Torbay Jewish Community

(Torquay & Paignton)

South Devon




Selected Press Reports relating to the
Torquay and Paignton (now Torbay) Jewish Community

Jewish Chronicle, 13 October 1939

Over 100 residents of Torquay and Paignton attended a meeting held last Sunday at the Sandringham Hotel (by permission of the management). Mr. Saul Harris (of Golders Green), who presided, said that the question of Hebrew education for children and the provision of Kasher meat, etc. had become a matter of serious concern. It had been ascertained that approximately 125 Jewish families were now residing in the area and there were about 75 children who would require religious instruction. It was unanimously resolved to form the Torquay and Paignton Hebrew Congregation. The following were elected: Messrs. Saul Harris, Chairman; R. Marriott, Treasurer; Simon Richman, Secretary; and a Committee of twelve. The Chairman reported that plans were well advanced for the formation of a Social Section, and that Miss Richman had offered a room at the Sandringham Hotel as a headquarters for the society.

Jewish Chronicle,
15 December 1939

A general meeting of members of the Torquay and Paignton Hebrew Congregation was held recently at the Sandringham Hotel. The Chairman, Mr. Saul Harris, gave a resume' of the work done by the Committee since the Congregation was founded two months ago. He said that arrangements had been made for the supply of Kasher meat and poultry for residents in the town. Arrangements had also been concluded with the Jewish Religious Education Board of London for the appointment of a resident teacher to provide Hebrew education for the children. A Ladies' Committee, to be known as the Social Section of the Congregation, has been formed with Mrs. Aaron Wright as Chairman.

Jewish Chronicle,
24 May 1940

With the object of providing religious facilities for Jewish residents in Torquay, Paignton, Babbacombe, Goodrington and the surrounding areas, has now been formed. Services, at which members of the United Synagogue and all others interested are welcome, being regularly held at the Sandringham Hotel, by permission of Mr. R. Marriott, from whom further information can be obtained. The following Hon. Officers have been elected: Messrs. S. Harris, Warden; D. Harounoff, Treasurer, and R. Marriott, Hon. Secretary.

Jewish Chronicle,
18 April 1941

The Synagogue premises acquired by the United Synagogue Membership Group at 186, Union Street, Torquay, were recently consecrated by the Rev. Ephraim Levine, of London, assisted by the resident Minister, the Rev. S. Marcovitch. The Synagogue was formally opened by Mr. Sydney Ross. Mr. Saul Harris, President, expressed the congregation's thanks to Mr. Levine; votes of thanks were also accorded to Mr. Sydney Ross for a handsome donation to the welfare fund, to Mr. Tuflc for the gift of a silver Kiddush cup, and spice box, and to Dr. Maurice Lees for the gift of an Ark.

Jewish Chronicle,
9 January 1942

The residents of Paignton have for some weeks been holding regular Sabbath morning services, under the direction of the Torquay and Paignton (United) Hebrew Congregation and its Minister, the Rev. S. Marcovitch. The Warden at these services is Mr. Simon Roseman, of whom inquiries can be made at 60, Upper Manor Road, Paignton. A Synagogue Ladies' Guild for Torquay and Paignton has been formed, and in its short existence, has already given valuable service, particularly in connection with the welfare of evacuated children and the entertaining of Jewish members of H.M. Forces. The Guild's officers are: Mesdames S. Roseman, Chairman; S. Byre, Treasurer; and A. M. Cohen and S. Marcovitch, Joint Hon. Secretary.

Jewish Chronicle,
5 June 1942

The annual meeting of the Torquay and Paignton (United) Hebrew Congregation (United Synagogue Membership Group) was held at the Synagogue, with Mr. Saul Harris, President, in the chair. He stated that religion classes are regularly conducted in Torquay by the Minister, the Rev. S. Marcovitch, and in Paignton by Mr. A. M. Cohen. The Welfare Committee had provided clothing and comforts for evacuee children with the co-operation of the Ladies' Guild; monthly military services had been held: and social functions for the troops organised. The following were elected: Messrs. Saul Harris, President and Representative at the Board of Deputies; S. Byre, Vice-President; J. Jacobs, Warden; and B. W. Cohen, Financial Representative.

Jewish Chronicle,
31 July 1942

A recent service, conducted by the Rev. J. Weintrobe, C.F., was followed by a social organised by the newly formed Club for Jewish Members of H.M. Forces at the Unitarian Hall, Higher Terrace. The social evenings are being held fortnightly The officers of the club are Mr. S. Claire, Chairman; Mr. I. Ebrahhimoff, Vice-Chairman; Miss D. Cohen, Secretary; and Miss R. Claire, Treasurer.

Jewish Chronicle,
8 January 1943

Rabbi H. Baddiel, at present Minister to the Buxton Congregation, has been appointed Minister, Teacher, and Secretary to the Torquay and Paignton Congregation. The Synagogue premises at Union Street, Torquay, have been vacated and all services are now held, every morning and evening, at the Synagogue of the Sandringham Hotel. Mr. Reuben Marriott has been elected a Warden to act jointly with Mr. J. Jacobs. The other officers are Mr. Saul Harris, President; and Mr. B. W. Cohen, Financial Representative.

Jewish Chronicle,
23 November 1945

A farewell gathering was held at the Argyll Hall, Torquay, in honour of Rabbi C.K. Baddiel on his leaving Torquay.

Jewish Chronicle,
14 February 1958

A resolution to close the present synagogue on the upper floor of Abbey Hall, Abbey Road, was adopted at a general meeting of the Torquay and Paignton Congregation held in the Synagogue Rooms last week. This decision was taken as a result of the difficulties experienced by the congregation to maintain current costs, shortage of funds, and poor attendances at regular services. The synagogue furniture and appurtenances are to go into temporary storage while efforts are made to find smaller premises suitable for use as a synagogue. The meeting also found itself unable to consider, for the time being, the appointment of a fall-time minister.

Jewish Chronicle,
8 May 1981

With a mere 20 subscribing members (three women) and only a handful regularly attending services the statutory minyan for public worship is only occasionally achieved - usually when visitors holiday in this very attractive resort. The annual subscription of £25 is hardly sufficient to pay the 500 rental to the council...Torquay is fortunate in having the advice and guidance of Rabbi Dr Susser, Minister of the Plymouth Congregation, and the wise counsel of Rev Malcolm Weisman. We continue to hold regular morning services on Sabbaths and Festivals (and full service on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur).
Letter to The Jewish Chronicle  by Monty Waxman, chairman/secretary.

Jewish Chronicle,
1 December 2000

TORBAY Hebrew Congregation has held its final service, marking the end of almost 60 years of organised Jewish life in the seaside area. The community, based in Torquay, began when a group of about 50 Iranian Jews, together with their rabbi, made their way from Stamford Hill to the south-west to escape the blitz. Prior to that, the only Jewish activity had been periodic Shabbat services in the now-defunct Sandringham Hotel. The ravages of the war pushed the number of evacuee families to more than 80. With the end of hostilities, most returned to London. Diminished in numbers, the remainder carried on, holding services in the synagogue, located above the old town hall, and running a busy social calendar and its own burial society. An ageing community, it has been unable to replenish itself. Today there are seven paid-up members. Although small, Torquay's Jewish community made its own contribution to the life of the town. Louis Solomons was the Torquay health officer, and Joseph Lyons filled the same position at a county level. Leonard Haas was a respected paediatrician, and synagogue warden Ernest Freed was a mainstay of the Torquay community for many years. A former deputy lord mayor, today he is the town's official meteorologist. He said: "The final death blow came with the establishment of a new Reform-affiliated community in nearby Totnes. Our social functions celebrating Jewish festivals lost their bedrock of support and it was time to call it a day." The congregation therefore decided to close up shop, and is donating its Sifrei Torah and vestments to the Exeter community.

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Page created: 14 June 2022
Page most recently amended: 17 June 2022

Research by Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman



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