August 11, 2007

Landmark synagogue in the UK listed as a protected historic building

From World Jewish Congress:

A synagogue in the UK has been recognized as one of the country’s most important buildings. The New West End Synagogue in Bayswater, London, has been given a ‘Grade I’ listing putting it in the top three per cent of the country’s historic buildings. “The New West End Synagogue is the architectural high-water mark of Anglo-Jewish architecture,” Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage said.

When it opened, in 1879, the Synagogue was a major statement on behalf of London’s Jewish community. Older 19th-century synagogues had been built to look like Christian churches, or the buildings that surrounded them, as if their designers were reluctant to draw attention to them. But by the late 1870s, leaders of the Jewish community in London’s West End felt more secure. Most official forms of anti-Jewish discrimination had been lifted. It was 20 years since the law began allowing practicing Jews to become MPs, an anglicized Jew, Benjamin Disraeli, was Prime Minister, and most of London’s congregations were joined under the United Synagogue.

The New West End Synagogue is the second synagogue in the UK to receive a Grade 1 listing. The other is the UK’s oldest synagogue, the Bevis Marks, opened in 1701 in Bishops-gate, London.