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North London Synagogue commemorated

On 4 June 2015 the North London Synagogue was commemorated with the unveiling of Islington People's Plaque on the site of the now-demolished building.

The historic synagogue and its community

During the 18th and 19th centuries Islington had one of the largest Jewish populations in England. In 1868 the North London Synagogue was built on Lofting Road (formerly John Street) in Barnsbury N1, Islington to accommodate the growing Jewish community of North London. It was a relatively affluent congregation; the members were able to raise £16,000 themselves to pay off a loan on the building. Many lived in the Chapel Street, Angel and Upper Street areas nearby.

The building was designed in Italian style and richly decorated with marble, plaster moulded into the shape of plants, coffered beilings and stained glass. The synagogue was of the Ashkenazi Orthodox tradition and was admitted as a Constituent member of the United Synagogue in 1878. The opening of Dalston Synagogue caused a decline in membership and in 1958 the two establishments were amalgamated. The building was demolished in 1958 and later replaced by the current block of flats. The history of the synagogue was written by its last minister, Rabbi Nathan Bergerman.

Application for the commemorative plaque

In 2014 Chabad Lubavitch of Islington applied for a recognition of this significant building by placing a plaque on the current building on Lofting Road. Thanks to an online voting contest open to the general public, the former North London Synagogue, will now have a plaque marking its site. The Borough of Islington announced that the synagogue won the second of three spots in a heated race for the coveted “Islington People’s Plaque.” This plaque commemorates Islington’s first significant migrant community, its synagogue which stood for 90 years, and the congregation that attended the synagogue during that time.

'We moved to Islington 4 years ago with a plan to rebuild the Jewish community,’ says Rabbi Mendy Korer, Director of Chabad Islington. 'We appreciate of all the votes we received last year to have the plaque put up and are very proud to set up a permanent mark of Islington's rich Jewish history.'

'My family were members of the Shul until it closed and my bar mitzvah was the penultimate one celebrated there,’ says Johnny Hoffman, former member of the historic North London Synagogue. 'Also my brother's wedding was the last wedding and my family have very happy memories from those years. We are looking forward very much to the unveiling.’

Islington People's Plaque Unveiling

The official event to celebrate the unveiling of the plaque took place on 4 June 2015. Local dignitaries, historians and members of the synagogue shared their thoughts and inspiration at this historic event.

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