A yeshivah launching - in Kent?

Princess Diana went to boarding school there and it boasts one of the oldest cricket grounds in the land.

But could Sevenoaks in Kent be about to have a new claim to fame: as the south-east's answer to Gateshead?

A new yeshivah for boys of 16 and 17 has opened about three miles from the centre of town. Notices around the strictly Orthodox synagogues of Stamford Hill, north London, over the past few weeks have been inviting students to leave the inner city for the more tranquil setting in the North Downs.

One of the yeshivah's main backers was reluctant to disclose details. "We've got no interest in being mentioned in the Jewish Chronicle," he declared.

But one of Stamford Hill's leading educational figures, Rabbi Avraham Pinter, of the Yesodey Hatorah schools, said: "The community is growing and there is a demand for yeshivahs. Many parents are reluctant to send their children abroad because yeshivahs have become mammoth. In a single Litvish [Lithuanian-style] yeshivah, you can find more students than the combined total of students of all the students in pre-war Lithuania."

"There also may be a particular issue that Gateshead is trying to retain its ethos as a Litvish yeshivah," he added. "They have put a quota on the number of Chasidishe bochurim [boys]." Most of Stamford Hill's strictly Orthodox community belong to Chasidic groups.

Last updated: 12:31pm, September 8 2011