Luton United Synagogue

Luton, Bedfordshire




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Luton Synagogue
Luton Synagogue, Dunstable Road, 2018
Courtesy David Shulman

Congregation Data


Luton United Synagogue, from 12 May 2011(i)

Previous Name:

Luton & Dunstable Synagogue(ii)
Luton & Dunstable & District Synagogue(iii)
Luton Hebrew Congregation


656 Dunstable Road, Luton, LU4 8SE, close to M1 Junction 11
(first services held 5 September 2009, synagogue formally dedicated 27 June 2010)(v)

Previous Addresses:

2001 until 2009

There was no synagogue building and services usually held in a community hall, or, for specific occasions, in Luton's Town Hall Council Chambers.(vii)

1953 until 2001

116 Bury Park Road, Luton LU1 1HE (site, the former Empire Cinema, was purchase in 1949, the building was consecrated in 1953, sold November 2001).(viii)

1929 until 1953

5 Moor Path, Luton (acquired 1929, rebuilt 1936).(ix)

1924 until 1929

51 John Street, Luton  (room above a factory) - Services held on High Holy Days.(x)

Current Status:


When Founded:

23 September 1923, at a meeting in Duke Street attended by nine residents, who resolved to form a congregation. The first general meeting of the Luton Hebrew Congregation was held on 30 September 1923.(xi)


Orthodox - Ashkenazi


The Congregation became a constituent member of the United Synagogue on 12 July 2010. Previously it was affiliated to the United Synagogue solely for burial rights. (The congregation was at one time affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues for burial rights.)(xii)

The Congregation is part of the 5+1 group, consisting of six small United Synagogue communities, five in Hertfordshire and one in Bedfordshire.(xiii) The 5+1 has a intercommunal social programme intended to match those provided by large synagogues, whilst retaining the closeness of smaller communities.



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. J. Broder - minister in about 1927(xvi)

Rev. J.H. Finn - minister in about 1928(xvii)

Rev. Harry David Ritvo - minister from about 1929 until 1958(xviii)

Rev. Stanley P. Cutler - assistant minister from 1952 until 1958, acting minister 1958 to 1959(xix)

Rabbi Lipa Naftali Baum - minister from 1959 until April 1965(xx)

Rabbi Alan Plancey - minister from 1965 until 1970(xxiii)

Rabbi Michael Newman - minister from November 1972 until August 1975(xxiv)

Rev. Maurice Schwartz - reader from 1975 until at least 1989 (possibly 1995)(xxv)

Rabbi C. Menasseh - minister in about 1982/3(xxvi)

Rev. Yehiel Weiss - minister from about 1983 until 1985(xxix)

Rev. Ian Goodhardt - minister in about 1985/6(xxx)

Rabbi Yossi Schwei - minister from 1990 until present (December 2022)(xxxi)

Lay Officers:

The data below has been extracted from Jewish Year Books.(xxxv)


1927-1933 - B. Rose

1933-1939 - R. Shackman

1939-1940 - Jacques Halpern

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - Jacques Halpern

1946-1948 - A. Corton

1948-1949 - S. Brill

1949-1950 - S. Benjamin

1950-1956 - A. Corton

1956-1986 - no data

1986-1987 - C. Davis

1988-1990 - D. Zacks

1990-1995 - B. Green

1995-1996 - C. Davis

1996-1997 - L. Freeman

1997-1999 - C. Davis



1927-1933 - R. Shackman

1933-1937 - B. Rose

1937-1981 - no data

1981-1982 - L. Freeman

1982-1985 - W. Bard

1985-1986 - C. Davis

1987-1988 - W. Bard


Vice Presidents

1927-1929 - A. Cohen(xxxvi)

1929-1938 - no data

1938-1939 - J. Sarna

1939-1946 - no data

1946-1947 - H. Rubenstein

1947-1948 - H. King

1948-1955 - S. Benjamin

1955-1956 - D. Mandel

1956-1988 - no data

1988-1990 - B. Green

1990-1995 - A. Abrahams

1995-1997 - B. Green

1997-1999 - I.S. Rapstone


1927-1933 - S. Adler

1945-1946 - J. Greenbaum



1928-1929 - Rev. J.H. FinnMrs. R. Shackman

1929-1933 - Mrs. R. Shackman

1933-1950 - B. Berman

1950-1952 - S. Mandel

1952-1955 - A. Olivestone

1955-1956 - B. Berman


Secretaries & Hon. Secretaries

1927-1928 - Rev. J. BroderMrs. R. Shackman

1928-1929 - Rev. J.H. FinnMrs. R. Shackman

1929-1933 - Mrs. R. Shackman

1933-1936 - J. Sarna

1936-1939 - A. Corton

1939-1940 - B. Berman

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - B. Berman

1946-1947 - I. Nodel

1947-1950 - I. Wilner

1950-1952 - E. Hofmann

1952-1953 - E. HofmannS. Cutler

1953-1959 - S. Cutler

1959-1963 - Rabbi Lipa Naftali Baum

1963-1966 - I.A. Mann

1966-1970 - Rabbi Alan Plancey

1970-1978 - no data

1978-1981 - B. Winthrop

1983-1984 - J.H. Solomons

1984-1985 - A. Kaye

1986-1987 - A. Cline

1987-1989 - D. Bloombaum

1989-1995 - D. Bailey

1995-1996 - D. Zacks

1996-1999 - H. Podgorney

Membership Data

Congregation' website

1955 - 200(xxxvii)

Reports & Surveys(xxxviii)

1977 - 130 male (or household) members and 14 female members

1983 - 160 male (or household) members and 23 female members

1990 - 160 members (comprising 125 households and 20 male and 15 female individual members)

1996 - 132 members (households)

2010 - listed as having 100 to 199 members (by household)

2016 - listed as having 50 to 99 members (by household)

Charitable Status:

As a constituent of the United Synagogue, the congregation operates within that organisation's registered charity status (registered charity no. 242552).

Other Congregational Institutions:

The congregation had an active Hebrew and Religious Classes, established by 1929.(xlii) In June 1977, the late Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was appointed head of these classes, his first congregational post, and he also conducted his first Shabbat services in Luton as an occasional visiting rabbi.

Associated with these classes was a Parent-Teachers Association, from at least 1986 until at least 1995.(xliii)

Other institutions associated with the congregation include:

Ladies Guild, from at least 1945;(xliv)

Judean Youth Club, from at least 1945;(xlv)

Friendship Club, from at least 1978;(xlvi) and

Social Group, from at least 1986.(xlvii)


There is no Jewish cemetery in Luton. As a member of the United Synagogue, members are eligible for burial in the United Synagogue cemeteries, in particular, Bushey Jewish Cemetery.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) The History of the Luton United Synagogue on the congregation's website ("The History"), accessed 10 July 2017.

  • (ii) This was the name given for the congregation in the Board of Deputies' reports of 1990 and 1996 - footnote (xxvii).

  • (iii) This was the name given for the congregation in the Board of Deputies' reports of 1977 and 1983 - footnote (xxvii). Also, Jewish Year Books from the 1960s listed the congregation under Luton & Dunstable & District.

  • (iv) This is the name adopted on the formation of the congregation - The History. It was the name given for the congregation in the Board of Deputies' report of 2010 and in The History.

  • (v) The History, accessed 10 July 2017.

  • (vi) Reserved.

  • (vii) The History, accessed 10 July 2017. As regards this period, the Jewish Year Books (1991 through 2012) gave a PO Box number as the congregation's postal address.

  • (viii) The History, accessed 10 July 2017. Bury Park, Bury Park Road and 116 Bury Park Road are listed (consecutively) as the congregation's address in Jewish Year Books 1951 through 1990, except for 1970 , when 9 Boyce Hill Ave was listed as the address.

  • (ix) The History, accessed 10 July 2017. 5 Moor Path is listed as the congregation's address in Jewish Year Books 1930 through 1950..

  • (x) The History, accessed 10 July 2017. 51 John Street is listed as the congregation's address in Jewish Year Books 1928 and 1929.

  • (xi) The History, accessed 10 July 2017.

  • (xii) The History, accessed 10 July 2017.

  • (xiii) The congregation's website, accessed 20 December 2022. The other five congregations, all in Hertfordshire, are: Potters Bar & Brookmans Park United Synagogue; St Albans United Synagaogue; Shenley United Jewish Community; Watford and District Synagogue; and Welwyn Garden City Synagogue.

  • (xiv) and (xv) Reserved.

  • (xvi) Based upon Rev. Broder's listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1928 and a Jewish Chronicle report of 3 June 1927, which placed him in Luton.

  • (xvii) Based upon Rev. Finn's listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1929.

  • (xviii) Jewish Chronicle obituary 27 June 1958. Rev. Rivto was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1930 through 1958.

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle on 29 February 1952 reported on Rev. Cutler's appointment. and on 12 June 1959 it reported that Rev. Cutler conducted his last service at the Luton Synagogue, where he had been for seven years. Rev. Cutler was listed as assistant minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1953 through 1959.

  • (xx) Jewish Chronicle on 24 April 1959 reported on Rev. Baum's appointment and on 9 April 1965 on his farewell reception. He was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1960 through 1965.

  • (xxi) and (xxii) Reserved.

  • (xxiii) Jewish Chronicle on 19 September 1965 reported that Rabbi Alan Plancey, a 24-year old graduate of Glasgow and Gateshead yeshivot, had been appointed minister of the Luton Synagogue and on 6 February 1970 it reported on the farewell reception for Rabbi and Mrs Alan Plancey held at the Luton Synagogue Hall. He was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1966 through 1970.

  • (xxiv) Jewish Chronicle on 10 November 1972 reported that Rabbi Michael Newman had been appointed minister to the Luton Synagogue the first full-time appointment for more than two years and on 22 August 1975 it reported he had left Luton at the beginning of the month to take up a new position in Canada. He was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1973 through 1975.

  • (xxv) Jewish Chronicle on 22 August 1975 reported that Luton Synagogue is to have a new reader and headmaster - the Rev Maurice Schwartz, of Swansea and on 13 October 1989 he was still reported as reader of the congregation although his actual date of termination uncertain. He was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1976 through 1995.

  • (xxvi) Based upon Rabbi Menasseh's listing as a minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1983.

  • (xxvii) and (xxviii) Reserved.

  • (xxix) Based upon Rev. Weiss's listing as a minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1984 and 1985 and the Jewish Chronicle report of 28 June 1985 of the minister, the Rev. Y. Weiss, leaving Luton to take up a new post in Hove.

  • (xxx) Based upon Rev. (later Rabbi) Goodhardt's listing as a minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1986.

  • (xxxi) Online reserach and the congregation's website, last accessed December 2022.

  • (xxxii) to (xxxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxxv) 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. Year books were 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 1952, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1948 and continued in office until 1952. 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. From 1956 the Jewish Year Book ceased to list the congregation's lay officers (other than secretary), although from the 1980s it recommenced listing certain officers.

  • (xxxvi) A. Cohen also served as life president from about 1929 to about 1933.

  • (xxxvii) The History, accessed 10 July 2017.

  • (xxxviii) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by or on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports.

  • (xxxix) to (xli) Reserved.

  • (xlii) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1930.

  • (xliii) Listed in Jewish Year Books from 1987 through 1995.

  • (xliv) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (xlv) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (xlvi) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1979.

  • (xliv) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1987.


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to this Congregation

on third parties' websites

Luton Jewish Community home page

List of United Synagogue Congregations

Jewish Congregations in Bedfordshire

Greater London home page

Page created: 27 November 2005
Data and notes significantly expanded: 20 December 2022
Page most recently amended: 5 January 2023

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

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