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United Synagogue

United Synagogue logo
United Synagogue

The United Synagogue is a union of British Orthodox synagogues and is the largest synagogue body in Europe. Its members fall into a category described by the Board of Deputies as Central Orthodox, which also includes the Federation of Synagogues and many congregations of similar ilk throughout the United Kingdom. Membership of Central Orthodox congregations in 2016 numbered 41,990, constituted some 52.8% of synagogue membership in the United Kingdom. However, such numbers had decreased by 24,211 members (a decline of 37%) over the preceding six years.(1) Approximatel 37.4% of British synagogues adhere to Central Orthodoxy.(2)

The spiritual leader of the United Synagogue is "the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth" (see list below).

Basic Data


The United Synagogue

Head Office:

305 Ballards Lane, North Finchley, London N12 8GB

Date Formed:



Ashkanazi Orthodox



Burial Society:

United Synagogue Burial Society 

Kashrut Authority:

Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din (KLBD)

Reg. Charity No:


United Synagogue Act
The United Synagogues Act 1870


The United Synagogue was created by a special Act of Parliament dated 14 July 1870 (the United Synagogues Act 1870), granting formal recognition to the union of the three City of London Ashkanazi synagogues (the Great Synagogue, the Hambro' Synagogue and the New Synagogue) as well as their two West End branch synagogues (the Central Synagogue and the Bayswater Synagogue). The union was forged by Chief Rabbi Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler.

The following is the definition of the objects of the United Synagogue, as stated in the Schedule to the Act:

"The objects of the Institution to be called the United Synagogue shall be the maintaining, erecting, founding, and carrying on in London and its neighbourhood, places of worship for persons of the Jewish religion, who conform to the Polish or German ritual, the providing of means of burial of persons of the Jewish religion, the relief of poor persons of the Jewish religion, the contribution with other Jewish bodies to maintenance of a Chief Rabbi and other ecclesiastical persons, and to the communal duties devolving upon metropolitan congregations and other charitable purposes in conection with the Jewish religion."


Over the years the number of congregations have grown from the initial five to more than sixty member or affiliated congregations today. For most of its history the union consisted almost exclusively of congregations in London and the home counties. However, recently, provincial congregations have joined the union, beginning with the Sheffield congregation in 2015.

Synagogues within the United Synagogue network currently may generally be described either as member synagogues (previously called constituent synagogues) or affiliated synagogues.  Previous categories included district synagogues (a half-way stage between affiliated and constituent, all of which became member synagogues in about 1976) and associated synagogues (a scheme that existed between 1902 and 1948).  The Western Marble Arch Synagogue has a special status described as an associate synagogue. 

In addition, in light of  needs during the World War II, due primarily to the evacuation of many of the inhabitants of London to outlying regions, the United Synagogue established over twenty new congregations, known as Membership Groups, primarily in the home counties and southern England. A number of these progressed to become full members of the United Synagogue.

Past and present congregations of the United Synagogue are listed below. Currently active congregations are marked with an asterisk.

Member or Constituent - active:

Member or Constituent - defunct or no longer independently active:


Affiliated - Active:

Related Institution:

Affiliated, District or Associated - defunct:

Active (former Associate), but seceded from United Synagogue:

United Synagogue Membership Groups (WWII):

Status indicated above refers to highest status achieved within the United Synagogue.

*  A congregation that is still active.

Φ  A congregation previously affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues, or into which a congregation previously affiliated to the Federaion has been merged.

±  One of the Provincial congregations to have joined the United Synagogue since 2015.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the All-UK Database associated with the United Synagogue:


Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road (Western Synagogue), (25 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Buckingham Road Cemetery, West Ham
(United Synagogue), (80 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Edmonton Cemetery
(Western Synagogue), (22 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Marlow Road Cemetery, East Ham
(United Synagogue), (116 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs)
Plashet Cemetery, Manor Park
(United Synagogue), (79 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Willesden Cemetery
(United Synagogue), (229 records*, of which 158 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs);
Miscellaneous other cemeteries (33 records with surname Isaac or Isaacs).
*A search in the database may also reveal duplicates of some of these records on the
JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Register (JOWBR).

Communal Leaders

Jewish Directory for 1874  (213 United Synagogue records).

Seatholders Lists

1885, 1899 and/or 1910 (13,442 records), in respect of the following United Synagogue congregations:
Bayswater Synagogue; Borough Synagogue; Brondesbury Synagogue; Central Synagogue; Dalston Synagogue; East London Synagogue; the Great Synagogue; the Hambro' Synagogue; Hammersmith & West Kensington Synagogue; Hampstead Synagogue; the New Synagogue; the New West End Synagogue; North London Synagogue; South Hackney Synagogue; St. John's Wood Synagogue; and Stoke Newington Synagogue.



Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the United Synagogue


on Third Party websites

  • Annual Reports filed with the Charities Commission (pdf):


Cemeteries of the United Synagogue

  • #Alderney Road Cemetery (disused), Stepney, London E1
    The first Ashkanazi cemetery in Britain following the Resettlement. Opened by the Great Synagogue in 1896, extended in 1749 and closed in 1852. The cemetery is a Grade II Listed Building (number 1117012), designated on 30 May 1974. See Historic England Listing & Description. (Also for additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Alderney Road).

  • Hoxton Cemetery (no longer exists), Hoxton Street, London N1
    Opened by the Hambro' Synagogue in 1707 and closed in 1878 (although burials had ceased some years earlier). Comprised about quater of an acre. In the mid 1960s, the human remains were transferred to West Ham Cemetery and the site redeveloped. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Hoxton).

  • #Brady Street Cemetery (disused), Whitechapel, London E1 
    Opened by the New Synagogue in 1761 and subsequently also used by Great Synagogues. Closed in 1858. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Brady Street).

  • #Hackney Cemetery, Lauriston Road (disused), London E9 7HJ
    Opened by the Hambro' Synagogue in 1788 and closed in 1866. The cemetery's lodge, gates and piers facing Lauriston Road and portion of the walling to the south of the graveyard are Grade II Listed Buildings, listed on 16 March 2021 (number 1472497) - see Historic England Listing & Description.
    (Also, for additional information, see also IAJGS Cemetery Project - Hackney).

  • #West Ham Cemetery (closed), Buckingham Road, Forest Lane, London E15 1SP
    Opened in 1856 by the New Synagogue and subsequently transferred to the Great Synagogue. Closed in 2002 "due to health and safety". (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - West Ham).

  • #Willesden Cemetery (generally full, unless plot reserved), London NW10 2JE
    Opened in 1873. Comprises 23 acres.
    The cemetery is a Grade II Registered Park and Garden and several of its structures and monuments are Grade ii listed Buildings. For details see Willesden Cemetery on JCR-UK's Jewish Listed Heritage Sites page.
    (Also, for additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Willesden United).

  • #Plashet Cemetery (closed), 361 Manor Park, High Street North, London E12 6PQ
    Opened in 1896 and now generally closed (but with occasional burials). (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Plashet).

  • #East Ham Cemetery (disused), Marlow Road, High Street South, London E6 3QG
    Opened in 1919 and now full. Comprises about 25 acres. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - East Ham).

  • #Waltham Abbey Cemetery (active), Upshire Hall, Skillet Hill (Honey Lane), Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 3QT
    Opened 1960. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Waltham Abbey).

  • #Bushey Cemetery (active), Little Bushey Lane, Bushey, Hertfordshire WD2 3TP
    Opened 1967. In May 2017, an extensive additional section was added, referred to as the Bushey New Cemetery. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Bushey).

  • Sheffield - Ecclesfield Jewish Cemetery (active), 85 Colley Rd, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S5 9GU
    The oldest section of cemetery was acquired in 1872. Cemetery became a United Synagogue Cemetery when the Sheffield Jewish Congregation joined the United Synagogue in 2016. (For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Sheffield).

  • #Eretz Hachaim Cemetery, near Beit Shemesh, Israel (active)
    The United Synagogue has an arrangement whereby members may be buried in Israel through the purchase of a plot in the United Synagogue section of this cemetery.(For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Beit Shemesh, Israel).

# As regards these cemeteries (marked with the hash sign), the United Synagogue "Find a Grave" search facility at https://www.theus.org.uk/gravesearch enables one to search for a grave. The search result will generally include the date of burial, the position of the grave and a photograph of the gravestone, if available. The search facility also includes the non-United Synagogue cemeteries of Aldershot, Bancroft Road and Dover.


Chief Rabbis of the United Kingdom(3)

(To view a short profile of a chief rabbi - hold the curser over his name.)

* Rabbis of the Great Synagogue, who effectively performed the function of Chief Rabbis, although not formally appointed as Chief Rabbis.

** Appointed as Chief Rabbi by the Hambro' and New Synagogues, but stood down in 1780 confirming the primacy of Rabbi Schiff.

*** Rabbi of the New Synagogue, who acted as Chief Rabbi during the interregnum between the death of Rabbi Schiff and the appointment of Rabbi Herschell.


Synagogal Organisation in the United Kingdom

London Jewish Community home page


Notes & Sources ( 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. ibid.

  3. Except where otherwise stated, the biographical information (© David Shulman) has been extracted from a number of publications, including the Jewish Enclyclpedia, c.1906, the History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth, 1950, Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972, and British Chief Rabbis 1664-2006 by Derek Taylor, 2007, which latter publication includes a separate chapter on each chief rabbi.

Page created: 27 June 2017
Page most recently amended: 22 October 2023

Research and formatting by David Shulman



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