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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2999
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1899-2001
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 11.87 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Jewish Memorial Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Jewish Memorial Council was founded in 1919 on the initiative of Sir Robert Waley Cohen, F.C. Stern, Lord Swaythling, and Major Lionel de Rothschild. A public meeting was held in Central Hall, Westminster on 11 June 1919 to approve and undertake a scheme to raise a fund to establish a permanent war memorial to the Jews of the British Empire who had served in the 1914-1918 war. This was applied to the following objectives:

1 The endowment of Jewish religious education;
2 The building and endowment of a Jewish Theological College at Oxford or Cambridge to which, in accordance with the resolution of its Council, the present Jews College (later London School of Jewish Studies) would be transferred;
3 The making of further provision for the Jewish ministry.

The first Council meeting was held in November 1919. Although the second objective was never achieved, the Jewish Memorial War Council (renamed Jewish Memorial Council in 1931) was able to promote Jewish religious education and welfare with a great variety of activities. Hebrew classes throughout the country were inspected and encouraged.

The Council administered the Synagogue Provident and Pensions Fund, which was a superannuation fund for all congregational officials in the British Commonwealth. In 1923 the Union of Jewish Women presented the Mrs Nathaniel Louis Cohen Library to the Council thus establishing its library. In co-operation with Jews' College and the United Synagogue the Council decided to build a Jewish Communal Centre, Woburn House, which opened in 1932. As well as providing accommodation for Jews' College and office space for all three organisations, it contained two halls for meetings, and the Jewish Museum established in 1932 by Wilfred Samuel and Dr Cecil Roth under the auspices of the Council.

The Council also gave grants to Jews' College and was represented on its Council. In the 1920s-30s it nominated students for admission to Aria College, Southsea, which was intended as a preparatory college for Jews' College. It gave grants for teacher training and established the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education. A Book Department purchased books of Jewish interest and sold them at a discount to synagogues, teachers and students.

The Council awarded grants and scholarships out of its own resources as well as administering other scholarship funds. These included the Cambridge Jewish Exhibition founded in 1899 to assist a needy Jewish student at Cambridge University, the Alfred Louis Cohen Scholarship established in 1904 to assist students preparing for the Jewish Ministry, and the Sir Robert Waley Cohen Memorial Scholarship. Sir Robert was "the principal architect of the Jewish Memorial Council and for over thirty years its presiding genius" (tribute by Dr George Webber, Annual General Meeting of the Jewish Memorial Council 14 July 1977 ACC/2999/A/1/1). He served as Chairman of the Executive Committee from 1919 to 1947 and President of the Council from 1947 until his death in 1952. In his memory his family and friends raised 10,000 to establish the Sir Robert Waley Cohen Memorial Scholarship to provide Jewish ministers from the British Commonwealth with travelling scholarships to pursue Jewish studies. Reports on their work were to be kept in the Council Library.

After the Second World War the problem of small Jewish communities with insufficient resources to maintain a minister or provide religious education for their children aroused growing concern. In 1948 the Council agreed to set up a Small Communities Committee to give grants to these communities, to visit them and report on their needs. In 1962 the Reverend Malcolm Weisman was appointed visiting minister to small communities whose number continued to increase with the dispersal of the Jewish population from large urban centres to rural areas.

In 1978-79 the Council suffered a financial crisis caused by losses incurred by the bookshop. This necessitated a reduction in the scale of its activities including the transfer of its library to Jews' College, a reduction in the reward of grants and scholarships and the closure of the bookshop. However many aspects of its work continued to flourish, including the Pensions Fund, the Reverend Weisman's assistance to small communities, religious education for Jewish boarders at public schools, and the inspection and advice given to provincial Hebrew classes. This last responsibility was handed over from the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education in 1976.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Jewish Memorial Council, 1899-2001. The archive mainly consists of files and volumes of minutes and working papers. The records of the Reverend Malcolm Weisman are noteworthy for the detail they provide on the survival of Judaism in small, often isolated, communities.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection has been arranged as follows:
ACC/2999/A Administration;
ACC/2999/B Finance;
ACC/2999/C Public Schools Committee;
ACC/2999/D Central Council for Jewish Religious Education;
ACC/2999/E Jewish Committee for H.M. Forces;
ACC/2999/F Reverend Malcolm Weisman;
ACC/2999/G Outside organisations;
ACC/2999/H Audio Visual.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

The archives were deposited from Woburn House initially in 1993.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in multiple accessions between 1992 and 2001.

Allied Materials

Related material:

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 April 2018.

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