Established in 1887, The Federation was created to serve the needs of immigrant Orthodox Jews in the East End who wanted to adhere to Halocho and retain the spirit of the Eastern European shuls and yeshivos that they had once called home.
Once safely in England and free from the pogroms and persecution of their home towns and villages, the newcomers found it hard to settle in. Feeling uncomfortable in the large, anglicised, established shuls, they began to form new shuls and chevros, many of which were housed in unsuitable conditions and lacked infrastructure and support.
Samuel Montagu MP (later to become the first Lord Swaythling), embarked upon an ambitious and forward-thinking plan to unite these chevros as The Federation of Synagogues.
Montagu, a prosperous banker who was pious and generous as well as practical, realised that the impoverished immigrant Jews could not afford to pay burial fees to the existing burial societies, and formed an affordable Federation Burial Society to meet this need. The Federation thrived, extending its activities to all areas of Jewish life, including raising standards of shechita and providing after-school Jewish education in the era prior to the proliferation of Jewish schools.
Many prominent rabbonim played a leading role in the Federation’s history, including the famed Kamenitzer Maggid (Rav Chaim Zundel Maccoby), Rav Elya Lopian and Rav Myer Jung.
Within half a century the pre-eminent Anglo-Jewish Historian Cecil Roth was able to write:
“..The Federation of Synagogues is…amongst the greatest and most generous Jewish religious organisations in the world. By its insistence on traditional values and by its deep sympathy with every Jewish cause, it has swung itself into the mainstream of Jewish history.”
Today, the Federation comprises a network of 17 constituent and 11 affiliated communities. However, its impact extends far beyond its member shuls. The Federation’s Beis Din, Kashrus and Kehilla Services are widely respected and relied upon by Orthodox Jews in England and across the world.
For history publications click here
For Hamaor archives click here
For information on accessing Federation archives click here