the former

Ayr Hebrew Congregation

& Jewish Community

Ayr, South Ayrshire, Scotland




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Town of Ayr

The town of Ayr, with a population of about 60,000, is situated on the Firth of Clyde in south west Scotland. Although traditionally the county town of Ayrshire, since 1996 it has formed part of South Ayrshire, a unitary council region. From 1975 to 1996, the area covered by South Ayrshire was known as Kyle and Carrick, and was a district within the now defunct Strathclyde Region.

Ayr Jewish Community

There were Jewish families in Ayr from at least the early 1850s and a small but vibrant Jewish community had been formally established in the beginning of the twentieth century. The Ayrshire coast also had a number of kosher boarding houses, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, catering principally for members of the Glasgow Jewish community, including the Invercloy Hotel in Ayr, reputedly Scotland's only kosher hotel. The Jewish reached its highest point during World War II, due in part to the influx of evacuees from Glasgow and elsewhere. Numbers began to decline following the war and the Intercloy closed, with the synagogue, in the 1970s (see below). There was also a war-time hostel for Jewish evacuee and refugee children at Birkenward in Skelmorlie, north Ayrshire from at least 1940.

Congregation Data(i)


Ayr Hebrew Congregation

Last Known Address:

Invercloy Hotel, 56 (later 52) Racecourse Road, Ayr (from late 1950s to at least 1969)(ii)

The hotel had been bought by the community after the war and hosted the synagogue and community hall as well as a tenant (presumably running the hotel).

Previous Addresses:

45 Kyle Street, Ayr (from at least 1909 until about 1916)(iii)

184 High Street, Ayr (from 1916 to early 1920s)(iv)

Temporary premises - Liberal Club Chambers, 69 Sandgate, Ayr (early 1920s until 1926)(v)

40 High Street, Ayr (from 1926), donated by Harris Freeman(vi)

Westfield House (to 1933)(vi)

Liberal Club Chambers (from 1933)(vi)

54a Sandgate, Ayr (from 1941 until late 1950s)(vii) During World War II, overflow for festivals services took place in the Masonic Halls, as the membership was in excess of the seating capacity of the synagogue.

Date Founded:



Closed. The congregation became defunct in the mid 1970s(ix).

The Jewish Chronicle
of 11 October 1974 (page 31) had the following notice:


Established nearly 40 years. Excellently situated in own grounds near beach, and containing the local synagogue. Applications, invited from suitable persons with capital for necessary expenditure, should be addressed to: The Chairman, C. Freeman, 59 Auchendoon Crescent, Ayr."


Ashkenazi Orthodox


None, but the congregation would have been under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

Rival Congregations:

In 1942, as a result of the influx of evacuees, primarily from Glasgow, during World War II, Ayr was able to support for a short while rival minyanim meeting in the Intercloy Hotel and the Hotel Laurelle.(xii)

Ministers and Readers: (To view a short profile of a minister or reader whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. Abraham Dove - the congregation's first minister, July 1904 until 1905(xiii)

Rev. Abraham Isaac Edlin - minister in 1905(xiv)

Rev. David Lewis Halpern - minister from about 1909 until about 1911(xv)

Rev. Joshua Bach - possibly minister briefly in early 1911(xvi)

Rev. Leib Aisak Falk - minister from 1911 until about 1912(xvii)

Rev. Isaac Katz - minister in 1912(xviii)

Rev. David Hoppenstein - minister from 1912 until 1914(xix)

Rev. J. Chazan - minister from 1914 until about 1915(xx)

Rabbi Mordecai (Marcus) Katz - hon. minister from about 1921 until 1924(xxi)

Rev. Hyman Davies - minister from about 1936 until about 1948(xxii)

Rev. David Louis Landy - minister between 1948 and 1950(xxiii)

Rev. Samuel Knopp - minister from at least 1953 until 1955(xxiv)

C. Steen - reader from about 1956 until about 1960(xxv)

Lay Officers:

The following data on lay officers has been extracted from Jewish Year Books, the congregation being first listed in 1910.(xxx)


1910-1911 - S. Jackson

1911-1915 - David Zive

1915-1916 - H. Freeman

1916-1918 - E. Zive

1918-1919 - A. Alexander

1919-1923 - E. Zive

1923-1924 - E.T. Naftalin

1924-1929 - E. Zive

1929-1945 - no data

1945-1949 - H. Freeman


1946-1949 - B. Wober

1949-1956 - C. Freeman


1910-1914 - S. Jackson

1915-1916 - S. Freedman

1916-1919 - E. Zive

1919-1923 - E.T. Naftalin

1923-1929 - M. Roch

1929-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - Edward Cohen

1946-1950 - M.A. Green

1950-1956 - A. Steen


1949-1950 - J.K. HarrisE.T. Naftalin

1949-1956 - C. FreemanFrank Terret

Hon. Secretaries

1910-1915 - David Zive

1915-1921 - S. Freedman

1921-1929 - M. Zive

1929-1939 - no data

1939-1940 - M. Gold

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - Cecil Freeman

1946-1947 - Frank Terret

1947-1948 - S. Ansell

1948-1953 - T.N. Tolley

1953-1956 - E. Blint

1956-1960 - Frank Terret

1960-1962 - W. Golombok

1962-1965 - Frank Terret

1965-1966 - Mrs. T.N. Tolley

1966-1969 - T.N. Tolley

1969 to closure - I. Faith

Cemetery Information:

There is no Jewish cemetery in Ayr.


Bibliography, Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Ayr Jewish Community


  • Bibliography:

    • "Jews of Ayrshire" by Harvey Kaplan (Shemot August 2017, Vol 25, 2, pp. 5-10).

    • Caledonian Jews - A Study of Seven Small Communities in Scotland by Nathan Abrams (2009).

    • other Scottish bibliography.

on Third Party websites 

Notable Former Jewish Residents of Ayr

  • Noam Dar (born 1993 in Israel), known as the "Israeli icon", was raised in Ayr and lived there until 2015. He is a British champion wrestler and the first Israeli-born professional wrestler to feature in WWE (the American-based World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.).

  • Harold Levy, author of Hebrew for All, and acknowledged as a leading expert in the teaching of Hebrew in Britain, was born in Ayr in 1909. He was Inspector of Hebrew classes in London and the provinces for the Central Council of Jewish Religious Education.

  • Oscar Slater (1872-1948), the German-born Jew, the victim of a infamous case of miscarriage of justice in Scotland, who was wrongly convicted of murder and initially sentenced to death and freed after 19 years of hard labour, settled in Ayr after his eventual release. (See "The case of Oscar Slater".)


Other Ayr Jewish Institutions

  • Ayr Zionist Society (founded 1904)(xl)

  • Ladies Zionist Society (founded 1904 in near-by Newton-on-Ayr)(xli)

  • Ayr Mogen Dovid Society (founded 1913)(xlii)

  • Jewish National Fund Commission, Ayr Branch (founded 1938)(xliii)

  • Ayr Jewish Debating Society (founded 1939)(xliv)

  • Jewish Discussion Group (founded by 1946)(xlv)

  • Ladies Guild (founded by 1949)(xlvi)


Ayr Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Year Book 1945/46)



(The Jewish Year Book 1948)



(The Jewish Year Book 1955)



(The Jewish Year Book 1967)


Notes and Sources:
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Two sources used widely for compiling this data are Caledonian Jews - A Study of Seven Small Communities in Scotland (2009) by Nathan Abrams ("Caledonian Jews") and Harvey Kaplan's article "Jews of Ayrshire" (Shemot, 2017) ("Kaplan's article").

  • (ii) This was the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1957 through 1969, although the road number changed from 56 to 52 in 1961 and the name of the hotel  was not given after 1959.

  • (iii) Jewish Year Books 1910 (the first listing of the congregation) through 1923, although it was initially listed as "Kyrle" Street.

  • (iv) Both Kaplan's article p.5 state that the synagogue was situated at this address, sometime after being at 45 Kyle Street and Caledonian Jews p.45 refers to the move to this address by 1916.

  • (v) Although listed in Jewish Year Books 1924 through 1929, it appears to have moved from this address earlier.

  • (vi) Caledonian Jews p.48 refers to the move of the synagogue and classrooms to more suitable premises at 40 The High Street premises. However on p.50 it states that in 1933 services, which "had previously been held in Westfield House ...moved back to the Liberal Club.

  • (vii) The new synagogue in Sandgate was consecrated in 1941 (Caledonian Jews p.56). It was the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and from 1947 through 1956.

  • (viii) Based upon a statement in the Jewish Year Book 1955, although the congregation was not listed until 1910.

  • (ix) From 1970 the congregation was listed in Jewish Year Books just with the name and address of the hon. secretary, until 1976, when it was stated that "The Community has ceased to exist".

  • (x) and (xi) Reserved.

  • (xii) Caledonian Jews, p. 57.

  • (xiii) Jewish Chronicle reports. Caledonian Jews, p. 44, refers to Rev. Dove's appointment in July 2004 and his leaving in 1905. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xiv) Also spelled Eidlin. The Jewish Chronicle of 3 October 1905 reported that he took High Holyday services in Ayr, although by a report of 26 October 1906 he was already in Dundee. Caledonian Jews p. 44 and Kaplan's article state he came to Ayr in 1905. He was not listed as minister of the congregatiion in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xv) The Jewish Chronicle reports of 12 December 1909 and 6 December 1910 place Rev. Halpern in Ayr. In 1913 He was appointed minister in Aberdeen. Caledonian Jews p. 44 refers to him conducting services in Ayr at the end of 1909. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Eidlin (Edlin). He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xvi) In February 1911, The Jewish Chronicle reported Rev. Bach's appointment as minister of the congregation. However, as Rev. Falk was elected minister two months later (see below), Rev. Bach's tenure must have been very short or he never took up the position. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xvii) The Jewish Chronicle of 21 April 1911 reported Rev. Falk's election as minister of the congregation. There were various reports in 1912 placing him in Inverness. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Halpern. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xviii) The Jewish Chronicle of 2 February 1912 reported Rev. Katz's appointment as minister and teacher of the congregation. His successor was appointed by December 1912, although Jewish Year Books continue to list him as minister from 1912 through 1915. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Falk.

  • (xix) The Jewish Chronicle reports and paper on Rev. Hoppenstein's family history. Kaplan's article lists him as the minister following Rev. Katz. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xx) Caledonian Jews, p.45. He was not listed as minister of the congregation in any Jewish Year Book nor in Kaplan's article.

  • (xxi) Caledonian Jews, p.47 and Rev. Katz's Jewish Chronicle obituary dated 11 April 1924. His wife, Millicent was the proprietor of a kosher and strictly Orthodox boarding house in Ayr He is listed as minister of the congregation only in the Jewish Year Book 1924.

  • (xxii) Jewish Chronicle reports of 22 August 1941 and 23 November 1945 place Rev. Davies in Ayr and his obituary of 8 November 1991 states that he "held posts in Birmingham and for 12 years in Ayr" before coming to Hull in 1948. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 (the were no publications during World War II) through 1949.

  • (xxiii) Based on Rev. Landy's listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1950. There are no Jewish Chronicle references to his being in Ayr and he is not mentioned in Caledonian Jews or Kaplan's article, the latter of which which states that Rev. Davies was succeeded by Rev. Knopp. The 1948 date is provided by Michael Jolles.

  • (xxiv) Jewish Chronicle reports of 8 May 1953 places Rev. Knopp in Ayr and the report of 14 January 1955, on his appointment in Dublin, refers to him as having served "for some years past" as minister and reader in Ayr. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1955 and 1956.

  • (xxv) Based upon C. Steen's listing as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1957 through 1960.

  • (xxvi) to (xxix) Reserved.

  • (xxx) Where a person is first listed in a yearbook as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant yearbook (which was generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing the title of the yearbook) and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ somewhat from those shown here. The congregation was not listed in Jewish Year Books from 1930 through 1939 and it was not published during World War II subsequent to 1940.

  • (xxxi) to (xxxix) Reserved.

  • (xl) Caledonian Jews pp. 42 and 44, quoting a report from The Jewish Chronicle of 29 January 1904.

  • (xli) Caledonian Jews p. 44.

  • (xlii) Caledonian Jews p. 45.

  • (xliii) Caledonian Jews p. 51.

  • (xliv) Caledonian Jews p. 53.

  • (xlv) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1947 through 1954.

  • (xlvi) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1950 through 1955.

Jewish Communities and Congregations in Scotland home page

Page created: 21 September 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 30 May 2021
Page most recently amended: 30 September 2022

Formatting and research by David Shulman

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