East End shul seeks extended opening

September 11, 2008
Follow The JC on Twitter

Supporters of the historic Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue in London’s East End are looking for a strong turnout over the High Holy-Days to advance their campaign to open the shul on a regular basis.

Although the synagogue has not held services since the major festivals last year, action committee member Raymond Singer believes there is demand for weekly gatherings. The committee is considering options including an approach for Lottery funding.

Fieldgate Street was established in 1899 by Sir Samuel Montagu, the founder of the Federation of Synagogues. The synagogue was badly damaged in the Blitz and rebuilt in 1950. Although few members of the committee still live in the East End, emotional ties and a sense of family history make many unwilling to countenance the shul’s closure.

In Mr Singer’s case, his father was Fieldgate Street’s vice-president. "I had my barmitzvah there, I was married there, my daughter had her batmitzvah there. I certainly don’t want to see it close."

A publicity drive has been launched to maximise attendances at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Beyond that, Mr Singer is hopeful of attracting an influx of younger families, potentially from those moving into Docklands. "We will fight hard to resume normal Shabbat services every week," he said. "That’s our ultimate aim."

    Last updated: 11:07am, September 12 2008