Gefilte fish to gospel: Hackney's moving experience

By Jessica Elgot, March 10, 2011
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Hackney and East London Synagogue has moved into rented premises in London Fields after Hackney's Grade II listed shul in Brenthouse Road was sold to a gospel church.

The shul's new home is in Triangle Road, half-a-mile from its previous Victorian premises, which served the congregation for 120 years. Rev Naftali Tiefenbrun will lead services at the rented building, which has undergone a £100,000 renovation.

But warden Louis Cohen said that although pleased with the Triangle Road property, some community members were concerned about security. "It's not the most salubrious area. We still need to put shutters up and cameras outside.

"They have done a good job in renovating the building but it is quite small. We are told there are a lot of young Jews living in Hackney, Dalston and Shoreditch but I'm not sure they are shul-goers. But if we do get more members, there's room for us to expand."

The synagogue can accommodate 80 people and other features are a communal hall with a 100-plus capacity, a kosher kitchen and disabled access.

Brenthouse Road was sold in 2009 but the community continued to use the downstairs part of the premises for a year. They have held services at a nearby conference centre since October.

Mr Cohen said numbers had remained steady throughout the upheaval. "It was quite a surprise but we did put out a plea to people to keep coming or the community would be in trouble."

Financial representative Stephen Brook added: "We are a friendly and inclusive community where people should feel welcome and not intimidated."

    Last updated: 2:14pm, March 10 2011