Manchester Reform Synagogue




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Manchester Reform Synagogue, Jackson Row
The former synagogue in Jackson Row, Manchester
(© Ulf Heinsohn, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Manchester Reform Synagogue ligo

Congregation Data


Manchester Reform Synagogue

Former Name:

Manchester Congregation of British Jews, until about 1968(i)


The congregation is currently using temporary premises at Manchester University's Chaplaincy on Oxford Road, Manchester, while it seeks a new permanent home.(ii)

(The congregation is considered part of the "North Manchester" Jewish community.)

Previous Addresses:

● Jackson's Row, Manchester, M2 5NH (to November 2022)

18 May 1952 - Consecration of the synagogue(iii)

29†November 1953 - Official opening of the synagogue (built with funds from the War Damage Commission)(iii)

2021 - Following approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the congregation held on 25 July 2021, the congregation agreed to sell the synagogue building (the last remaining synagogue in the centre of Manchester) for £15 million. The site is being redeveloped as part of £200 million project.(iv)

26 November 2022 - Synagogue holds final Sabbath service.(v)

27 November 2022 - Special deconsecration service, marking the closure of the synagogue after some 70 years.(v)


● Park Place, Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, M4 (from 1858)

11 March 1857 - Foundation stone laid(vii)

25 March 1858 - Consecration of site for Synagogue(viii)

1 June 1941 - Synagogue destroyed in German air-raid(ix)

June - August 1941 - Services held temporarily at Cheetham Assembly Rooms(ix)

1941 - 1948 - Services held at Room 35, Houldsworth Hall, 90 Deansgate, M3(ix)

1948 - 1953 - Services held in prefabricated building on Park Place site(ix)

Current Status:


Date Founded:

Founded in 1857, as a breakaway congregation from Manchester's Orthodox synagogue, the Halliwell Street Congregation, which effectively split into two congregations: one orthodox and the other reform. It was only the second reform congregation to be established in Britain and the first outside London.




From the outset, the congregation was associated with then only other reform congregation in Britain, the West London Synagogue of British Jews, founded sixteen years earlier, initially even adopting a similar name that included reference to "British Jews" (indicating that both congregations were inclusive of both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews).

In 1942, the congregation was a founding member of Associated British Synagogues (later known as Associated Synagogues of Great Britain), which subsequent became the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain and is now the Movement for Reform Judaism, of which it is a constituent synagogue.




(To view a short profile of a minister who also served other UK congregations - name in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rabbi Dr. Solomon Mayer Schiller-Szenessy - 1856 to 1860(xiii)

Rev. Dr. Gustav Gottheil - 1860 to 1873(xiv)

Rev. Dr. Isaac Weiner - 1873 to 1877(xv)

Rev. Laurence Mark Simmons - 1877 to 1900(xvi)

Rev. Abraham Wolf - 1901 to 1907(xvii)

Rev. Harry S. Lewis - 1908 to 1913(xviii)

Rev. Jacob Phillips - 1913 to 1940(xix)

Rabbi Percy Selvin Goldberg - 1940 to 1974(xx)

Rabbi Toviah Ben-Chorin - about 1975 to about 1977(xxi)

Rabbi Reuven Silverman - 1977 to 2022(xxii)

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Stern - initially associate rabbi from December 2018 and subsequently principal rabbi to present (December 2022)(xxiii)

Assistant Ministers & Readers :

M. Stern - assistant minister at least in and about 1874(xxvii)

Rev. Moss (Moses) Henriques Valentine - chazan (cantor) / reader from 1896 to about 1921(xxviii)

Rev. Moses Besso - assistant reader (1918-c.1924); reader (c.1924-c.1934); assistant minister (c.1934 to at least about 1940)(xxix)

Eli Levy - reader from at least 1954 to about 1959.(xxx)

Rev. Y. Shabatay - assistant minister from about 1959 to about 1960(xxxi)

Rev. S. Greenstein - assistant minister from about 1970 to about 1971(xxxii)

Rev. Samuel Rodreigues-Pereira - assistant minister from early 1970s to 1976(xxxiii)



Lists of Presidents, Treasurers and Secretaries of the Congregation, 1896 to 1950s

List of Wardens of the Congregation, 1908 to 1956

Membership Data:


1896 - 142 seatholders (xxxvii)
1903 - 160 seatholders (xxxvii)
1941 - 110 members(xxxviii)

National Reports and Surveys(xxxix)

1977 - 800 male (or household) members and 350 female members

1983 - 500 male (or household) members and 360 female members

1990 - 487 members (comprising 296 households, 93 individual male and 98 individual female members)

1996 - 767 members (comprising 530 households, 71 individual male and 168 individual female members)

2010 - listed as having 500 to 749 members (by household)

2016 - listed as having 300 to 399 members (by household)

Charitable Status:

The congregation, under the name Manchester Reform Congregation, is a registered charity (no. 1118957), registered on 26 April 2007, the governing document being the congregation's constitution, adopted 6 December 1971, as amended 21 April 1998.(xl)

Local Government District:

The congregation is situated in the metropolitan borough of the City of Manchester, within the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester (which no longer has any administrative powers). 

From 1889 to 1974, the locality was in the county borough of Manchester (a unitary authority), geographically (though not administratively) within the County of Lancashire.


The congregation is a member synagogue of the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS), through which the congregation's members participate in a burial scheme.

The Manchester Reform Jewish Old Cemetery, Whitefield, M25 was in use by the Congregation from 1856 to 1992. The Southern Cemetery, Jewish Section, Didsbury M20 was used by the Congregation from 1892 and was subsequently also used by other congregations.

See also Manchester Jewish Cemeteries Information on Manchester Jewish Community home page.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) Based upon this being the name under which the congregation was listed in Jewish Year Books until and including 1968.

  • (ii) Jewish News 6 December 2022.

  • (iii) The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, pp.93-95 (chapter by Dr. B. Portnoy), by Rabbi P. S. Goldberg (1957).

  • (iv) The congregation's website, accessed 7 November 2022 and BBC News 27 November 2022.

  • (v) Manchester Evening News 28 November 2022.

  • (vi) Reserved.

  • (vii) The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, p.21, by Rabbi P. S. Goldberg (1957).

  • (viii) The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, p.23, by Rabbi P. S. Goldberg (1957).

  • (ix) The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, pp.89-91, by Rabbi P. S. Goldberg (1957).

  • (x) and (xi) Reserved.

  • (xii) Profiles of ministers who served the congregation during its first 100 years are based primarily upon "The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957" by Rabbi P. Selvin Goldberg (1957).

  • (xiii) Rabbi Schiller-Szenessy's profiles in Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, p.873 and The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapter II, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, (1957).

  • (xiv) Rev. Dr. Gottheil (28-May-1827 - 15-Apr-1903) was born in Pinne Posen and educated at the Universities of Berlin and Halle, being awarded a PhD.  Prior to joining the congregation in 1860, he served as third minister of the Berlin Reform Gemeinde (1855-1860). In Manchester, he adopted a far more radical approach than his predecessor, including the abolition of the observance of the second day of festivals. He subsequently moved to the United States, taking up the post of rabbi of Temple Emanuel, New York. (Profile in Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, p.362 and The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapter V, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957).

  • (xv) Rev. Dr. Weiner was from Leipzig. Very little is known about his background. His term of office at the congregation was ended as a result of his suffering from a mental disorder. (The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapter VI, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957).

  • (xvi) London-born Rev Simmons LLB, BA (1852 - 5-Apr-1900) studied at the Rabbinical Seminary at Breslau. He was the father of Rabbi Vivian George Simmons. (Profile in Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, pp.915/7 and The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapters VII & VIII, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957).

  • (xvii) Russian-born Rev. Wolf (29-May-1876 - 19-May-1948) studied at Jews College London, University College London and St John's College Cambridge. He resigned as minister of the congregation to pursue an academic career. (Profile in Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, p.1040 and The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapter IX, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957).

  • (xviii) Rev. Lewis, MA (c.1863-1940) studied at St John's College, Cambridge. Following his resignation from his position as minister of the congregation, he went to America where he became chaplain and teacher at the Jewish Institute of Religion, New York. (The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapter X, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957).

  • (xix) Rev. Phillips profile in The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957, Chapter XI, by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957.

  • (xx) Jewish Year Book listings and Rabbi Goldberg's profile in The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957 by Rabbi P.S. Goldberg, 1957 - Chapter XII contributed by Dr. B. Portnoy.

  • (xxi) Based upon Rabbi Ben-Chorin's listings as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1976 and 1977.

  • (xxii) Rabbi Silverman was first listed as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1978. He was still listed as such on the congregation's website accessed 6 February 2022,  but had retired according to the website accessed 6 November 2022.

  • (xxiii) Congregation's website, accessed 20 August 2019 and last accessed 6 November 2022. Rabbi Ashworth-Steen joined the congregation following her ordination by Leo Baeck College in July 2017. She was officially inaugurated as Associate Rabbi on the 16 December 2018.

  • (xxiv) to (xxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxvii) Jewish Directory for 1874 by Asher I. Myers. M. Stern's term of office may well have been substantially longer than shown here.

  • (xxviii) Based upon Chazan Valentine's appointment as Reader, as per Council of Founders' minutes dated 15 July 1896, at a salary of £40 per year, and his last listing as chazan or reader in Jewish Year Book 1921. (He was however only listed in Jewish Year Books 1911 and 1915 through 1921.) He also served temporarily as Secretary of the congregation from about 1908 to about 1909. 

  • (xxix) Based upon Mr. (later Rev.) Besso's listings in Jewish Year Books as assistant minister (1919 through 1924); as reader (1925 through 1934); as assistant minister (1935 and 1936) and as assistant minister and reader (1937 through 1940). (Publication of the book subsequently ceased until 1945.) Rev. Besso also seerved as Secretary of the congregation (c.1918-c.1936).

  • (xxx) Based upon Eli Levy's listings as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1955 through 1959.

  • (xxxi) Based upon Rev. Shabatay's listings as assistant minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1960.

  • (xxxii) Based upon Rev. Greenstein's listings as assistant minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1971.

  • (xxxiii) In Rabbi Rodrigues-Pereir's Obituary in Jewish Chronicle, 27 March 2009, it states that he joined the Reform Movement in 1970 and "[f]rom Manchester Reform Synagogue, he moved to Blackpool Reform Synagogue in 1976", without stating specifically whether he had starting service as minister of Manchester Reform Synagogue in 1970 or some time later. He is not listed in any Jewish Year Book as serving this congregation.

  • (xxxiv) to (xxxvi) "Reserved".

  • (xxxvii) The Jewish Year Book published in the stated year.

  • (xxxviii) Our History on Congregation's website, accessed 20†August 2019.

  • (xxxix) 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.

  • (xl) Charities Commission's website (in beta trial stage) and open charities website, both accessed 26 March 2019.


Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to this Congregation


  • The conference paper on "Manchester" from Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain includes information on this Congregation.

  • Manchester Bibliography, which includes::

    • The Manchester Congregation of British Jews 1857-1957 by Rabbi P. Selvin Goldberg (1957)

    • Manchester Jewry - A Picture History 1788-1988 by Bill Williams (1988). p. 19.

on the Congregation's website


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


Congregational Records

Registration District (BMD):

  • Manchester (since 1 April 1939) - Link to Register Office website

  • Previous Registration Districts:

    • From founding of congregation to 1 January 1925 - Manchester

    • From 1 January 1925 until 1 April 1939 - Manchester divided into two registration districts: Manchester North and Manchester South.

  • All records would now be held by current office.

At Manchester Register Office:

  • Marriage Registers (MRO Ref: 513/1 to 513/11):

    • Park Place - 1859-1941

    • Houldworth Hall, Deansgate - 1841-1948

    • Park Place (temp.) & Jackson's Row - 1848-1966

  • For certain data, including ancillary notes, extracted from the registers and provided to JCR-UK, see the Manchester Congregation of British Jews Marriage Register Data.

Greater Manchester Jewish Community home page
(including list of Jewish congregations in Greater Manchester)

List of Reform Judaism Congregations

Jewish Congregations in the City of Manchester (metropolitan borough)

Street Directory of Jewish Congregations in Greater Manchester

List of Member Synagogues of the Jewish Joint Burial Society

List of Synagogues destroyed by German air raids during World War II

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 1 March 2002
Data significantly expanded: 4 July 2017
Notes first added: 20 August 2019
Date page last amended: 7 December 2022

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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