Situated in the fashionable Holland Park district of West London, Holland Park Synagogue is one of the most beautiful examples of traditional Jewish elegance and design found. The architecture of the main Synagogue building, built in 1928, is based on the design of the famous Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London, which was the first Synagogue to be built in England in the 1700s.
The Community was founded in the early 20th Century by Sephardic Jews from various parts of the declining Turkish Empire (Isnia & Istanbul) who travelled to London to build a better life for themselves and their families.
In 1908 the Franco-British Exhibition was held to celebrate the Entente Cordiale treaty and a large Jewish community were amongst the eight million visitors who flocked to the area to visit and do business. By the start of the First World War in 1914 there were some eight hundred Jewish families who shared a common minhag (custom) and began to hold religious services together. The earliest of these services were held firstly above a Tobacconist’s and then in a Boys’ Scouts hut. The first High Holy Day Services were held in Holborn Town Hall in 1914.
Shortly after this, a nucleus of dedicated members began searching for their own permanent premises and embarked on a fund raising programme. However, it wasn’t until 1924 that enough money had been raised to purchase the plot of land upon which the Synagogue currently stands at 8 St James’s Gardens.
The land was purchased and then sold on to Bevis Marks, who leased it back for a period of 999 years. The Holland Park community have therefore remained under their religious auspices to this day. A bequest of £5000 was subsequently received from the estate of Sir Sassoon David, a huge sum of money that, together with a further bequest a few years later, allowed the synagogue to be built free of debt. The synagogue is named after this great benefactor.
As a Community we are keen to honour the memory of those no longer with us. We have a beautiful memorial book in the Foyer and many of the Synagogue’s most distinguished passed members are remembered on Memorial Plaques: