English Heritage has published Jewish Heritage in England, the first ever comprehensive guidebook to England's historic synagogues and sites.
Jewish Heritage in England, published in association with Jewish Heritage, celebrates in full colour the architectural heritage of 350 years of the Jewish community, the oldest non-Christian minority in England. It is based on the authoritative Survey of the Jewish Built Heritage carried out with the support of English Heritage, but appears at a time when Anglo-Jewry has shrunk in size by almost a third and congregations have abandoned urban centres, leaving some of the country's most spectacular religious architecture with an uncertain future. English Heritage's Inspired! campaign launched last summer (see below) aims to secure a future for historic places of worship of all faiths, including synagogues as well as churches.
Jewish Heritage in England covers more than 300 sites organised on a region-by-region basis, ranging from Britain's oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London, through the Georgian gems of the West Country to the splendid High Victorian "cathedral synagogues" of Birmingham, Brighton and Liverpool. Heritage trails around former Jewish quarters of the major cities are featured, beginning with the East End of London. Relics of Anglo-Jewry's medieval past are explored in York, Lincoln and Norwich and venerable burial grounds with Hebrew inscriptions are found in the unlikeliest of places. Curious oddities not to be missed include a 19th century private penthouse synagogue in Brighton and an Egyptian style Mikveh [ritual bath] in Canterbury. A valuable appendix covers Jewish sites elsewhere in the UK, in Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, and in the Irish Republic.
The book's author, Dr Sharman Kadish (Director of Jewish Heritage), said, "England's historic synagogues express the stability of Jewish life in this country, which we are celebrating this year, the 350th year since the re-establishment of the Jewish community in England (1656-2006)."