the former

Bolton Hebrew Congregation

Bolton, Greater Manchester




Page created: 18 January 2015
Latest amendment of revision: 19 January 2015

 Bolton Synagogue and its Ministers

by Hilary Thomas

(co-author with John Cowell of


The Bolton Jewish community formed a congregation in October 1903. Services for Yom Kippur were held at the Moor Lane Primitive Methodist Chapel, conducted  by Rev. M. Spiers of Manchester.  Mr. M.  Shapeero of Bolton acted as Warden. In 1904, the congregation met to discuss taking premises for use as a synagogue.  It was agreed to take rooms in Great Moor Street.  This time the High Holy Day services were conducted by Rev Simon Gampell of Manchester, who had attended yeshiva in Wolozin, Poland. He became Second Reader at the Higher Broughton Synagogue, Manchester.  The 1905, High Holy day services were  conducted  by Rev Schriberg and Mr Shaffer  both of Manchester. The Bolton Congregation continued meeting at Great Moor Street, until late 1906, when it moved to a premises at 43 Spa Road.

The congregation had no full-time minister until 1910, when Rev Louis Wolfe was appointed as Chazan, Shochet and teacher of religion.  He had previously served congregations in Ireland and Bridgend. He stayed in Bolton until 1912 and left for Reading where he stayed until 1922. He then took a post at Eastbourne where he stayed for 25 years.  After retirement he and his wife Rachel remained in the town. He died in 1966. His successor at Bolton was Rev Hirsh Abramovitz (Abrahams ), born Jaffa in 1889.  He married Fanny Altman of Grimsby in May 1913 and they settled at 27 Ivy Road, Bolton.  Hirsh served the congregation for three years, before taking up a position at the North Manchester Synagogue, followed by many years serving the Hull community.  Rev Selig Bressloff  came to Bolton in late 1916 from Preston. He served the Bolton community for about three years. His next two congregations were Dundee, followed by Derby. Selig was born in Russia in about 1877. He died in 1945 in London.

The Bolton congregation was without a minister until 1924 when Rev Samuel Joseph Michelevitz (Michaels) was appointed.  At about this time the synagogue premises moved to a large, rather run-down house at 12 Wentworth Street.   This remained the home of the congregation for some 36 years.  Rev Michelevitz started life as a credit draper before beginning his ministry in Aberdare in 1923 at a salary of 2 per week.  His move to Bolton in 1924 brought him a salary of 3 a week.  He was President of Bolton's Literary and Zionist debating society and Hon. Secretary of the local Keren Hayesod organisation as well as serving as minister, shochet and teacher.  He served the community until 1928, moving to Croydon.  There  the law caught up with him. He  was summoned to court in 1929 by Messrs Cohen and Cohen for non-payment of debts from his days as a credit draper.  He was ordered to pay 10 shillings a week to his creditors.  Sadly his wife Miriam died in childbirth that year.  He remarried soon afterwards.  He and his second wife Rachel stayed in Croydon for over 30 years. He died in 1988 and is buried at Streatham.

Rev Ezekiel Freilich succeeded Rev Michaels at Bolton.  He was born in 1900 in what was later Czechoslovakia, son of a Rabbi. He served the Bolton community from 1928 to 1933, then again from 1944 till 1950.  He and his wife Lily had four daughters, the second of whom was born in Bolton.  He served the Hartlepool community from 1933-44.  Rev Freilich died suddenly in 1950.

Rev Jacob Kahan  served as Bolton's minister from 1934 to 1937, before moving to Sunderland, then Newcastle.  In 1954, he moved to Bournemouth and in 1961 he gained his rabbinical diploma.  He served the Tottenham Hebrew Congregation until 1976.

After the untimely  death  of Rev Freilich, Bolton had  no resident Minister, although Rev Leslie Potash of Southport helped out at Bolton as did Wolfe Paster, who served as cantor for the High Holy Day services in the last years of the synagogue.  Several members including Sam Isaacson and Abe Goldman regularly conducted Shabbat services.  By the late 1950's the Wentworth Street premises became due for demolition. In November 1960 the congregation moved to an upstairs room above the Queen Street Mission on Central Street. There the diminishing community remained until closure in 1969.

Bolton Jewish Community and Congregation home page



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