JCR-UK

Montefiore Synagogue

Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent

 

 

   


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Montefiore Synagogue and Mausoleum
The Montefiore Synagogue and Mausoleum
circa 1901

Congregation Data

Name:

Montefiore Synagogue

Also Known as:

Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue, Ramsgate

Address:

Honeysuckle Road, Hereson, Ramsgate CT11 8AA(iii)

Jewish Heritage Listings:

The Synagogue and adjacent outbuilding is a Grade II* Listed Building, listed on 13 August 1968 (number 1051632). See View description on Historic England website.

The Entrance Gate with gatepiers to north west of Montefiore Synagogue (circa 1870) is a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 13 October 1999 (number 1378741). See View description on Historic England website.

Gentleman's Toilet at Montefiore Synagogue and Mausoleum is a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 10 September 2003 (number 1390615). See View description on Historic England website.

Formation and Construction:

In 1831, the great Jewish financier, activist and philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, purchased East Cliff (now demolished), a country mansion with 24 acres of land in then fashionable seaside town of Ramsgate. Shortly thereafter, he purchased an adjacent plot of land for the erection of his own synagogue and commissioned his cousin, architect David Mocatta,(iv) the first Anglo-Jewish architect, to design the building, the first synagogue in Britain, since the medieval period, to be built by a Jewish architect.(v)

The foundation stone was laid on 9 August 1831(vi) and the Synagogue was consecrated on 17 June 1833.(vii)

Sir Moses and his wife, Lady Judith Montefiore, stated that the synagogue was "in commemoration of the happy event of their first visit to the Holy City of Jerusalem and as a humble tribute to the Almighty for the great and manifold blessings He bestowed on them".(vii)

Judith Lady Montefiore died in 1862 (at the age of 78) and, as previously arranged, Sir Moses buried her at a spot not more that fifteen paces from the Synagogue. A mausoleum, similar to the small domed structure on the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and said to be Rachelís tomb (which in 1841 Sir Moses restored and totally renovated, following heavy damage in an earthquake), was erected over the grave. When Sir Moses died in 1885 (at the age of nearly 101), he was buried alongside her in accordance with his wishes.(viii) Sir Moses had no known children, his principal heir being his nephew, Sir Joseph Sebag-Montefiore (1822-1903). The mausoleum is a Grade II* Listed Building, listed on 13 August 1968 (number 1085375). View Description on Historic England website.

In the 1970s, a proposal to transfer the remains of Sir Moses and Lady Judith to Mount Zion, Jerusalem, together with moving the mausoleum there, was abandoned due to the projected cost. In 1977, the Montefiore Endowment converted one of the cottages on the estate into a house for visiting ministers who would be expected to conduct services during their visits.(ix) Various plans to develop the estate since then have generated controversy, with interested parties including the Montefiore Endowment, the Spanish and Portuguese congregation, members of the Montefiore family, Ramsgate town council and local heritage groups, as well as strictly Orthodox Jews from Stamford Hill, London, who visit the site.†

Ritual:

Orthodox Sephardi (Spanish & Portuguese Rite). Sir Moses Montefiore specified that services were to continued in the same manner as those of London's Bevis Marks Synagogue, with the exception that the mitzvot were announced in Hebrew (not Portuguese) and Friday night Kiddush was to be recited in the Synagogue.(x)

Current Status:

Following Sir Moses's death in 1885, the synagogue continued as a functioning synagogue for many decades thanks to support from the Montefiore Endowment and the scholars who attended Montefiore college.

In 1960, the college moved to London, after which the synagogue was used only for High Holyday services and special occasions, due to the absence of a local minyan (a quorum); but it is used occasionally by other groups from London or elsewhere, who arrange their own services. Access to the synagogue for prayer or for interested visitors may be arranged directly by appointment. The synagogue is also used from time to time for weddings and other events.(xi)

Affiliation:

The Montefiore Endowment, which maintains and supports the Synagogue and Mausoleum, is an affiliated institution to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation.(xii) Sir Moses's seats at both Bevis Marks and Ramsgate are still preserved.

Website:

The website of the Montefiore Endowment is
https://www.montefioreendowment.org.uk/sirmoses/ramsgate/about/.

Chazanim/ Ministers:
(To view a short profile of a chazan/minister - hold the cursor over his name.)

The following were sometimes referred to as ministers (for example, in Jewish Year Book listings) and, in fact, appeared to fulfill most of the duties of a minister, and elsewhere are described as chazanim (cantors or readers) and were clearly trained in chazanut. For much of the period in question, there were two individuals serving together.

Rev. Isaac Henry Myers - from 1833 until about 1872.(xv)

Rev. Emanuel Myers - from 1833 until about 1885.(xvi)

Rev. Herman Shandel - chazan/shochet, and later chazan/minister, from 1876 until 1924.(xvii)

Rev. David Edgar Sèches - from 1886 until about 1887.(xix)

Rev. George Simmons Belasco - from 1888 until 1929.(xx)

Rev. David Abraham Jessurun Cardoza, BA - from December 1929 until 1936.(xxi)

Rev. Benjamin Rodrigues Pereira, BA - from December 1929 to about 1967.(xxii)

Officers:(xxv)

Presidents (1896-1956)(xxvi)

1896-1903 - Sir Joseph Sebag Montefiore

1905-1907 - Edward L. Mocatta

1910-1911 - J.D. Israel

1911-1913 - R.M. Sebag Montefiore

1913-1915 - Edward L. Mocatta

1915-1931 - Eustace A. Lindo

1932-1934 - Edward L. Mocatta(xxvii)

1934-1956 - C.E. Sebag Montefiore(xxiii)

Secretaries (1902-1977)(xxxi)

1902-1915 - H. Tritsch

1915-1925 - Lewis Shandel(xxxii)

1936-1967 - Rev. B. Rodrigues Pereira

from 1967 - Aaron George Gomes da Costa(xxxiii)

Membership Data:

Reports & Survey(xxxvi)

1977 - 6 male (or household) members

1983 - 6 male (or household) members

Legal and Charitable Status:

The Montefiore Endowment is a private company limited by guarantee without share capital and with exemption to use word "Limited" (company number 05604295) incorporated on 26 October 2005. It is also a registered charity (number 1113038), registered on 20 February 2006 (standard registration).(xxxvii)

The objects of the charity are:

  1. The maintenance and support of the synagogue and maintenance of the mausoleum and cemetery belonging to the Charity.

  2. The advancement of the education of the public by the maintenance and promotion for the public benefit of the moveable property of the Charity including scrolls of the law, bells, cloaks, silver plate, books, manuscripts and pictures in such way as the directors of the Charity think fit including: A. the digitalisation, translation and publication of books and manuscripts; B. the display of artefacts.

  3. The promotion of the advanced study of the Holy Law as revealed on Sinai and expounded by the revered sages of the Mishna and Talmud in one or more of the following ways:- A. in the training and maintenance during training of Orthodox Jewish teachers, ministers and rabbis by awarding scholarships of such value and tenable at such institutions of further  education as the directors of the Charity shall think fit; B. by making grants to any institution of further education which provides such education and is established for charitable purposes; C. in such other ways as the directors of the Charity think fit.

  4. The advancement for the public benefit of the education of young adults and lay readers in the Orthodox Jewish community in such ways as the directors of the Charity think fit, including: A. the promotion of the study of the Holy Law as revealed on Sinai and expounded by the revered sages of the Mishna and Talmud and its application to contemporary life; B. the provision of leadership training.

  5. The promotion of religious harmony for the benefit of the public by: A. promoting mutual respect and understanding between those of different faiths and beliefs; B. teaching the benefit of tolerance, mutual understanding, social harmony and integration, in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Law as expounded by the revered sages of the Mishna and Talmud and as demonstrated in the life of Sir Moses Montefiore.

Worship Registration:

The synagogue in Hereson, Ramsgate is registered as a Place of Worship - Worship Register Number 30799 - under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.(xxxviii)

Cemetery Information:

Since 1872, the Congregation has used the Ramsgate Jewish Cemetery, Upper Dumpton Park Road. Prior thereto, Congregation members generally used the Sephardi cemeteries in London's End End. (For details, see Cemetery Information on the Ramsgate Community home page)

 

 

Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Ramsgate Montefiore Synagogue

on JCR-UK

 

on Third Party Websites

 

Records:

Synagogue Records:

Synagogue Records - Certain records are held by:
Hon. Archivist of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Congregation
2 Ashworth Road, London W9 1JY

 

Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) The address was previously given simply as Hereson, the principal road in the neighbourhood being Hereson Road, part of the A255, and it appears that the main access to the synagogue was originally directly from Hereson Road, by way of what is now a narrow pathway. (The original gates leading to the synagogue, listed by Historic England, are positioned on Hereson Road.)  The present main access, from Honeysuckle Road is first mentioned in the Jewish Year Book 2011, although this may have occurrd some years earlier.

  • (iv) To view a description of the Jewish architectural works by D. Mocatta, hold your cursor over his names

  • (v) The Montefiore Endowment website and Historic England listing.

  • (vi) Micheal Jolles, quoting D. A. J. Cardozo & P. Goodman, Think and Thank (1933).

  • (vii) Jewish Directory for 1874, edited by Asher I. Myers, p. 82.

  • (viii) Primarily the Montefiore Endowment website and Historic England listings.

  • (ix) Jewish Chronicle report of 5 August 1977.

  • (x) The Montefiore Endowment website.

  • (xi) The Montefiore Endowment website, accessed January 2024.

  • (xii) Jewish Year Books to 2015.

  • (xiii) and (xiv) Reserved.

  • (xv) Jolles's Encyclopaedia of Chazanim, etc., p. 718, refers to the joint appointment of Revs. I.H. and E. Myers as the synagogue's first ministers. As minister, Rev. I.H. Myers officiated at the first funeral at the Ramsgate Jewish cemetery 28 October 1872.

  • (xvi) Jolles's Encyclopaedia of Chazanim, etc., p. 718, refers to the joint appointment of Revs. I.H. and E. Myers as the synagogue's first ministers. As minister, Rev. E. Myers officiated at the funerals at the Ramsgate Jewish cemetery until 16 November 1884, shortly before his death.

  • (xvii) The East Kent Times obituary dated 18 June 1924.

  • (xviii) and (xix) Reserved.

  • (xix) As minister, Rev. Sèches officiated at the funerals at the Ramsgate Jewish cemetery solely in November and December 1886. There were no funerals in 1887.

  • (xx) Jewish Miscellanies website regarding his appointment. He is listed as Minister of the synagogue from the first Jewish Year Book (1896/7) until the 1929 edition. 

  • (xxi) Listed as minister of the synagogue in Jewish Year Books from 1930 through 1936.

  • (xxii) Listed as minister of the synagogue in Jewish Year Books from 1930 through 1967.

  • (xxiii) and (xxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxv) Base primarily on listings in Jewish Year Books, which do not include a listing for all years covered. 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 1919 through 1924, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1918 and continued in office until 1924. 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.

  • (xxvi) Listed from the first Jewish Year Book (1896/7) through the 1956 edition. From 1957 the publication ceased providing details of the president.

  • (xxvii) Not the same person as the Edward L. Mocatta previously listed, who died in 1915.

  • (xxviii) The Jewish Year Book was not published in the war years 1941 to 1945. As C.E. Sebag-Montefiore was listed as president from 1935 through 1940 and from 1945/6 through 1956, it is assumed that he also served as president during the intervening period.

  • (xxix) and (xxx) Reserved.

  • (xxxi) Listed from Jewish Year Book 1902/3 through 1977. From 1978 through 2010, the Ramsgate Synagogue was not listed at all in Jewish Year Books.

  • (xxxii) Lewis Shandel was the son of Rev. Herman Shandel and died in 1925.

  • (xxxiii) Following the removal of the rabbinical college to London in the 1960s and the departure of Rev. Rodrigues Pereira, Mr. da Costa, although listed solely as hon. secretary in Jewish Year Books (until the synagogue ceased being listed in 1978), served effectively as warden, lay reader, lay minister and gabbai of the synagogue well into the 1990s and possibly later. He died in 2008.

  • (xxxiv) and (xxxv) Reserved.

  • (xxxvi) 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.

  • (xxxvii) Company House and Charity Commission websites, accessed January 2024. Clicking on the company number and charity number will take you, respectively, to the company's registration and the charity's registration on the respective websites.

  • (xxxviii) Page 747 of the 2010 List of Places of Worship.



Ramsgate Jewish Community home page

List of Synagogues of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews' Congregation

Jewish Congregations in Kent

Jewish Communities of England homepage


Page created: 18 April 2003
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 23 January 2024
Page most recently amended: 6 May 2024

Research and formatting by David Shulman


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