is to contact JCR-UK, not the above Organisation)

JGSGB  JewishGen

Terms and Conditions, Licenses and Restrictions for the use of this website:

This website is owned by JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. All material found herein is owned by or licensed to us. You may view, download, and print material from this site only for your own personal use. You may not post material from this site on another website without our consent. You may not transmit or distribute material from this website to others. You may not use this website or information found at this site for any commercial purpose.

Copyright © 2002 - 2024 JCR-UK. All Rights Reserved