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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2712
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1591-2010
Level of description: Collection
View subfonds/series records
Extent: 288.02 linear metres
Name of creator(s): United Synagogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The United Synagogue was established by an Act of Parliament in 1870, to join together the major ashkenazi synagogues in the London area. Its five original constituent synagogues were the Great, Hambro, New, Central and Bayswater Synagogues.

The original aims of the United Synagogue were three-fold. It aimed to provide a financial framework and an overall structure for the increasing number of orthodox synagogues in the London area, also to carry out a large amount of social and philanthropic work in the community at a level that the individual synagogues had found difficult to maintain; some of this social responsibility remained with individual synagogues, but the main activity was centralised under the United Synagogue's Head Office or under its various specially-appointed committees. The third function was to provide religious facilities for the orthodox Jewish community, by assisting in the formation of new congregations as the Jewish population of London moved into new residential areas.

Synagogues were able to select from four different types of membership: Constituent (full) membership is the most expensive, followed by District, then Affiliated and finally Associate membership for synagogues unable to bear the financial burden of higher membership categories. Synagogues were able to apply to upgrade their membership status if they wished.

The government of the United Synagogue is vested in the Council, which consists of Honorary Officers, a small number of life members and a large body of representatives elected by the constituent synagogues.

The United Synagogue maintains very close links with the Chief Rabbi's Office and the Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi), providing financial support for the latter. It also works closely with the Jewish Welfare Board, formerly known as the Jewish Board of Guardians.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the United Synagogue's Head Office, including minutes, agendas, presented papers, printed annual reports and accounts, byelaws and standing orders, papers relating to property, letter books and correspondence, financial accounts, insurance papers, membership papers, records relating to staff, administrative records, photographs, press cuttings, orders of service, Aubrey Newman's files, and papers relating to Soviet Jewry. This material has been catalogued in 20 sub-fonds (ACC/2712/01 to ACC/2712/20).

Also included in this collection are records of the individual member synagogues; these comprise mainly membership records, but there are also administrative and financial records for some synagogues. Records of bodies connected with the United Synagogue to a greater or lesser extent are also included in this collection, such as the Office of the Chief Rabbi, London Beth Din and Beth Hamedrash, the Kashrut Commission and various Jewish friendly societies and charities. The United Synagogue's close links with Anglo-Jewish education are also represented in the collection, including records of individual schools such as the Jews' Free School. These records have been catalogued in 47 separate sub-fonds (ACC/2712/AJE to ACC/2712/WWS). Please see individual sub-fonds for further information.

PLEASE NOTE: Records can only be accessed with the written permission of the depositor. Contact the Chief Executive, United Synagogue.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The original deposit (accession number ACC/2712) was catalogued in 1992. All additional deposits received between 1992 and 2010 have been listed together as a cohesive unit.

The arrangement of the list reflects, as far as possible, the organisation of the United Synagogue; thus it begins with the records of Head Office (ACC/2712/01 - ACC/2712/20), incorporating records of the Chief Rabbi, Beth Din and Kashrut Commission which are all linked very closely with the United Synagogue. These are followed by the records of individual synagogues, institutions and charities, all of which have been given a three-letter identifier (ACC/2712/AJE - ACC/2712/WWS); included here are records relating to Angle-Jewish Education (AJE) and the United Synagogue's Headquarters Staff Association (HSA).

All the records catalogued in 1930 by Cecil Roth which have been deposited at London Metropolitan Archives and are included within the original deposit, have been listed using new reference numbers. These include records of the Great Synagogue (ACC/2712/GTS), Hambro Synagogue (ACC/2712/HBS), Jews' Hospital (ACC/2712/JSH) and the Union of Synagogues (ACC/2712/USY). A note of the old reference numbers has been made alongside the description of the individual items.

For records of the Office of the Chief Rabbi as listed in the Roth Catalogue, please consult lists for ACC/2805. Readers are advised that not all records in the Roth Catalogue have been deposited at London Metropolitan Archives.

Conditions governing access:

Most records of the United Synagogue are available for consultation with the written permission of its Chief Executive. Some, however, are closed to public inspection. This is noted against individual entries.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Reproduction of all material requires the permission of the Chief Executive.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in multiple accessions between 1989 and 2020.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For records of the Office of the Chief Rabbi which have been deposited at London Metropolitan Archives, please consult lists for ACC/2805, for records of the London Beth Din see ACC/3400, and for the Jews' Free School see LMA/4046.

Publication note:

For further information please consult the LMA Information Leaflet: "Records of the Anglo-Jewish Community at London Metropolitan Archives"; available to download here: (URL correct Feb 2010).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Description prepared in March 2010. Updated February 2013, May 2015, December 2020.

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