Worthing & District Jewish Community

and the former

Worthing & District Hebrew Congregation

Worthing, West Sussex




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Borough of Worthing

Worthing, a seaside town just to the west of Brighton on England's south coast, has a population of about 100,000.  It was a municipal borough until 1974, when it became a local government district and borough in the county of West Sussex. Goring-by-Sea (population about 8,000) is an affluent neighbourhood of Worthing, lying some 2.5 miles west of Worthing town centre. It has been part of the Borough of Worthing since 1929.

Worthing Jewish Community

There was no organised Jewish community in Worthing prior to World War II. In 1939, the Norwood Jewish Orphanage, based in south London, had initially been evacuated to homes in Worthing. However, in 1940, after the fall of France, the Orphanage was moved to Hertford for the duration of the war, as it was considered that Worthing was too close to the action. However, a Jewish congregation was also established in Worthing early in World War II, primarily by war evacuees, but which continued for a number of years following the end of the War. After a break of several years the Jewish residents of Worthing and surrounding areas re-established themselves an association, which was primarily a social group.

In March 2023, it was announced that Chabad Lubavitch Brighton would be spreading its wings in Sussex by organising events in the Worthing area, with the appointment of a rabbinic couple, Rabbi Shaya Gourarie and Rebbetzen Mushky Gourarie, to spearhead the drive in Worthing, as well as elsewhere in West Sussex.(i)

Earlier Congregation

Congregation Data


Worthing and District Hebrew Congregation


Heene Hall, Heene Road, Worthing. However, the earliest services (in 1939) were held at St John's Hut or Hall, Elm Grove, Worthing.(ii)


Formed Autumn 1939.(iii)


The congregation began to decline by the early 1970's and, although efforts were made from time to time to revive it,(iv) it appears to have ceased activities in the late 1970s or early 1980s.(v)

A later short-lived attempt to revive the congregation was made in 1997.(viii)


Initially Ashkenazi Orthodox, although the revival of the congregation in the late 1990s appears to have been non-denominational.(ix)



(To view a short profile of a minister, hold the cursor over his name.)

Rabbi Meyer Gordon - rabbi, minister and teacher from 1939 to 1940.(x)

Rabbi William Wolff - held Friday night outreach services in Worthing in 1997, rotating between the congregation and the Eastbourne Progressive Jewish Community.(xi)

War-time Lay Officers:

Elected December 1939(xiv)

Meyer Freedman, President;   P. Taylor, Treasurer;   H. Miller, Warden;   H. Hames, Hon. Secretary


Mrs. H. Phillips - Hon. Secretary in September 1943(xv)

Post-War Lay Officers:

Unless otherwise indicated the following data has been extracted from Jewish Year Books(xvi)


1947-1948 - J. Rothstein

1948-1950 - Leslie W. Cohen


1950-1951 - I. Ashberg

1951-1952 - I. Weissman

1952-1956 - J. Rothstein

1956-1968 - no data

1968-1972 - I. Ashberg

1972-1975 - H. Bernstein

1975-1980s - L. Weiss

1997 - Denzil Sutcliffe(xvii)


1946-1948 - Leslie W. Cohen

1948-1949 - H. Barnard

1949-1950 - J.I. Landau

1950-1952 - L. Cohen

1952-1968 - I. Ashberg

Hon. Secretaries

1945-1948 - Alec Weissmann

1948-1950 - Werner Mark

1950-1953 - Oscar Feuerstein

1953-1968 - I. Ashberg

1968-1975 - B. Goldman


National Reports and Surveys(xx)

1977 - 6 male (or household) members and 6 female members

1983 - 16 male (or household) members and 16 female members

Goring Evacuee Congregation:

During World War II, there was an evacuee congregation in Goring-by-Sea, a neighbourhood of Worthing, which had been organised by Rev. Jonah Indech.(xxi)

Current Association

Association Data


Worthing and District Jewish Community


Social meetings are held at Friends Meeting House, 34 Mill Hill Road, Worthing, BN11 5DR.(xxv)

In addition, two or three Friday night religious services are usually held per year at Worthing Town Hall.(xxvi)


Formed by about 2005.(xxvii)

Current Status:



The membership encompasses a wide range of observance, from Orthodox to secular.



Visiting Chaplains:

The community has been served by visiting chaplains, in particular Rev. Malcolm Weisman, the minister for Small Communities, as well as Rabbi Reuben Livingstone.(xxviii)



Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Worthing Jewish Community



Notable Jewish Connections with Worthing

  • Daniel De Pass (1839-1921) born in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, sugar planter, shipping and guano merchant, had a house at 13 Heene Terrace in Worthing. Portrait

  • Edouard Espinosa (1871-1950), born in Moscow to Spanish Jewish parents, was a ballet dancer and teacher who co-founded the Royal Academy of Dancing and later established the British Ballet Organization. He died at his home in Worthing.

  • Councillor Cecil Herbert (Herbie) Golds, became the first Jewish Mayor of Worthing, 1995-6.

  • David Jacobs CBE (1926-2013), TV and radio broadcaster, host of Juke Box Jury, chair of Any Questions, etc. is listed as a notable former resident of Worthing. However, his last address was at Fittleworth, a village about 15 miles north of the town.

  • Harold Pinter CH CBE (1930-2008), Nobel Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, lived in Ambrose Place, Worthing, 1962-1964. A Blue Plaque commemorates his time there.

  • Katie Price, media personality and former glamour model, owns a house in Goring-on-Sea. Her maternal grandmother was Jewish. 

  • Joseph Edward (Teddy) Sieff (1905-1982), resident of St Johns Wood London, chairman of Marks & Spencer (1967-1972), Zionist leader, owned a country estate near Worthing and was a member of the Worthing Hebrew congregation in the 1960s.

  • Sir Frederick Claude Stern (1884-1967), born into the Stern banking family, a botanist, from 1909 developed Highdown Gardens to the west of Worthing town centre, on the site of a former chalk quarry. After his death the gardens were bequeathed to Worthing borough council. Stern was awarded the Military Cross in World War I and served as private secretary to Prime Minister Lloyd George at the Paris Peace conference in 1919. In 1956 he was knighted for his services to horticulture. View Discovering the Sterns of Highdown on the Jewish Country Houses website, hosted by the University of Oxford, and an illustrated timeline about the Stern family and Worthing on the Highdown Gardens website.


Other Worthing Jewish Institutions & Organisations

  • Worthing Jewish Social and Literary Society - formed in December 1939.(xxix)


Community Records


Worthing Jewish Population Data


20 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1959)


90 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1969)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Jewish Chronicle article of 2 March 2023.

  • (ii) Although the Heene Hall address was listed in Jewish Year Books from 1948 through 1955, address in Elm Grove appeared in a Jewish Chronicle reports of 6 October 1939 and 10 November 1939.

  • (iii) Jewish Chronicle reports of 6 October 1939 and 10 November 1939.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle report of 15 June 1973.

  • (v) Although the congregation continued to be listed in Jewish Year Books until 1988, it probably ceased activities some years earlier. The last reported change of any officer (the chairman) in Jewish Year Books was in 1976.

  • (vi) and (vii) Reserved.

  • (viii) Jewish Chronicle report of 18 April 1997.

  • (ix) Based upon the nature of the visiting ministers mentioned in thwJewish Chronicle report of 18 April 1997.

  • (x) Jewish Chronicle report of 15 December 1939.

  • (xi) Jewish Chronicle report of 18 April 1997 Rev. Malcolm Weisman, the Orthodox minister to small communities, was also a visiting minister in this period.

  • (xii) and (xiii) Reserved.

  • (xiv) Jewish Chronicle report of 15 December 1939.

  • (xv) Jewish Chronicle report of 10 September 1943.

  • (xvi) Where a person is first listed in a Jewish Year Book as holding a particular officer, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book (which was generally towards the end of the year prior to year appearing the the title of the year book) and that the officer continued in such office until the commencement of office of his successor (e.g. if he is listed in Jewish Year Books 1950 through 1953, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1949 and continued in office until 1953). However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and accordingly his actual years of office may differ slightly from those shown here. Generally, after 1956 Jewish Year Books ceased listing more than one lay officer per congregation (usually the secretary).

  • (xvii) Jewish Chronicle report of 18 April 1997.

  • (xviii) and (xix) Reserved.

  • (xx) 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.

  • (xxi) Jewish Chronicle obituary of Rabbi Indech, dated 5 February 1999. To view a short profile of Rabbi Indech - hold the cursor over his name.

  • (xxii) to (xxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxv) This is the address listed in Jewish Year Books from 2011 (no address previously shown) and is the address provided on the website of the Sussex Jewish Representative Council, accessed August 2022.

  • (xxvi) Website of the Sussex Jewish Representative Council, accessed August 2022.

  • (xxvii) Based upon first being listed in the Jewish Year Book 2006.

  • (xxviii) Rev. Weisman is listed in all Jewish Year Books from 2006 to 2015 (the last edition published), except for 2013, which names Rabbi Livingstone.

  • (xxix) Jewish Chronicle report of 15 December 1939.

  • (xxx) Previous Registration District: Worthing from 1 April 1935 until 1 April 2010. All records would now be held by the current office.

World War II Evacuee Communities

Jewish Congregations in West Sussex

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 2 May 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 28 August 2022
Page most recently amended: 17 March 2024

Research David Shulman and Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman

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