History

  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Introduction)

    Mill Hill United Synagogue was founded in 1949, by a small group of Jewish residents who lived in the Mill Hill district. Use the links below to follow the story of the development and growth of the community - from the establishment of the first shul through to the latest redevelopment which involved the building of the Ner Orre Community Centre.

    Chronology
    1. WATFORD WAY
    2. SYLVAN AVENUE: ESTABLISHMENT
    3. SYLVAN AVENUE: GROWTH
    4. BROCKENHURST GARDENS
    5. STATION ROAD
    6. NER ORRE

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  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Part 6)
    6. "NER ORRE” COMMUNITY CENTRE

    In 2003,by which time the Synagogue membership had grown to over 1500 members, the then Chairman of the Board of Management , Mr Sam Kuperberg, conceived the building of a new multi-purpose Community Centre, to replace the Communal Hall in Brockenhurst Gardens (now having outlived its originally projected life by 100% ) and to provide adequate space not only for our vastly increased membership ,but also for further Communal development in the years ahead.

    He asked Mr Jeffrey Pinnick, to once again take on the role of Project Co-ordinator. The Board chose a firm of local Architects and settled on the concept of a uniquely designed, octagonal shaped building. This would comprise a replacement for the Annie and Samuel Levy Hall, which would seat 240 people for a dinner function and over 600 for supplementary High Holyday services on the upper ground floor, and a second hall/multi-variable room facility on the lower ground floor, for meetings, classrooms, youth activities etc. The total cost of the project was in excess of £3m. 

    In 2006, the United Synagogue was once again approached to provide the funding for the development, but on this third occasion, were constrained into only being able to advance a loan equal to the sum pledged and paid by Synagogue members. A major fund-raising programme was initiated under Mr Kuperberg’s Chairmanship and continued by successor Chairmen, namely Mr John Krieger, Mr Jerome Reback and finally Mr Michael Goldstein. Eventually, after enduring lengthy delays in the planning process and the effects of economic recession, the necessary funds and pledges were raised, building work commenced and final completion of this magnificent project achieved early in 2013.
     

    To acknowledge the decision to go ahead with the redevelopment of the Annie and Samuel Levy Hall, a Groundbreaking Ceremony was held. You can see photos of this event below:
     

     

    The video below is from November 2012 when chairmain Michael Goldstein presented a tour around the construction site of the Ner Orre Community Centre, which includes the new Annie & Samuel Levy Hall.
     



    Here are some photos of the redevelopment project:
     



    On 10th March 2013, ”The Ner Orre Community Centre”, was endowed by long-standing members Mr and Mrs Stanley Davis and incorporated the Annie and Samuel Levy Hall (re-endowed by Lord Levy), providing a magnificent Function Hall facility; a Synagogue facility for the High Holydays; and kitchens on the first floor, with multi-purpose meeting rooms, kindergarten and classrooms and kitchens on the lower floor. 

     


    Rt Hon Tony Blair and Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub officially opened our Ner Orre Community Centre and The Annie & Samuel Levy Hall at a special opening ceremony that took place on Monday 11 March 2013.
    A full report is available here.


    Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet introduced special guest Rt Hon Tony Blair:
     

     

    Time lapse photography recording the final preparations and the opening events of the Ner Orre Community Centre.
    The accompanying music is performed by the Neimah Singers and soloists from the opening ceremony.



     


     
    << Part 5 <<     Overview 
  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Part 5)
    5. SYNAGOGUE IN STATION ROAD 

    In the late 1960’s, the Community resolved to embark on its most ambitious expansion to date, to erect a purpose built synagogue, seating over 400 members, on the site of the original house at No 1 Sylvan Avenue.

    This project was conceived by the then Board of Management and initiated by a leading member of the Synagogue Mr Bertie Webber and co-ordinated by the then Financial Representative, Mr Jeffrey Pinnick.

    A member of the Community, Mr John Katten, an Architect, was engaged to design and oversee the construction of the new self contained 3 storey building. This was to comprise a Synagogue and ladies gallery on the first and second floors, with beis hamedrash, classrooms and offices on the ground floor.

    FUNDRAISING LEAFLET: click here to view

    The total cost of the entire building project (including professional fees and loan interest) was app £35,000 (!). The United Synagogue on this occasion, agreed to advance a loan to meet the entire cost, subject to the Community backing this support with pledges for at least one-half of the amount. The response from the membership to this exciting development was very positive and pledges of support for the one-half contribution over a 10 year period, were received in a very short space of time.

    The Social and Functions Committee took upon itself the main responsibility for raising the remaining amount needed to repay the United Synagogue over the stipulated period. It did in fact meet that commitment, primarily by holding major events such as New Year’s Eve Dinner Dances, initially at major London hotels; Quiz / Social evenings; and other fund-raising events, including a unique Donkey Derby race day (never to be forgotten, by those attending in the teeming rain and ankle deep mud !). It’s greatest and most long lasting and best remembered of all Synagogue financial and social successes, were the “Mannickins” Old Time Music Hall extravaganzas. 

    The Synagogue was formally consecrated on Sunday 28th November 1971. The Chief Rabbi Dr E. Jakobovitz honoured us with his presence, as we were with the presence of the Mayor of Barnet, visiting clergy of many denominations, Mr Levin and Mr Frosh representing the United Synagogue and clergy and representatives of many neighbouring Synagogues. Rev Korn once again led the service, assisted by the Hendon Synagogue choir, under the direction of Mr Lionel Leigh. 

    The building was formally opened by Mr Bertie Webber, who was presented with its “Golden Key” in recognition of his amazing efforts and support for the project.

    HA'OR MAGAZINE: click here to view





    The Community continued to grow and prosper. Several members of the Congregation held leading Honorary roles in Anglo Jewry’s Communal Institutions and Charities, amongst them being President of the United Synagogue; Treasurer of the United Synagogue, Treasurer of the Board of Deputies; Chairman of WIZO; Chairman / President of Jewish Care; Chairman / President of JFS, Chairman of AJEX, Chairman of the Zionist Federation and many other Communal, Religious and Charitable organisations. 



    In 1993 Rabbi Cutler retired and was succeeded by Rabbi Schochet. This appointment, together with his wife Chani as Rebbetzin, heralded the beginning of both a new generation of religious leadership, which itself attracted a further influx of new, mostly younger generation members and the exciting onward development of the Community, into the digital and social media age of the 21st century .



    On the 17th June 1999, the Community celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a celebration Dinner.




     
    << Part 4 <<     Overview     >> Part 6 >> 
  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Part 4)
    4. BROCKENHURST GARDENS

    In 1959, a “temporary prefabricated arched roofed” single storey building was purchased for approx £15,000 and erected in the garden of the house in Sylvan Avenue, with its entrance being in Brockenhurst Gardens. Two members of the Board of Management, Mr R Epps and Mr H Walters, were primarily involved in the conception and given responsibility for the oversight of this development. 



    In June 1959, the Synagogue engaged its first full-time Minister Reverend (later to be Rabbi) Shlomo Cutler, who together with his wife Rebbetzin Judith Cutler, served the Community faithfully and most effectively for the next 33 years.

    The new building was used as a multi purpose Synagogue and Community Centre and comprised :

    Synagogue / Hall, Classrooms on the ground floor and Offices on a mezzanine floor above the entrance. The two storey original brick building on the site now adjoined the new building. The ground floor garage was converted into a kitchen and the flat on the first floor, was used by the newly engaged full-time Caretaker Mrs Gazely, her husband and family. She was to remain with the Community for over 25 years.

    This building was officially consecrated as a Synagogue on 15th May 1960. Dayan Swift carried out the consecration ceremony and at the same ceremony, officially inducted Reverend Cutler as Minister. The membership by this time had grown to 238 family and 38 female members.







    This “temporary building” was originally intended to have a “shelf life “ of maximum 25 years, but served the Community magnificently for over 50 years, even having a modernisation effected in 1975, when it was remodelled as the “Samuel Levy Hall” and dedicated in memory of the late father of our member Michael (later Lord) Levy and consecrated as such on 7th December 1975 by Dayan Swift. Following further enhancement, on 25th March 1990 the then Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits  reconsecrated the Hall as the “Annie and Samuel Levy Hall”, named after both the beloved parents of our member Michael (later Lord) Levy.

    In its “extended lifetime” the building not only housed the Synagogue, which after the building of the new purpose built Synagogue in 1971 then became used for the additional High Holyday services, but also the Cheder and Kindergarten.

    Other Communal and Social activities held there, included the vibrant and ever expanding Youth Club and what for many years became the largest and best attended Jewish Bridge Club in London. A long established and renowned Friendship Club and later a JACS club, became major Community attractions.

    Social activities over the years, included New Year’s Eve dinner dances; barn dances; quizzes; the amazing “Mannickins” audience participation, Old Tyme musical extravaganzas and dinners; racing nights; poker evenings; jumble sales; film shows; concerts; talks and AGM’s. And of course, wedding, bar/bat mitzvot celebrations, as well as Chanukah and Purim parties and the renowned Ladies Guild prepared, weekly Shabbat kiddushim, to name but a FEW !

    But the one unforgettable event, which has and will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of all who had the privilege to attend, was the meeting held shortly after the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in October 1973. The Community came together as one, as the future of the State of Israel lay in the balance. It opened its hearts and its purses to an unparalleled extent, in support of our then endangered brothers and sisters.

    Our Community had and continues to have very close ties with the State of Israel, Many members or members of their family have made aliyah; others have holiday homes there and many others pay regular visits, as well as holidaying there  The Synagogue has always had a vibrant Israel Committee and has organised many fact-finding Missions. Several Ambulances have been donated by individual members and by the Community itself. Our Community can be particularly proud that it was one of the earliest and foremost in the UK, in its support of the Israeli War Disabled organisation, having visiting disabled soldiers as guests in their homes and accompanying them during their holiday recuperation visits to the UK. Our Community hold annual Yom HaShoah and Yom Hazikaron commemoration services and Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration parties.
     
     
    << Part 3 <<     Overview     >> Part 5 >> 
  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Part 3)
    3. GROWTH AT SYLVAN AVENUE

    By 1952 the membership had risen to 75 families. Hebrew classes were held, as well as a Youth Club, which was started by two sons of members.  












    In addition to the Ladies Guild and Function Committee, Education and Membership Committees had been formed and all were thriving, as was the Community. A Marquee was hired for the High Holyday services, held in the grounds of the premises.


    Rev Jakob was succeeded in 1953, by Rev I Abrams as part-time Minister.



    On 26th June 1955, the Synagogue was formally consecrated by Dayan Lew. Assisted by the Minister of the Synagogue Rev I. Abrams and Chazan Reverend Taub, together with the Jewish Male Voice Choir.

    The Synagogue was formally opened by Mr I. Burke, the Founder of the congregation and former Warden-President, who was presented with the Key with which he opened the Synagogue and with an engraved Silver Cigarette box by Mr I Brill, a then current Warden, in appreciation of his services to the Community. 

     
     




















    A reception for many visiting dignatories and members was held in a marquee in the grounds and the event was summed up by one of the Founders, who was quoted as saying “They came from far and wide. It was our day and what a day it was. We held our heads up high, we had achieved our aim. We were entitled to be proud and we were”

    Even at this stage, the Board of Management were discussing building a purpose built Synagogue/Hall in the garden space, with its entrance in Brockenhurst Gardens.



     

     
    << Part 2 <<     Overview     >> Part 4 >> 
  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Part 2)
    2. ESTABLISHMENT OF SYLVAN AVENUE

    Since its formation and the subsequent steady increase in membership, the Board had decided to find a permanent building to be used as a Synagogue. In September 1951, following a lengthy process culminating in a successful appeal by the United Synagogue to obtain planning permission for the property to be used as a Synagogue, the Congregation acquired a freehold property:
    “Whyteleafe”, 1 Sylvan Avenue, Mill Hill, for £7,500. This had previously been the large home of a member of the WD & HO Will’s family, of “Wills” cigarettes and later “Imperial Tobacco” fame. 


    The United Synagogue agreed to advance a loan of one half of the amount towards its purchase and the balance was found by way of a loan from Martins Bank. The latter had to be personally guaranteed by the Founders. The property comprised a house with its entrance in Sylvan Avenue and garden which extended back onto Brockenhurst Gardens and a separate 2 storey building (garage and upper flat) at the rear of the garden, bordering Brockenhurst Gardens. 
     


    A Function Committee was formed to raise money for the building and its conversion and Dances, Boxing matches etc were organised.



    In 1952, the property was converted into a Synagogue, (accommodating seating for approx 50 men and 25 women) and offices on the ground floor and a flat for the Part-time Minister on the upper floor. This flat later became converted into a “Guildroom” meeting/function hall and Classrooms. 










    An Ark was designed and donated by the Webber family (which is still in use in the enlarged Beth Hamedresh in the new Station Road Synagogue building) and regular Shabbat services were held in the Synagogue. The Ladies Guild provided curtains for the Synagogue and a curtain for the Ark. A new Sefer Torah, as well as its Silver and  Mantles were donated. 6 stained glass windows, were presented by the families of six members, Messrs Epps, Grant, Green, Morris, Sherman and Walters (some of which still adorn the entrance to the Station Road Synagogue). Boards comprising prayers for the Royal Family and the State of Israel were also donated, amongst many other items.


    Synagogue seats had been allocated to Members offering a £5 donation per seat, with their names being engraved on plaques at the end of the rows.



     

     
    << Part 1 <<     Overview     >> Part 3 >> 
  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Part 1)
    1. PRAYERS AT 584 WATFORD WAY

    A group of “Founding Members”, decided to establish a Synagogue in Mill Hill, at a meeting in the home of Mr and Mrs J Nathan at 584 Watford Way, Mill Hill, on 20th June 1949.       

    The group primarily comprised, Messrs D.Brill, I.Burke, W.Freedman, P.Goulden, M.Grant, N.Green, V.Landau, M.Maltz, B.Morris, J.Nathan, A.Sherman, M.Skolnick, H.Walters, B.Webber,

    Shabbat services were initially held in the house of Mr and Mrs J Nathan at 584 Watford Way Mill Hill. 



    The Founder members supplied a cupboard which was converted into an Ark, carpets for the Belamah, a table and draping for the readers Desk and curtains for the Ark. Sifrei Torah were borrowed.

    Wives of the Founders formed a Ladies Guild and helped organise various small functions both to raise money and recruit additional members.

    The High Holyday services in 1949 were held in Hartley Hall and 30 tickets were issued to attending members.

    The Synagogue became an Affiliated Member of the United Synagogue after the High Holydays in 1949 and subsequently became a full Constituent Member.

    Reverend L Jakob was engaged as the Community’s part-time minister in 1949.
     
     
    Chronology     Overview     >> Part 2 >> 
  • Mill Hill Synagogue: A History (Chronology)
    CHRONOLOGY

    1949
    Community Founded June 1949
    First premises used for services, 584 Watford Way, Mill Hill
    First Part-tme Officiant Rev L.Jakob 1949

    1951
    House in Sylvan Avenue purchased as Synagogue in Sept 1951

    1953
    Rev I Abrams succeeded Rev Jakob in 1953

    1955
    Sylvan Avenue Synagogue consecrated in June 1955.

    1959
    Reverend (later Rabbi) Cutler appointed first full time Minister in 1959
    Brockenhurst Gardens Communal Hall erected in 1959
    Communal Hall Consecrated in May 1960.

    1971
    Synagogue in Station Road built in 1970/71 and consecrated in Nov 1971

    1975
    Communal Hall 1st “modernisation” in 1975 and reconsecrated in December 

    1990
    Communal Hall 2nd “modernisation” in 1990 and reconsecrated in March 1990

    1993
    Rabbi Cutler retired in 1993 and was succeeded by Rabbi Schochet

    2013
    “Ner Orre” Community Centre, in Station Road, was built in 2011/12 and consecrated in March 2013.

     
     
    Overview     >> Part 1 >> 
  • You may also be interested in
    Location
    The shul postcode is NW7 2JU, located off Mill Hill Broadway.

    Contact
    Different ways of contacting us, as well as details about the shul office.

    Personnel
    Details about some of the people who are involved in the running of the shul.

    Gallery
    Find out about some of the past events that have been taking place in our community, and check out the many photos we have collected.

    Publications
    A collection of some of our printed material that has been made available for download

    Ner Orre Community Centre
    The Ner Orre Community Centre and Annie & Samuel Levy Hall - now one of North West London's premier function venues.