The Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, London

sp-logoSir Moses was devoted to his Congregation, Kahal Kadosh Sha’ar Hashamayim, and prayed regularly in its synagogue at Bevis Marks in the City of London.
He occupied most of the honorary positions in the Congregation and its associated charities at one time or another; and he served as President of its Board of Elders for very many years. The minhag and services of his own synagogue in Ramsgate were closely modelled on those of Bevis Marks; and Sir Moses left careful instructions that this was to continue without alteration in perpetuity.

Established by a handful of Marrano families in 1656, when Oliver Cromwell tacitly admitted the Jews to England, the Congregation’s first synagogue in Creechurch Lane in the City of London was succeeded by the present building in adjacent Bevis Marks. Opened in 1701, the Bevis Marks Synagogue can sadly boast of being the only one in Europe that has been open continuously for worship since that date.


sermonThe Congregation now maintains three synagogues, the original in Bevis Marks, one close to Maida Vale (Lauderdale Road) in the West End of London and the other in Wembley. Other Sephardi synagogues in London and Manchester maintain close links with the ‘mother’ congregation and some accept its ecclesiastical authority.

Associated with the Congregation are its Beth Din, Sephardi Kashrut Authority, Edinburgh House (Home for Old People), Naima Jewish Preparatory School, Cemeteries and a host of charities of many different kinds – including some founded by Sir Moses Montefiore himself. The Congregation is also a partner in the London Board for Shechita.

Sir Moses would have been proud of the service hosted by his Congregation for the entire Anglo-Jewish Community at Bevis Marks in 2007 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the tacit readmission of the Jews to England (when the Congregation was founded). Ever a keen loyalist, he might have been amused by the expression on the Prime Minister’s face when he realised that the assembled congregation was singing God Save the Queen to Hebrew words. The video clip attached contains some brief extracts from that service.

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