Redbridge synagogues renew merger talks

Ilford Synagogue and Ilford Federation Synagogue have started new talks about a possible merger.

The congregations have both suffered a drop in numbers as a result of members moving to north-west London and Hertfordshire.

Five years ago, the synagogues started short-lived merger talks after it was revealed that membership at Ilford Synagogue, in Beehive Lane, had fallen dramatically. The United synagogue had also built up a deficit of around £400,000.

Leon Newmark, chairman of the Federation synagogue in Coventry Road, said this week: “I can confirm that talks have restarted but they are at a very early stage. We have had one round-table meeting, which was very amicable and at which we agreed on an independent chairman. Other than that, there is nothing else to say at the moment.”

The Federation congregation numbers about 550 families and is known to be keen on a move because of the small number of Jews now living in the centre of Ilford.

Ilford Synagogue membership has fallen by more than 30 per cent in the last quarter-century, from 1,772 male members in 1985 to 1,183 in 2008.

Two of the other three local US communities have also registered membership falls. Newbury Park’s congregation has dropped from 414 in 1985 to 364 in 2008 while Wanstead and Woodford is down by almost half — from 503 to 278. Clayhall is the only Orthodox synagogue to show a rise, up from 226 to 366.

    Last updated: 12:04pm, July 17 2009