Kent House, Rutland Gardens, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1BX |
|Affiliation||Independent Progressive Judaism|
|Leadership||Rabbi Thomas Salamon|
|Part of a series on|
|Jews and Judaism|
The Westminster Synagogue is a non-affiliated Jewish Reform synagogue and congregation near Hyde Park, London. It is located in Kent House, a restored Victorian town house in Knightsbridge. The building, which dates from the late 1800s, also houses the Czech Memorial Scrolls Centre.
The congregation was founded in 1957 by Rabbi Harold Reinhart, who resigned from his position as Senior Minister of the West London Synagogue and, accompanied by 80 former members of that synagogue, established the New London Synagogue. Shortly afterwards it was renamed Westminster Synagogue.
The congregation's earliest services were held at Caxton Hall, Westminster, from whose location the Synagogue derives its name. In 1960 the congregation acquired Kent House opposite Hyde Park in Knightsbridge. The building provided room for a synagogue, accommodation for congregational activities and a flat for the rabbi.
Westminster Synagogue has, in religious terms, remained largely in tune with the Reform movement in Britain. Although not affiliated to the Movement for Reform Judaism, Westminster Synagogue is served by the Movement's Bet Din and has links with the West London Synagogue's burial facilities. The congregation does not have a system of seat rentals and aims to give equality to all members. Women play a full part in congregational life.
Rabbi Reinhart died in 1969 and was succeeded by Rabbi Chaim Stern. Rabbi Stern's tenure was brief and he was succeeded by Rabbi Albert Friedlander in 1971. Rabbi Friedlander, who retired in 1997, combined his ministry for some years with his post as Director of Rabbinical Studies at the Leo Baeck College.
The current rabbi of the community, Rabbi Thomas Salamon, succeeded in 1997. He has previously served as Associate Rabbi at West London Synagogue (1972–1975). In 2014, Rabbi Salamon was awarded a doctorate from the University of Budapest in 2014.
Memorial Scrolls Trust
Westminster Synagogue has been closely involved with the Memorial Scrolls Trust, which holds and cares for a collection of scrolls collected from Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia during the Second World War by the Jewish Museum of Prague. This collection was acquired by Westminster Synagogue in 1964. A small museum in Kent House displays the work of the Trust and tells the history of the scrolls. It is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am to 4 pm (excluding Jewish & public holidays). For further information about the Trust, a comprehensive website is available.
- "Westminster Synagogue". JCR-UK. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Kent House, Knightsbridge". Kent House, Knightsbridge. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Access to Archives: Westminster Synagogue". The National Archives (UK). Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Leo Barnard (2008). "The Czech Memorial Scrolls". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 11 December 2012.