the former

Dunstable Jewish Community

and Synagogue

Central Bedfordshire, Bedfordshire




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Town of Dunstable

The town of Dunstable, which lies about 30 miles to the north of central London, just to the west of Luton, has a population of about 34,000. It was a municipal borough within the county of Bedfordshire until 1974, when it was merged with adjoining localities to form the local government district of South Bedfordshire, within the administrative county of Bedfordshire. In 2009, South Bedfordshire was merged with adjoining districts to form the unitary authority of Central Bedfordshire.

Dunstable Jewish Community

Dunstable had a medieval Jewish community. The modern Jewish community was founded in the town during World War II, with the establishment of an evacuee congregation, but did not continue beyond the mid-1950s.

Congregation Data


Dunstable Synagogue (or Dunstable Hebrew Congregation)

Developed from:

Dunstable United Synagogue Membership Group


The Dunstable United Synagogue Membership Group was formed following a meeting of Jewish residents and World War II evacuees held in October 1941.(ii) This developed into the Dunstable Hebrew Congregation, established in about 1947.(iii)

Last Address:

Hall adjoining 119 High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

This had been offered to the congregation in July 1947 for its exclusive and free use for services, classes and other activities by the then new president of the congregation, Barnett Green. (iv)

Previous Addresses:

During World War II, the congregation first met in a hut until it was requisitioned by builders. For most years, festival services were held in the Town Hall or in a school hall.(v)

By September 1942, the congregation had moved to 132 Luton Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire,(vi) which according to Jewish Year Books was also the address in late 1946(vii) However, also in 1946, the congregation was using a temporary Synagogue at Watling House, 123 High Street North, which was described as "very unsuitable" and "bleak".(viii)

Date Closed:

Closed in 1955,(xi) although there appears to have been no further references to the congregation in The Jewish Chronicle after 1951.  It is probable that any former members of the Dunstable congregation were absorbed into the Luton Hebrew Congregation, only some five miles from Dunstable.


Ashkenazi Orthodox


The Membership Group was linked to the United Synagogue. Following the ending of the war-time membership group scheme, the congregation was one of only five small Membership Groups that applied for affiliation status with the United Synagogue.(xii)  The congregation became an Affiliated Synagogue of the United Synagogue in 1948.(xiii)

Minister & Readers: (To view a short profile of a minister - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. Louis Blumenthal - from 1941 until at least 1943(xvii)

Rev. Judah Hosea Rockman - from March 1946 until about December 1946(xviii)

Rev. I. Gross - from 1950 until about 1952(xix)

Lay Officers:

Unless otherwise stated, the data on the lay officers of the congregation has been extracted listings in Jewish Year Books published from1945/6.(xxii)


1946-1947 - J.L. Graham(xxiii)

1947-1955 - B. Green


1945-1946 - J.R. Graham(xxiii)I. Hershkorn

1946-1947 - A. PoddB. Green

1947-1952 - A. PoddL. Minsky

1952-1955 - L. MinskyM. Marks

Financial Representatives

1945-1946 - H. Green

1946-1947 - David Wernicke

1947-1952 - I. Hershkorn

1952-1953 - B. Alterman

1953-1955 - J. Alterman

Secretaries & Hon. Secretaries

1941-1943 - Rev. Louis Blumenthal(xvii)

1945-1947 - H. Green (Hon. Sec.)

1946 - Rev. Judah Hosea Rockman(xviii) (Sec.)

1946-1947 - David Wernicke

1947-1949 - Jack Liebster

1949-1952 - V. Miller

1952-1955 - Miss S. Greenbaum

Registration District (BMDs):

Central Bedfordshire, since 1 April 2009(xxvi) - Link to Register Office Website (not currently working)

Cemetery Details

There is no Jewish cemetery in Dunstable. Bushey Cemetery, which is less than 20 miles away, was established in 1947. The most likely cemetery used by members of the earlier membership group was Willesden Cemetery, London. See Cemeteries of the United Synagogue.


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Dunstable Jewish Community


Notable Jewish Connections with Dunstable

  • Harold Cohen JP (d.1936) Liverpool born businessman, communal leader and philanthropist had his country residence at Barwythe Hall, near Dunstable. Harold House, the main centre for Jewish communal organisations, youth activities and social events in Liverpool from the 1920s until its closure in 2009, was named in his honour and he was a major benefactor to Liverpool University. The Cohen family owned Barwythe Hall from 1931 until 1945. (History of Barwythe Hall.)


Other Jewish Institutions & Organisations in Dunstable

Educational & Theological

  • Hebrew and Religious Classes
    In 1942, weekly Hebrew classes were held at Dunstable Grammar School and other schools and following the appointment of Rev. Rockman, Hebrew classes were held at two separate venues on Sunday mornings.

Other Institutions & Organisations

  • Luton and Dunstable WIZO branch


Dunstable Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Year Book 1948)



(The Jewish Year Book 1953)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) Jewish Chronicle report of 17 October 1941.

  • (iii) First listed as such in the Jewish Year Book 1948.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle report of 18 July 1947. It was the address listed in Jewish Year Books from 1950 through 1956.

  • (v) Letter to The Jewish Chronicle of September 1947.

  • (vi) Jewish Chronicle report of 4 September 1942.

  • (vii) Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (viii) Jewish Chronicle report of 12 July 1946.

  • (ix) and (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) The United Synagogue 1870-1970 by Aubrey Newman (1976), p.221.

  • (xii) The others being Amersham, Peterborough, Welwyn Garden City and Worcester, with an average male membership of about 35.

  • (xiii) The United Synagogue 1870-1970 by Aubrey Newman (1976), p.222.

  • (xiv) and (xvi) Reserved.

  • (xvii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 17 October 1941 referred to Rev. Blumenthal as secretary, and it is assumed that he would also have served as minister of the fledgeling congregation, and a report of July 1943 placed him still in Dunstables.

  • (xviii) The Jewish Chronicle of 8 March 1946 reported that a special meeting of the congregation was recently held to welcome the Rev. Rockman. However, on 20 December 1946 the congregation was already advertising for a minister, reader and teacher (with qualifications as poultry shochet and shomer an advantage). Rev. Rockman was listed as minister and secretary of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1947 (which would have been published prior to the end of 1946).

  • (xix) Based upon the listing as minister of the congregation of Rev. B. Gross(sic) in the Jewish Year Book 1951 and Rev. I. Gross in the 1952 edition..

  • (xx) and (xxi) Reserved.

  • (xxii) Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. The Jewish Year Book 1945/6 was published in late 1945. Thereafter, the year books were published according to the Gregorian year, being published generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing in the title of the year book. For example, if an officer is listed in Jewish Year Books 1949 through 1951, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1948 and continued in office until 1951. 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.

  • (xxiii) It is unclear whether J.L. Graham and J.R. Graham are the same person. Although J.L. is listed in the Jewish Year Book 1947 (and in the letter of September 1946) as president, The Jewish Chronicle report of 12 July 1946 refers to J.R. as being elected first president of the congregation.

  • (xxiv) and (xxv) Reserved.

  • (xxvi) Previous Registration Districts:  Luton (from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1964);  Dunstable (from 1 April 1964 to 1 May 1999); Bedfordshire (from 1 May 1999 to 1 April 2009); Any registers would now be held by the current register office.

List of United Synagogue Congregations (and Membership Groups)

World War II Evacuee Communities

Dunstable Medieval Jewish Community

Jewish Congregations in Bedfordshire

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 2 May 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 31 October 2021
Page most recently amended: 10 September 2023

Research by David Shulman, assisted by Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman

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