JCR-UK

Portsmouth and Southsea Hebrew Congregation

& Jewish Community

Portsmouth, Hampshire

 

 

   


JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website covering all Jewish communities and
congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.
NOTE: We are not the official website of this congregation.  

City of Portsmouth

The city of Portsmouth, with a population of over 200,000, is an important naval port on the south coast of England, sitting almost opposite the Isle of Wight.  Most of the present day city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island.

Portsmouth, a unitary authority since 1996, lies geographically within the county of Hampshire.  From 1974 to 1996, it formed a local government district in the administrative county of Hampshire. Previously Portsmouth was a county borough in Hampshire. Portsea was a separate authority on part of the island of Portsea, to the north of the then borough (or town) of Portsmouth (now Old Portsmouth), before being integrated into the then borough of Portsmouth in 1904. Portsmouth was granted city status in 1926. Southsea is a neighbourhood of Portsmouth, that has its own town council with very limited powers.

The Jewish Community

Portsmouth is one of the oldest Jewish communities in Britain, having established its first synagogue in 1746. The cemetery, acquired in 1749, is off a road which has been known for more than 200 years as Jews' Lane.

As a major naval port, Jews were attracted to Portsmouth with the opportunity of eeking a living from the sale of goods such as old clothes, trinkets, watches and cheap jewelry to seamen and local inhabitants. It was not long before Jews were also involved in making uniforms and going on board ships docking at the ports offering all manner of merchandise. A tragic incident occurred on erev shabbat, Friday, 10 February 1758, when twelve Jewish merchants went on board HMS Lancaster to trade their wares. Hurrying back as Shabbat was approaching, a strong wind overturned their boat and, as it took some time for help to arrive, only one of the twelve survived.

In 1766, a "great split" occurred in the community resulting in the existence in the town of two rival congregations. This contunued until  unity was restored in 1789.

The Napoleonic Wars saw the heyday of the naval ports and, as a result of the hostilities between Britain and France, Portsmouth prospered in common with the others. The period was also a great one in the history of Portsmouth Jewry. Captain's of vessels were enjoined by law to appoint ships agents in the ports and one out of every five chose Jewish residents. By 1815 Portsmouth was one of the four principal Jewish centers outside London and shared this honour with Plymouth, Liverpool and Birmingham. With the end of the French wars the prosperity of Portsmouth began to diminish and the Jewish community naturally suffered in consequence and many of its members left the town.

However, the Portsmouth community for long preserved its individuality. For example, while remaining Orthodox in its ritual, Portsmouth was one of four communities which in the mid-nineteenth century had the courage to elect reform Jews to the Jewish Board of Deputies despite the ban pronounced on such action. It was also one of the earliest congregations to set up religious classes in the modern sense for children.  In 1874 Aria College, a theological college was opened in Southsea.(ii)

A principal source of information on the Portsmouth Community and Congregation is Portsmouth Jewry - 1730's to 1980's by Dr Aubrey Weinberg (1985) (Referred to as "Weinberg's History") on the Jack White website.

Congregation Data

Name:

Portsmouth and Southsea Hebrew Congregation(v)

Former Names:

Portsmouth Hebrew Congregation(vi)

and formerly, Portsea Hebrew Congregation.(vii)

Address:

The Thickett, Elm Grove, Southsea PO5 2AA, from 1936.

This redbrick and stucco building, erected around 1910, was originally a private villa called Chilcote, to which the synagogue was added at the rear and includes the Georgian aron kadesh, the bimah, the pews and other fixtures removed from the congregation's previous synagogue in Queen Street.(viii)

Formation and Former Addresses:

The actual date of founding of the earliest congregation in Portsmouth is uncertain. It has been claimed that a congregation existed in the 1730s in the vicinity of Oyster Street, although this is disputed.(xi) Elsewhere there is reference to a synagogue in Oyster Row by the early 1840s.(xii)

However, probably in 1742,(xiii) the congregation moved to White's Row (now Curzon Howe Road), off Queens Street, Portsea, and a new purpose-built synagogue was constructed there in 1780.(xiv) Following the repositioning of the main entrance to Queens Street during refurbishments of 1852, the building became generally referred to as the Queens Street synagogue.(xv) The building remained in use as the congregation's synagogue until 1936 and was, until its closure, the oldest provincial synagogue still in use. The move was, however, fortuitous, as the Queens Street building was destroyed in a German air raid during World War II.(xvi)

Current Status:

Active, although regular services no longer appear to be held.

Rival Congregations:

Daniel's Row Congregation(xix)
In 1766, a split (the 'great split') developed in the congregation, the source of which lay with a dispute regarding the Chief Rabbinate. At the time there were two rival chief rabbis, one, Rabbi David Tevele Schiff, appointed by the London's Great Synagogue and the other, Rabbi Meshullam Solomon, appointed by the Hambro' Synagogue (and supported by the New Synagogue). About half of the Portsmouth members wished to affiliate themselves to the Great Synagogue and its rabbi, and the rest to the Hambro' Synagogue and its rabbi. As a result, the latter group established a rival synagogue in Daniel's Row, Portsmouth Common. Reb Leib Aleph would appear to be one of the instigators of the split and took an active part in the new congregation, referring to it as "my synagogue". A concordat was, however, reached between the two congregations in 1771, and in 1789 unity was restored with the secessionists returning to the main congregation after a 23 year break.

Hebrew New Congregation(xx)
In about 1855, another communal dispute developed, resulting in the establishment in 1857 of a breakaway congregation, known as the Hebrew New Congregation. This met in a room of the Mitre Tavern, Kent Street, with Moses Solomon as its president and Rev. Meyer Elkin as its minister/shochet. The split was healed by 1860 and the two congregations reconciled. However, in the meantime, in 1858, the breakaway congregation had acquired from the local authority its own small burial ground in Kingston Cemetery. This was ultimately sold back to the local authority in 1879, and the remains of the two persons interred there were transferred to the Fawcett Road burial ground.

Portsmouth New Hebrew Congregation(xxi)
A third schism in the community developed from a dispute with a group of dissidents, who in July 1891 had set up their own congregation, the Portsmouth New Hebrew Congregation,(xxii) and which intensified in 1892 when the dissidents, lead by N. Hart, president, and P. Tobias, secretary, appointed their own shochet, after receiving permission from the Chief Rabbinate. The dissidents left or were expelled from the main congregation in 1893 and the dispute between the two congregations then became extremely bitter regarding burial rights and in particular, the burial of a young child of one of the dissisdents. Despite the intervention and dismay of the Chief Rabbi, legal proceedings were instituted and pursued against the dissidents, the suit being commonly referred to in both local and national press as the 'Burial Scandal at Portsmouth'. The case proceeded to trial before jury and although finding for the "old" congregation, it only awarded them a mere £2 in damages and no costs. The bitterness continued following the court hearing and even the Board of Deputies, seriously concerned with this spectacle of Jewish dirty washing being publicly exhibited, denounced both the publicity and the circumstances leading up to it, and offered their own good offices in an attempt to heal the breach, which was rejected. Eventually, in August 1897, terms of reconciliation were agreed and the split came to an end.

Aria College Synagogue(xxiii)
In 1924 a dispute erupted between the leaders of the Portsmouth synagogue and Aria College which resulted in the College setting up its own synagogue. Staff and students of Aria College had previously augmented the main congregation for many years. The dispute lasted four years during which time a complex set of rules was established to govern the relationship between the two synagogues.

Ritual:

Ashkenazi Orthodox

Affiliation:

The congregation is an unaffiliated congregation under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

Website:

Although not the congregation's official website, the following website contains information (including a history) about the congregation and includes some contact details:

http://www.jackwhite.net/portsmouth-synagogue

Ministers (from 1866): (To view a short profile of a person whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over the name.)

Rev. Isaac Phillips - from about 1866 until June 1922.(xxvii)

Rev. Henry (Hanoch) Olivestone - from 1924 until about 1926.(xxviii)

Rev. Mendel Bloch - from 1926 until 1935.(xxix)

Rev. Hyman Isidor Alexander - from about 1935 until 1937.(xxx)

Rev. Cecil M. Bloch - from 1938 until 1941.(xxxiii)

Rev. H.J. Levy - from about 1941 until 1945.(xxxiv)

Rabbi Eugene Newman - from 1945 until 1954.(xxxv)

Rabbi Maurice Hool - from 1955 until 1959.(xxxvi)

Rev. Malcolm Henry Malits - from about 1960 until 1964.(xxxix)

Rabbi David Lincoln - from about 1965 until 1967.(xl)

Rev. Jonathan D. Lorraine - from 1973 until about 1975.(xli)

Anthony Dee - from April 1976 until 1995.(xlii)

Rev. Herschel Caplan - from April 1997 until 2004 (part-time).(xlv)

Rabbi David Katanka - from 2005 until 2011.(xlvi)

Rev. Gabriel Burns - post 2011 (visiting part time minister).(xlvii)

Assistant Ministers, Readers and Other Spiritual Leaders:

Until the appointment of Rev. Phillips as the congregation's minister in about 1866, as with other small congregations, the reader of the congregation (or the sole holder of other religious office such as shochet or mohel) would frequently be described as the minister, since he often performed many of the functions of a minister. Accordingly, such early office holders are included in the list below rather than in the Ministers' section above.

Reb Leib Aleph - mohel in Portsmouth (1762 to 1807).(l)

Rev. Abraham F. Ornstein - reader/minister in mid/late 1850s.(li)

Rev. David Kaufman - from uncertain date until no later than 1860.(lii)

Rev. Lewis Harfield - reader/minister in about 1863.(liii)

Rev. Isaac Hart - reader/minister in about 1864 and 1865.(liv)

Rabbi Samuel Rapaport - shochet and assistant reader from 1863 until 1872.(lvi)

Rev. Israel Greenberg - shochet and reader in mid-1870s.(lvii)

Rev. Mark Louis Harris - reader from 1876 until no later than 1880s.(lviii)

Rev. Joseph Tuchman - second reader from c.1878 until 1893.(lxi)

Rev. Raphael Wolfish Brown (or Braun) - reader from 1893 until 1908.(lxii)

Rev. Eli Bloom - reader and shochet in 1908.(lxiii)

Rev. Hyman Levenberg - reader and shochet from 1908 until January 1921.(lxiv)

Rev. H. Filer, BA - assistant minister from about 1917 until about 1919.(lxv)

Rev. Joshua Bach - first reader from January 1921 until 1924.(lxviii)

Rev. Maurice Schwartz - chazan from 1926 until 1946 (including time as a chaplain to the forces).(lxix)

Rev. Emanuel Susman - chazan from 1949 until 1950(lxx)

Rev. Israel Cohen - chazan, shochet and teacher from 1950 to December 1967(lxxi)

Rev. J.S. Posner - chazan and teacher from about 1968 until about 1969.(lxxiv)

Rev. Michael Atkins - chazan and teacher from 1970 to 1972(lxxv)

Lay Officers of the Congregation:

Unless otherwise stated, all data on lay officers has been extracted from listings in Jewish Year Book (first published 1896/7).(lxxxi)

Presidents (if marked with *)
or Wardens (if unmarked)(lxxxii)

1896-1899 - *Cllr. Henry Edwards

1899-1901 - *Cllr. Montague Hart

1901-1902 - *Ald. A.L. Emanuel, JP

1902-1903 - *E. Zachariah

1903-1905 - S.A. Levy

1905-1906 - *S. Wineberg

1906-1908 - Montague Hart

1908-1909 - S.A. Levy

1909-1910 - *Montague Hart

1910-1912 - *S.A. Levy

1912-1915 - *N.P. Tanchan

1915-1917 - *Isidore Wineberg

1917-1918 - *S.A. Levy

1918-1919 - *A. Tanchan

1919-1921 - *N.P. Tanchan

1921-1923 - *J. Goldberg

1923-1924 - Israel Zeffert

1924-1930 - Horace Filer

1930-1932 - Naphtali Phillips

1932-1933 - I. Tanchan

1933-1934 - Horace Filer

1934-1936 - Naphtali Phillips

1936-1937 - Horace Filer

1937-1940 - J. Goldberg

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - J. GoldbergNaphtali Phillips

1946-1947 - I. Zeffert

1947-1948 - I. ZeffertNaphtali Phillips

1948-1950 - Naphtali Phillips

1950-1952 - Horace Filer

1952-1953 - W.I. Tanchan

1953-1954 - Horace Filer

1954-1956 - J. Gattenberg

Chairman

1945-1946 - Naphtali Phillips

Treasurers

1896-1897 - Emanuel Hyams

1897-1899 - Montague Hart

1899-1901 - S. Wineberg

1901-1902 - B.B. Lyons

1902-1903 - S.A. Levy

1903-1904 - S. Wineberg

1904-1905 - Montague Hart

1905-1906 - S.A. Levy

1906-1908 - H.A. Friedeberg

1908-1912 - Z. Newman

1912-1913 - Henry Edwards

1913-1919 - Israel Zeffert

1919-1921 - S. Millett

1921-1923 - J. Arnold

1923-1924 - S. Barney

1924-1927 - H. Barder

1927-1930 - M. Press

1930-1932 - I. Tanchan

1932-1933 - H. Steinberg

1933-1936 - M. Press

1936-1937 - Cllr. J. Davidson

1937-1940 - I. Press

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - H. Greenburgh

1946-1947 - I. Burkeman

1947-1950 - Horace Filer

1950-1952 - J. Gattenberg

1952-1954 - B. Levy, ACA

1954-1956 - I. Press

Secretaries and Hon. Secretaries(lxxxiii)

at least 1896-1922 - Rev. Isaac Phillips

1922-1924 - H. Edwards

1924-1927 - B.L. Langer

1927-1935 - Rev. Mendel Bloch

1935-1937 - Rev. Hyman Isidor Alexander

1937-1938 - D. Greenberg (acting)

1938-1941 - Rev. Cecil M. Bloch

1941-1945 - Rev. H.J. Levy

1945-1969 - no data

1969-1970 - Miss M. Pins

1970-1982 - C. Woodhouse, FCA

1982-1995 - no data

1995-1996 - D. Gold

1997-1999 - Mrs. Y.E. Davis

1999-2001 - Mrs. P. Etherington

2001-2003 - Mrs. P. Jurd

Membership Data:

Number of Seatholders - Board of Deputies Returns(lxxxvii)

1852

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

62

58

50

77

88

114

Number of Seatholders - as reported by Jewish Year Books(lxxxviii)

1896

1900

1904

1920

82

117

180

160

Reports & Survey(lxxxix)

1977 - 149 male (or household) members and 34 female members

1983 - 141 male (or household) members and 71 female members

1990 - 154 members (comprising 61 households, 42 individual male and 51 individual female members)

1996 - 126 members (comprising 50 households, 38 individual male and 38 individual female members)

2010 & 2016 - listed as having 50 to 99 members (by household)

 

Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Portsmouth include:

  • Marriages

    • 1840-1981 (309 records).

  • UK Jewish Communal Leaders Database - Portsmouth records:

    • Jewish Directory for 1874 (records of 21 individuals);

    • Jewish Year Book 1896/7 (records of 9 individuals); and

    • JCR-UK Listings (records of 44 individuals - as of the March 2024 update).

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database, includes also Gosport (as of the 2016 update)

    • Individuals in the "1851" database who were living in:
      Portsmouth during the 1760s (4 records), 1770s (12 records), 1780s (30 records), 1790s (34 records), 1800s (71 records), 1810s (109 records), 1820s (86 records), 1830s (115 records), 1840s (189 records), 1850s (293 records), 1860s (111  records), 1870s (65  records), 1880s (41 records), 1890s (9 records), 1900s (7 records) and 1910s (6 records); and
      Gosport during the 1790s (1 record), 1800s (1 record), 1810s (3 records), 1820s (1 record), 1840s (6 records) and 1850s (8 records).

 

Online Articles, Congregational Documents
and Other Material relating to the Portsmouth Jewish Community

on JCR-UK


on Third Party websites

 

Notable Jewish Connections (Individuals) with Portsmouth

(courtesy Steven Jaffe)

  • Lewis Aria (d.1858) was born in Hampshire and made his fortune in Jamaica. He bequeathed the funds for what became Aria College in Southsea.

  • Henry Michael Barnard (1933-2018), born in Portsmouth, played English first-class cricket for Hampshire and was a professional footballer with Portsmouth FC in the 1950s.

  • Neil Richard Gaiman (b.1960), born in Portchester, Hampshire, an author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films, was bar mitzvah at Portsmouth synagogue.

  • Robert and Ethel Mack, Portsmouth councillors, who came from Leeds to Portsmouth in 1932, were reputedly the first Jewish husband and wife to serve together on a local council. Robert was president of Portsmouth Labour Party for 26 years.

  • Katie Magnus, Lady Magnus (née Emanuel) (1844-1924), born in Portsmouth, an author and communal worker.

  • Aubrey Morris (born Aubrey Steinberg) (1926-2015) born in Portsmouth, an actor best known for his appearances in the films A Clockwork Orange and The Wicker Man.

  • Wolfe Morris (born Woolf Steinberg) (1925-1996) born in Portsmouth, elder brother of Aubrey, was a highly versatile character actor who performed in numerous films and TV productions, and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

  • Ian (Mik) Mikardo, MP (1908-1993), born in Portsmouth, was Labour MP for Reading (1950-5) and for constituencies in east London (1964-1987). As a teenager he attended Aria college Portsmouth with the intention of becoming a rabbi.

  • Jewish Mayors of Portsmouth:

    • Alex Bentley, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth in 1993/4

    • Alderman Emanuel Emanuel (father of Lady Magnus), Mayor of Portsmouth in 1893. Emanuel Gate at Victoria Park, Portsmouth, commemorates his role in acquiring the land for a "People's Park" in Portsmouth.

    • Alderman Leon Emanuel, Mayor of Portsmouth in 1900.

    • Harry Sotnick, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth in 1963/4, and his son Richard Sotnick, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth in 1978/9.

  • View here for Rabbinical and other Alumni from Aria College,

 Other Notable Jewish Connections with Portsmouth

(courtesy Steven Jaffe)

  • The city of Portsmouth is twinned with Haifa, Israel. There is a Portsmouth House in Haifa and one of its rooms is dedicated to Maisie Robins, of WIZO branch in Portsmouth, which made substantial contributions to the building.

  • In the 1960s naval ships and submarines acquired by the Israeli navy were refurbished at Portsmouth. In January 1968, one of these vessels, the Dakar submarine and her entire 69-man crew were lost en route from Portsmouth to Israel.

  • A close affinity existed between the Jewish communities of Portsmouth and Jamaica. When in the 1880s, it was decided to build a new synagogue at Kingston, Jamaica, the plans of the old Portsmouth Queen Street Synagogue were obtained, and a replica was erected at Kingston.

 

Other Portsmouth Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Aria College, founded 1874, in accordance with the will of the late Lewis Aria, 'for the training and maintenance of young men as Jewish divines on orthodox Judaical principles.'

  • Portsea Hebrew Educational classes (founded 1856 or 1862(c) 

    Number of pupils(ci):

    1896

    1898

    1900

    1903

    1904

    boys

    36

    45

    65

    54

    60

    girls

    34

    39

    51

    38

    80

    total

    70

    84

    116

    92

    140

Welfare and Communal Organisations
& Friendly Societies

  • Chevra Kadisha, probably formed shortly after acquisition of first cemetery.(civ)

  • Ladies Benevolent Society, founded in about 1770(cv), for granting medical attention and allowances during the week of mourning. etc., in early the 1900s affiliated to the Union of Jewish Women.(cvi) (See Weinberg's History - chapter Portsmouth Jewish Societies, paragraph 2 for more details.)

  • Portsmouth and Portsea Hebrew Benevolent Institution (known as the Jewish Benevolent Institution until 1834(cvii)) founded 1804,(cviii) for the weekly relief of the poor, resident in Portsmouth for at least five years. Dissolved in 1976, but its name continued for a couple of years within the Board of Guardians. (See Weinberg's History - chapter Portsmouth Jewish Societies, paragraph 3 for more details.)

  • Board of Guardians (known as the Board of Guardians and Benevolent Institution from about 1976 until about 1978), founded by 1932.(cxi)

  • Portsmouth Hebrew Mendicity Society (founded in 1859). It was founded in response to the Galantz outrages which drove 'thousands of unfortunate Israelites from the realms of despotism to seek shelter in this country').(cxii)

  • Melchett Dividend Friendly Sick Benefit Society (known as the Jewish Dividend Society until about 1951(cxiii)), founded by 1919 and dissolved in 1974.(cxiv)

  • Jewish Almshouses, built by the congregation in 1857 for providing an asylum for the resident Jewish poor of Portsmouth.(cxv)

  • Chevra Bikur Cholim, formed in 1897, to visit the sick and relieve the poor.(cxviii)

  • Charity Organisation Society, formed by 1913.(cxix)

  • Jacob Friedeberg Lodge No. 14 (Grand Order of Israel), established in 1913.(cxx)

  • The Saul Henry Lone Lodge No. 73 (the Order of Achei Brith & Shield of Abraham), established by 1924(cxxi)

  • Esther Phillips (Ladies) Lodge No. 85, established 1921.(cxxii)

  • Refugee Committee, formed by 1946,(cxxv) but probably existing from some years earlier.

  • Jewish Hospitality Committee, founded during World War II serving the needs of Jewish servicemen stationed in the area.(cxxvi)

Social & Cultural Organisations

  • Jewish Literary Society, founded in 1850.(cxxix)

  • Hebrew Amateur Dramatic Society, performing by 1865. (cxxx)

  • Anglo-Jewish Association Branch, founded 1878.(cxxxi)

  • A Jewish Young Men’s Literary & Debating Society, founded in 1878 under the chairmanship of A.L. Emanuel of Aria College.(cxxxii)

  • Portsmouth Jewish Social Quadrille, formed in 1890 but wound up in 1891.(cxxxiii)

  • Social and Literary Society, founded by 1917.(cxxxvi)

  • Hebrew Social Club, founded by 1923.(cxxxvii)

  • Study Circle, formed by 1936.(cxxxviii)

  • Jewish Truth Society, founded by 1936, to combat the rise of British Fascism.(cxxxix)

  • "5696" Fellowship Club, formed in 1935 or 1936.(cxl)

  • Portsmouth Jewish Club (known as the Portsmouth and Southsea Jewish Club until about 1957), founded 1944.(cxliii)

  • Jewish Community Centre, South Lodge, The Thicket, founded by 1974.(cxliv) It published the community bulletin 'Centre Points'. It adopted the name Portsmouth & Southsea Jewish Social Club when it moved out of South Lodge in 1978.(cxlv)

Israel & Zionist Organisations

  • Chovevei Zion Branch, formed 1898.(cxlviii)

  • JNF Commission, formed by at least 1927.(cxlix)

  • Portsmouth Young Israel Society, founded by 1930.(cl)

  • Zionist organisations, including: Zionist Association (from about 1911 until about 1914(cli)), Zionist Society (from about 1918 until mid 1920s and from about in the 1950s(clii)) and Zionist Council (from about 1927 until about 1936(cliii))

  • Women's Mizrachi, formed by at least 1954.(cliv)

Other Institutions

  • Jewish Naturalisation Society, founded by 1910.(clvii)

  • Trade Advisory Council, formed by 1946.(clviii)

  • Portsmouth & Southsea Jewish Defence Committee, formed by 1947.(clix)

  • Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX), founded by at least 1948.(clx)

  • Portsmouth Public Relations Committee, founded by 1948 and active until about 1959.(clxi)


PORTSMOUTH JEWISH CEMETERIES

Portsmouth has the following Jewish cemeteries:

  • Portsmouth Old Jews' Burial Ground, Jews' Lane (formerly Lazy Street), Fawcett Road, Southsea.

    Acquired by the Portsmouth Hebrew Congregation in 1749 and extended in 1800, 1844 and 1882. It is Britain's oldest functioning Jewish cemetery outside London.

  • Kingston Cemetery, Jewish Section, New Road, Copnor Bridge, Portsmouth.

    Contains about 100 graves, the earliest dating from 1902.
    - the cemetery is a Grade II Registered Park and Garden (number 1001679), designated on 5 November 2003. (View description on Historic England website.)

  • Catherington Lane Cemetery, Jewish Section, Horndean, Waterlooville

    Current burial ground of the community, opened 1988.

(For some additional information, also see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Portsmouth & Southsea)

 

Records:

Marriage Records & Registration District (BMD):

  • Portsmouth from 1 July 1990 - Link to Register Office website

    • Previous Name of Registration District:
      Portsea Island - from 1 July 1837 until 1 July 1900
      (All records would now be held by current office.)

 

Portsmouth Jewish Population Data

Year

Number

Source

1896

500

(The Jewish Year Book 1896/7)

1912

800

(The Jewish Year Book 1913)

1939

600

(The Jewish Year Book 1940)

1974

490

(The Jewish Year Book 1975)

1985

300

(The Jewish Year Book 1986)

1989

250

(The Jewish Year Book 1990)

1990

385

(The Jewish Year Book 1991)

2000

150

(The Jewish Year Book 2001)

2003

235

(The Jewish Year Book 2004)

 

Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) Information extracted from various sources, including Jewish Year Books, circa late 1940s and Congregation's history by Dr Aubrey Weinberg.

  • (iii) and (iv) Reserved.

  • (v) Listed under Portsmouth and Southsea in Jewish Year Books from 1930.

  • (vi) Listed under Portsmouth in Jewish Year Books from 1925 through 1930.

  • (vii) Listed under Portsea in Jewish Year Books to 1924. This was clearly the name of the congregation until the early 2oth century.

  • (viii) Weinberg's History and Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland by Sharman Kadish (2015 edition), p.101. The address was first listed in the Jewish Year Book 1937.

  • (ix) and (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) The Rise of Provincial Jewry - Portsmouth by Cecil Roth, 1950 and Weinberg's History - chapter "the Early Years".

  • (xii) The Jewish Year Book 1945/6 states that the first synagogue was in Oyster Row,. from where the congregation moved in "1747".

  • (xiii) Although Jewish Year Books 1901/02 and 1945/6 each state in introductory paragraphs that the White's Row synagogue dates from 1747, the 1945/6 edition (in its listings) gives the founding date as 1742, which is also the date given by a number of other authorities (Weinberg's History - chapter "the Early Years").

  • (xiv) Overview by Richard Cooper.

  • (xv) Weinberg's History - chapter "the Early Years".

  • (xvi) Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (xvii) and (xviii) Reserved.

  • (xix) The Rise of Provincial Jewry - Portsmouth by Cecil Roth, 1950 and Weinberg's History - chapter "Divisions Within the Congregation".

  • (xx) Weinberg's History - chapter "Divisions Within the Congregation".

  • (xxi) Weinberg's History - chapter "Divisions Within the Congregation".

  • (xxii) Jewish Chronicle of 22 July 1891.

  • (xxiii) Weinberg's History - chapter "Divisions Within the Congregation".

  • (xxiv) to (xxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxvii) The Jewish Chronicle of 11 September 1964 gives a start year for Rev. Phillips of 1864, but would appear to be an error as the 50th anniversary of his ministry was celebrated in September 1916 (The Jewish Chronicle of 15 September 1916) and the earliest report placing him in Portsmouth found in The Jewish Chronicle is in 1866. He was listed in Jewish Year Books from the first issue (1896/7) through 1924.

  • (xxviii) Jewish Chronicle reports 1924 and 1925 place Rev. Olivestone in Portsmouth. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1925 and 1926.

  • (xxix) Jewish Chronicle reports from 1926 place Rev. Bloch in Portsmouth and on 5 April 1935 The Jewish Chronicle reported that Rev. M. Bloch, the newly-appointed Minister of the Borough Synagogue, London, preached his farewell sermon at the Synagogue, Portsea, on Sunday. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1927 through 1935.

  • (xxx) Jewish Chronicle report of 6 December 1935 places Rev. Alexander in Portsmouth and on 23 April 1937 it reported that at the recent annual meeting of the congregation, the resignation of the minister, the Rev. H.I. Alexander, was accepted with much regret. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1936 and 1937.

  • (xxxi) and (xxxii) Reserved.

  • (xxxiii) The Jewish Chronicle of 13 May 1938 refers to Rev. C. M. Bloch's appointment in Portsmouth, and on 27 June 1941, in a report from Ilfracombe, it referred to Rev. C. M. Bloch, who has been appointed liaison and Education Officer for the North Devon area. He is listed as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Books 1939 and 1940.

  • (xxxiv) Rev. H.J. Levy is listed as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6. (The previous edition of the year book had been in 1940.) However, Jolles's Encyclopaedia gives his commencement as 1941, although no source is given.

  • (xxxv) The Jewish Chronicle of 20 July 1945 reported on Rabbi Newman's farewell address in Manchester (his previous position) and its report of 12 October 1945 placed him at Portsmouth. The Jewish Chronicle of 19 February 1954 placed him in Portsmouth and his induction service at Golders Green (his subsequent position) was reported on 9 April 1954. He was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1947 through 1954.

  • (xxxvi) Jewish Chronicle of 10 June 1955 reported that Rabbi Maurice Hool, who has been granted semicha both in this country and in Israel, has been appointed Rabbi of Portsmouth. On 29 May 1959 it reported on the induction of Rabbi Maurice Hool as minister of the Kingsbury District synagogue. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1956 through 1959.

  • (xxxvii) and (xxxviii) Reserved.

  • (xxxix) In December 1959 he was at Borehamwood and he is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Book 1961 through 1964. Jewish Chronicle of 20 March 1964 reported that Rev. M H. Malits, who will be leaving his ministry at Portsmouth and Southsea for a new appointment at Allerton, Liverpool, after Passover.

  • (xl) The Jewish Chronicle of 1 December 1967 reported that the Portsmouth congregation is now without a religious leader, following the departure of its minister Rabbi D. Lincoln, for the United States. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1966 through 1968.

  • (xli) The Jewish Chronicle of 4 May 73 reported that Rev. Lorraine, minister of the Barking and Becontree Hebrew Congregation for the past 3 1/2 years, has been appointed minister of the Portsmouth and Southsea Hebrew Congregation. Its report of 22 July 1974 placed Rev. Lorraine still in Portsmouth, his successor was appointed in 1976. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1974 through 1976.

  • (xlii) Based upon Jewish Chronicle reports 13 February 1976, 5 April 1996 and 24 January 1997 and Dee's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1977 through 1996. Dee had previously served as shochet and mohel to the Belfast Jewish community (c.1959-c.1964) and as second reader of the Blackpool United Hebrew Congegation (1964-1976). In 1996, he was convicted of sexually abusing children in England and in 1997 in Northern Ireland (the offences were committed between the 1960s and 1981). He was imprisoned in both jurisdictions.

  • (xliii) and (xliv) Reserved.

  • (xlv) Jewish Chronicle reported on 25 April 1997 that the congregation had persuaded 76-year-old Rev Herschel Caplan to come out of retirement and become its part-time minister, taking over the pulpit left vacant by the Rev Anthony Dee, who was jailed in January for offenses against children. On 16 September 2005 it reported that Rabbi Katanka replaced Rev. Caplan, who had retired through ill health 18 months previously after serving the community for seven years. Rev. Caplan is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1998 through 2004.

  • (xlvi) Jewish Chronicle reported on 16 September 2005 that Rabbi Katanka was inducted as minister of the congregation the previous week, in the presence of Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, his appointment having taken place in 2004. On 19 August 2011, it reported that the occasion also served as a farewell to Rabbi David Katanka, who leaves the community after eight years’ service. He is listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 2005 through 2014.

  • (xlvii) Various Jewish Chronicle reports. Rev. Burns also visited in 1997 and 2004.

  • (xlviii) and (xlix) Reserved.

  • (l) Weinberg's History - chapter "Divisions Within the Congregation"; Kol Dodi of Rabbi David Katanka, 2015, pp. 93/4. Reb Lieb's actual position within the congregation is not certain and from 1766 to 1789 he was involved with the breakaway congregation in Daniel's Row.

  • (li) Rev. Ornstein's (Jewish Chronicle obituary of 3 January 1896.

  • (lii) The Jewish Chronicle reported on 7 September 1860 that Rev. Kaufman "late of Portsea," had been the successful candidate for the office of minister in Leeds. It is unclear whether Rev. Kaufman served at Portsmouth as minister or (more likely) reader and shochet. Jolles's Encyclopaedia gives his period of service as circa 1850 and 1856.

  • (liii) Rev L. Harfield, entry in Jolles's Encyclopaedia.

  • (liv) Rev I. Hart, Arnold Levy, Sunderland Jewish Community, Jewish Chronicle various reports..

  • (lv) Reserved.

  • (lvi) Rabbi Rapaport's Jewish Chronicle obituary of 1 June 1923.

  • (lvii) Rev. Greenberg's Jewish Chronicle obituary of 21 January 1916.

  • (lviii) Jewish Chronicle reports relating to Rev. Harris.

  • (lix) and (lx) Reserved.

  • (lxi) Jewish Chronicle of 4 August 1893 reported the death of their esteemed second minister and revered colleague, of the Portsmouth congregation, Rev. J Tuchman...."For fifteen years he toiled unceasingly, and he would not give in until disease compelled him."

  • (lxii) Rev. Brown's Jewish Chronicle obituary 29 May 1908.

  • (lxiii) The Jewish Chronicle of 10 July 1908 reported that Rev. Eli Cohen had been elected reader and shochet in Portsmouth. He returned to Merthyr Tydfil within the year.

  • (lxiv) The Jewish Chronicle of 4 September 1908 reported that on the previous Sunday, members of the Edinburgh's Graham Street Synagogue met to bid farewell to their Reader and Junior Minister, the Rev. Hyman Levenberg, who is leaving to take up a similar post in Portsmouth. His moved from Portsmouth to the USA is described in the Profile of his son Rabbi Edgar Elias Siskin. Rev. Levenberg was listed as reader and shochet of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1916 th

  • rough 1924 (clearly an error).

  • (lxv) Based upon Rev. Filer's listing as assistant minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1918 and 1919.

  • (lxvi) and (lxvii) Reserved.

  • (lxviii) ) The Jewish Chronicle on 14 January 1921 reported the Rev. Joshua Bach had been inducted into office as first reader at Portsmouth the previous sabbath and he was still to be found in Portsmouth in early 1924 (The Jewish Chronicle 4 April 1924). On 25 July 1924 Rev. Bach writes to The Jewish Chronicle from Worthing, Sussex, concerning his four years' service as reader to the Portsmouth Hebrew Congregation.

  • (lxix) Jewish Post, Indianapolis 2 December 1949. Rev. Schwartz was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1928 through 1947 (other than the war when publication ceased)

  • (lxx) From Poland To Paradise Lane and Other Journeys - a history of the Jewish community of Blackburn, by Hilary Thomas, 2018, pp.103/4. Rev. Susman is listed as reader of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1950.

  • (lxxi) The Jewish Chronicle on 25 August 1950 reported that Rev. Israel Cohen, of Darlington, has been elected as chazan-shochet and teacher to the congregation and on 1 December 1967 it reported that Rev. Israel Cohen, chazan-shochet of the Portsmouth congregation, has accepted a "call " to a similar post with the Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation. (He was inducted into office at Bournemouth on 30 December 1967.)

  • (lxxii) and (lxxiii) Reserved.

  • (lxxiv) Based upon Rev. Posner's listing as reader of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1969.

  • (lxxv) The Jewish Chronicle on 21 July 1972 reported that Rev Michael Atkins, aged 26, has been appointed minister of the Coventry Hebrew Congregation in succession to the Rev N. H. Rockman and that he, who will assume his duties in August, has for the past two years been minister(sic) with the Portsmouth and Southsea Hebrew Congregation where he was also in charge of the Jewish education of the community's children. Rev. Atkins was listed as reader of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1971 and 1972, and it appears that this was more likely that post held by him, although, as the congregation was then without a formal minister, he would probably have performed many of the functions of minister.

  • (lxxvi) to (lxxx) Reserved.

  • (lxxxi) 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. Initially year books corresponded to the Hebrew year, and thus ran roughly from autumn of one year - the year of publication - until autumn of the next year. From 1909, 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 1954, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1948 and continued in office until 1954. However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ from those shown here. The Jewish Year Book was not published during World War II. There were generally no Jewish Year Book listings of officers, other than the secretary, subsequent to 1956.

  • (lxxxii) The title "President" appears to have gradually given way to the title "Warden" as the title of the leading executive officer. At no time did the Jewish Year Book list both a President and a Warden for the congregation in the same year.

  • (lxxxiii) When the congregation's minister also served as the congregation's secretary, we have generally taken the years of service as secretary as corresponding with the years of service as minister.

  • (lxxxiv) to (lxxxvi) Reserved.

  • (lxxxvii) The Rise of Provincial Jewry - Portsmouth by Cecil Roth, 1950.

  • (lxxxviii) Figures provided by relevant Jewish Year Books.

  • (lxxxix) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by 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.

  • (xc) to (xcix) Reserved.

  • (c) The 1856 date appears in Jewish Year Book from 1896/7, the 1862 is noted in the Jewish Directory for 1874.

  • (ci) Noted in Jewish Year Books 1896/7 to 1904/5.

  • (cii) and (ciii) Reserved.

  • (civ) However, it was not listed in Jewish Year Books until 1954.

  • (cv) Jewish Directory for 1874, p.82.

  • (cvi) First noted in Jewish Year Book 1904.

  • (cvii) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 3.

  • (cviii) Jewish Directory for 1874, p.82.

  • (cix) and (cx) Reserved.

  • (cxi) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1933.

  • (cxii) Portsmouth Times September 1859 and Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 4.

  • (cxiii) Change of name first noted in Jewish Year Book 1952.

  • (cxiv) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 4.

  • (cxv) Jewish Directory for 1874, p.82.

  • (cxvi) and (cvii) Reserved.

  • (cxviii) Note in the Jewish Year Book 1898/9. It was listed until the 1924 edition..

  • (cxix) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1914 and listed until the 1927 edition.

  • (cxx) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 5. Did not "survived into the contemporary period." Listed in Jewish Year Books in 1920s and 1930s.

  • (cxix) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1925 and listed until the 1932 edition. Did not "survived into the contemporary period" (Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 5).

  • (cxxii) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 5. Did not "survived into the contemporary period."

  • (cxxiii) and (cxxxiv) Reserved.

  • (cxxv) Sole listing in the Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (cxxvi) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 8. Its sole listing was in the Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (cxxvii) and (cxxviii) Reserved.

  • (cxxix) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 7.

  • (cxxx) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 8.

  • (cxxxi) Jewish Chronicle report of 6 December 1878.

  • (cxxxii) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 6.

  • (cxxxiii) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 7.

  • (cxxxiv) and (cxxxv) Reserved.

  • (cxxvi) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1918. Listed until the 1937 edition.

  • (cxxvii) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1924. Only listed until the 1927 edition.

  • (cxxviii) Sole listing in the Jewish Year Book 1937.

  • (cxxix) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1937 and listed until the 1945/6 edition. Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 8.

  • (cxl) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1937. (5696 is the Hebrew year that ran from September 1935 to September 1936). It was listed until the 1945/6 edition.

  • (cxli) and (cxlii) Reserved.

  • (cxliii) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 7. It was listed in Jewish Year Books until until the 1959 edition.

  • (cxliv) It was first listed in Jewish Year Book 1975.

  • (cxlv) Weinberg's History - chapter "Portsmouth Jewish Societies", paragraph 8.

  • (cxlvi) and (cxlvii) Reserved.

  • (cxlviii) Noted in the Jewish Year Book 1896/7.

  • (cxlix) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1928.

  • (cl) First listed in the Jewish Year Book 1931 and listed until the 1936 edition.

  • (cli) Listed in Jewish Year Books from 1912 until 1914.

  • (clii) Listed under this name in Jewish Year Books from 1919 through 1924 and 1952 through 1954.

  • (cliii) Listed in Jewish Year Books from 1928 until 1936.

  • (cliv) First listed in Jewish Year Books 1959.

  • (clv) and (clvi) Reserved.

  • (clvii) First listed in Jewish Year Books 1911. Listed until 1914.

  • (clviii) Sole listing in the Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (clix) Sole listing in the Jewish Year Book 1948.

  • (clx) First listed in Jewish Year Books 1949.

  • (clxi) Listed in Jewish Year Books 1949 through 1959.

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Page created: 22 November 2003
Significant expansion and notes added: 23 October 2023
Page most recently amended: 20 June 2024

Research primarily by David Shulman
Current formatting by David Shulman


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