Listed East End synagogue is restored—after 107 years

WORK has been completed on urgent repairs to an Edwardian synagogue in London’s East End that has survived by the skin of its teeth. The Congregation of Jacob has had to have an urgent structural makeover’ on the stone facia

By Mike Brooke

WORK has been completed on urgent repairs to an Edwardian synagogue in London’s East End that has survived by the skin of its teeth.

The Congregation of Jacob in Stepney, one of the last three synagogues in the East End still functioning, has had to have an urgent structural makeover’ on the stone facia of the historic building fronting the Commercial Road.

The biggest task was to stabilise the structure which was in danger of crumbling. Work already completed includes the restoration of the upstairs gallery.

The Congregation of Jacob was founded in 1903 by Morris Koenigsberg and Abraham Schwalbe for first generation immigrants from Poland, Lithuania and Russia, mainly Orthodox Jews from small shtetls or villages.

It has managed to hang on to its congregation, five generations and more than a century later, as the once thriving East End Jewish community moved away to more affluent areas of London.


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But the race was on when surveyors in 2001 found the structure badly needing repair if it was to be saved for future generations.

The work was paid for with grants from the Veolia Environmental Trust, the World Monuments Fund, Jewish Heritage and Heritage of London.

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Even the Rothschild Foundation chipped in for a building survey, while the small congregation itself raised �30,000.

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