Reading Jewish Community

Reading, Berkshire




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Town of Reading

Reading, on the confluence of the river Thames and river Kennet in southeast England, has a population of about 145,000.  It was a county borough until 1974, when it became a local government district and the county town of the county of Berkshire. In 1998, the renamed borough of Reading became a unitary authority, when Berkshire lost its administrative status, becoming purely a ceremonial county.  Tilehurst is a suburb of Reading, falling partly within the Borough of Reading, and partly within the adjoining unitary authority of West Berkshire.

The Reading Jewish Community

Although Jews are known to have been living in Reading from at least the 1840s, it was not until the 1880s that an organised Jewish community was established following the settlement in the town of a number of Jewish tailors from London's East End. This community attracted the help of such personages as Lord Swaythling (Sir Samuel Montagu), Claude Montefiore, Sir Hermann Gallancz and Lady Lucas to build and support a synagogue. A progressive congregation was formed in Reading in 1978.

Ravenswood Village at Crowthorne, which supports Jewish adults with special needs, is about 13 miles by road to the south east of Reading and has a long connection with the local community, and Carmel College at Wallingford, "the only Jewish Public School", was about 14 miles to the north of Reading.

Jewish Congregations

The following are the Jewish congregations that exist or existed in Reading:

* An active congregation.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Reading include:

  • UK Jewish Communal Leaders Database

    • 22 Reading records (as of 30 September 2021).

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in Reading during 1810s (1 record), 1820s (2 records), 1830s (1 record), 1840s (2 records), 1850s (3 records), 1860s (1 record) and 1870s (2 records).



Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the Reading Jewish Community


Notable Jewish Connections with Reading
(courtesy Steven Jaffe)

  • Uri Geller (b. 1946) Israeli-born personality, illusionist and psychic, lived in the village of Sonning to the north of Reading.

  • Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid QC, 2nd Baronet (18081878), a barrister, was MP for Reading from 1860 until his death. The synagogue is located on Goldsmid Road, formerly Westfield Road, re-named because the Goldsmid family donated the land on which the synagogue was built.

  • Rufus Isaacs KC, MP, 1st Marquess of Reading, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, PC (18601935) was a Liberal politician and judge, who served as Lord Chief Justice of England, Ambassador to the United States, Viceroy of India, and Foreign Secretary. He was the first Jew to be Lord Chief Justice, and the first, and as yet only, British Jew to be raised to a marquessate. He was MP for Reading from 1904 until 1913 and there is a Rufus Isaacs Road in Caversham, Reading. A 12 foot statue of Lord Reading was removed from India post independence and since 1971 stands at Eldon Square (King George V Gardens), Reading. He was a founding chairman of the Palestine Electric Corporation (now the Israel Electric Company) and the Reading Power Station in north Tel Aviv was named in his honour.

  • Sir Sam Mendes CBE, film and stage director, producer, and screenwriter, was born in Reading in 1965.

  • Ian (Mik) Mikardo (1908-1993) was Labour MP for Reading constituencies from 1945 until 1959 and Ian Mikardo Way, Caversham, Reading, is named in his honour.


Other Reading Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Reading Hebrew Classes (Cheder)

Founded shortly following the establisment of the congregation and generally under the supervision of the minister or reader.

  • Reading Hebrew Education Committee (founded by 1910)

  • Nursery and Kindergarten (founded by 1984)

Ladies' Organisations

  • Reading Ladies Guild (founded in 1907)

  • Reading and Tilehurst Ladies Guild (founded by 1958)

Welfare Organisations

  • Reading Hebrew Benevolent Society (founded by 1915)

Literary, Social, Youth and Sports Organisations

  • Reading University Jewish Society (founded by 1964)

  • Reading Youth Study Group (founded by 1974)

  • Reading Jewish Youth Club and Centre (founded by 1925).

  • Reading Hebrew Juvenile Social Club (previously Juvenile Hebrew Society) (founded by 1906).

  • Reading Hebrew Social and Literary Society (founded by 1915).

  • Reading Young Marrieds (later, Young at Heart) Group (founded 1964)

  • AJEX (founded in 1947, disbanded early 1980s).

Friendly Societies, Lodges, etc.

  • Reading B'nei Brith Lodge No. 1897  (founded in 1951, disbanded 1957)

Zionist and other Israel Organisations

  • WIZO (formerly Reading Womens' Zionist Society) (founded by 1945)

  • Junior Zionist Assoiation

  • Reading Zionist Society

Communal and Miscellaneous Institutions

  • Jewish Communal League (founded by 1905)

  • Berkshire Jewish Representative Council (founded by 1998)

  • Berkshire Committee for Soviet Jewry (founded by 1946)

  • Reading United Jewish Council (founded by 1980)

  • Trades Advisory Council (founded by 1949)

  • Reading Kosher Food Shop (founded by 1994)

  • WIZO Judaica Shop (founded by 1993)


Community Records

  • Registration District (for BMD): Reading (since 1 April 1998).

    • Previous Registration Districts
         Reading (from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1974);
         Reading & Wokingham (from 1 April 1974 to 1 April 1998).

    • Any registers would now be held by current register office.

    • Register Office website


Reading Jewish Cemeteries Information

There is no known Jewish cemetery in Reading.


Reading Jewish Population Data


13 families

(Website of Reading Hebrew Congregation)


60 - 70

(The Jewish Year Book 1995/6)


150 - 200

(The Jewish Year Book 1898/9)



(The Jewish Year Book 1899/1900)



(The Jewish Year Book 1901/2)



(The Jewish Year Book 1903/4)



(The Jewish Year Book 1949)



(The Jewish Year Book 1963)



(The Jewish Year Book 1967)



(The Jewish Year Book 1971)



(The Jewish Year Book 1991)


155 families

(Sue Krisman's Portrait of a Community, p.1)



(The Jewish Year Book 2005)

Jewish Congregations in Berkshire

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 21 August 2005
Page most recently amended: 16 March 2023

Formatting and research by David Shulman

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