the former

Beaconsfield Jewish Community

and United Synagogue Membership Group

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire




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congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.

Town of Beaconsfield

The Buckinghamshire market town of Beaconsfield, with a population of about 11,000, is situated about 24 miles northwest of central London, close to High Wycombe, Gerrards Cross and the Chalfonts. 

Beaconsfield was an urban district from 1894 until 1974, when it merged with parts of the rural district of Eton, to form the local government district of Beaconsfield in the county of Buckinghamshire. In 1980, the district was renamed South Bucks. On 1 April 2020 South Bucks was merged with all other local authorities in Buckinghamshire, other than Milton Keynes, to form the unitary authority of the Buckinghamshire Council.

Beaconsfield Jewish Community

The Jewish community was founded in Beaconsfield during World War II, with the establishment of an evacuee congregation, but which closed shortly following the war.

Congregation (Group) Data


Beaconsfield United Synagogue Membership Group


The Group was formed in February 1941(ii) and the first Sabbath service was held on 1 March 1941.(iii)


The first Sabbath service was held at the Girl Guides' Hall (opposite Burnham Hall), Old Town, Beaconsfield, which was the venue of all subsequent known religious services at Beaconsfield.(iv)

Date Closed:

Closed in about 1945/6(v)


Ashkenazi Orthodox


The Membership Group was linked to the United Synagogue.

The Membership Group planned religion classes, a ladies guild and youth group.


There is no evidence from Jewish Chronicle reports or the Jewish Year Book listings that the Group appointed its own minister. Rabbi M Swift, of Brixton Synagogue, London, having chaired the initial launch meeting,(viii) preached at Beaconsfield in December 1941, but is believed to have been a visitor rather than a resident.

Lay Officers:


Financial Representative
& Hon. Secretary

Joshua FraserA.M. Schottlander

Arnold Essex

Both Wardens and the Financial Representative were elected at the inaugural meeting of the Group in February 1941(ix) and the first reference to Arnold Essex also serving as Hon. Secretary was in July 1943.(x) All were still listed as holders of their respective offices in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.(xi)

Registration District (BMDs):

Buckinghamshire, since 1 July 2007.(xii) - Link to Register Office Website

Cemetery Details

See Cemeteries of the United Synagogue.

There is no Jewish cemetery in Buckinghamshire.


Rabbi in Green Jacket
The Rabbi in the Green Jacket
Memories of Jewish Buckinghamshire 1939-1945

Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Beaconsfield Jewish Community


  • Selected Press Report and Extracts relating to the Beaconsfield Gerrards Cross Jewish Communities.

  • Bibliography:

    • The Rabbi in the Green Jacket - Memories of Jewish Buckinghamshire 1939-1945 by Vivien and Deborah Samson (2015).

Notable Jewish Connections with Beaconsfield

  • Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) took the title Earl of Beaconsfield, when he was raised to the peerage in 1876. Disraeli, was born Jewish but was baptized in the Anglican Church at the age of 12, served twice as British Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria. Before entering the House of Lords, Disraeli was a MP for Buckinghamshire (1847-1876). His house, Hughenden Manor, is eight miles from Beaconsfield, being located closer to High Wycombe. 

  • Sir Edward Levy-Lawson (later the 1st Baron Burnham) (1833-1916), owner and publisher of The Daily Telegraph. Born Edward Levy of Jewish parents (Joseph Moses Levy and Esther, nee Cohen), he changed his surname to Lawson in 1875, as a requirement of his uncle’s will, in order to receive the inheritance in that will. This inheritance enabled him to purchase in 1881 the Hall Barn Estate, an historic country house and estate located in Beaconsfield, and with it the title of Lord of the Manor. He was knighted (created a Baronet, of Hall Barn in the County of Buckingham) in 1892, and raised to the peerage in 1905, as Baron Burnham, of Hall Barn in the Parish of Beaconsfield in the County of Buckingham. In 1886, he was appointed High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire. (See article on Beaconsfield & Disrict Historical Society website)

  • Suzy Peta Menkes, OBE was born in Beaconsfield in 1943. She is a British journalist and fashion critic. Fashion editor for the International Herald Tribune, editor, Vogue International, and for 25 international editions of Vogue online. She holds the Legion d'Honneur. Her decision not to attend international fashion shows on Jewish High holidays was noted in the Jewish and wider press.

  • Sir Michael Sobell (originally Sobel) (1892 –1993), a British businessman, a major philanthropist, and a prominent owner/breeder of thoroughbred racehorses, lived at "Bannatyne", Furzefield Road, Beaconsfield during the war. He was a pioneer in electronics and owned Radio & Allied Industries Ltd.


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) Jewish Chronicle report of 14 February 1941.

  • (iii) Jewish Chronicle report of March 1941.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle report of March 1941. No address was mentioned on the sole appearance of the Group in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (v) The Group's sole listing was in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6, the first published following World War II. There is no evidence from Jewish Chronicle reports of the continued existence of the Group after the war.

  • (vi) and (vii) Reserved.

  • (viii) Jewish Chronicle report of 14 February 1941.

  • (ix) Jewish Chronicle report of 14 February 1941.

  • (x) Jewish Chronicle report of 2 July 1943.

  • (xi) This was the only listing of the Group in the Jewish Year Book.

  • (xii) Previous Registration Districts:  Amersham (from 1 July 1837);  Chiltern & Beaconsfield (from 1 April 1974);  Chiltern & South Bucks (renaming) (from 1 June 1988);  Chiltern Hills (from 1 November 1998 to 1 July 2007).
    Any registers would now be held by the current register office.

List of United Synagogue Congregations (and Membership Groups)

World War II Evacuee Communities

Jewish Congregations in Buckinghamshire

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 30 April 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 11 July 2021
Latest revision or update: 8 September 2023

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