top of page

Islington Jewish Heritage Trail is Open!

Updated: May 28

'Islington is a place for each of us to feel at home and to thrive'

On Thursday, 23rd of May, people came to the Islington Town Hall to celebrate the rich Jewish history in Islington and its landmarks by the unveiling of the Islington Jewish Heritage Trail.

Islington was once one of the most prominent Jewish communities in the UK, yet the last local synagogue closed in 1967. The establishment of Chabad Lubavitch of Islington in 2011 has revived Jewish life in the borough. The Islington Jewish Heritage Trail integrates the story of the Jewish community into the wider story of Islington. You can discover how a migrant and religious minority community contributed to the borough and shaped the identity and heritage of the city and the nation as a whole.

Rabbi Mendy Korer of Chabad Islington, who coordinated the project said:

'There are so many ways to foster better community relationships and create a welcoming society. The Chabad way is by creating a confident, accepting and meaningful environment. Launching this project, especially as we are at such a delicate time in society, is an opportune moment for Jews of Islington to feel welcome and know that this Borough belongs to you, this is your home.

'As an example, the stories of the people in the ‘Refugees’ section cover anyone and everyone of our family, of our heritage, of our survival, which all took place here in the Borough of Islington. Susi, like my own grandmother, fled to London from Nazi persecution and then sent to Isle of Man where they possibly met, or like Abraham who we don’t know what happens to him other than he comes to Islington who fled from Ukrainian programs. Does he survive in Islington? Does he thrive in Islington? At what point does he feel that Islington is his home? And finally, we have Rebecca Furtado who flees Portuguese inquisition to the safety of Islington, and her grandson becomes the Prime Minister, none other than Benjamin Disraeli.

'These three people alone create the testament of Jewish survival and belonging in each and every place we go. Islington is a place for each of us to feel at home and to thrive.'

A special mention of thanks was given to Islington Council officers, Cheryl Smith, Head of Heritage for providing invaluable support and quality control for the project and to Andrew Bedford from the Environment Department on having 12 plaques installed on lampposts across the Borough.

Petra Laidlaw, lead project researcher and historian, emphasised how the project displays the wide range of people and varied backgrounds of the Jews that lived in the borough.

Pam Marchand, who happened to be visiting from New Zealand and grew up living in the basement flat of the North London Synagogue on Lofting Road shared memories of the grand building that felt like a palace 'with a large circular banister, which I won't say if I slid down without permission'.

Anthony Rau shared memories of his grandfather David Gestetner and what Jewish life was like in the Highbury New Park neighbourhood in the 1900's up to the second World War.

Mayor of Islington, Councillor Anjna Khurana, who formally opened the trail, said:

'The trail celebrates the rich Jewish history in Islington and shares stories of Jews that lived, worked and thrived in our Borough over the past 300 hundred years. Stories include people from all walks of life and background, coming from different Jewish origins, prime ministers to musicians, prisoners to refugees.

'As Mayor of Islington, I hereby declare the Islington Jewish Heritage Trail as open!'

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jason Jackson, other Councillors, representatives from Islington Police and the London Metropolitan Archives and members of the public joined the event, and were delighted to be served refreshing kosher ice cream. One attendee, John Angel, afterwards said how impressed he was with the Islington Jewish Heritage Trail 'It is so interesting and such a great addition for the London Jewish Community, all the more valuable in these times. I so love untold stories!'

Untold Stories is a £1m Mayor of London fund to help communities test, develop, create and grow projects that share their community’s stories with the city. In 2021, Art UK published the first comprehensive audit of public sculpture across the capital, revealing huge disparities in representation.

Untold Stories is supporting 70 projects across the city. Projects include a ‘walk of fame’ celebrating the role of Irish and Pakistani workers in Cricklewood; an augmented reality map highlighting Poplar’s hidden histories; a new mural in Croydon created by and for learning disabled artists; and new walking tours that offer a homeless perspective of London’s streets.

Of the entire Mayor of London's Untold Stories scheme, the Islington Jewish Heritage Trail is the only one to be delivered in the Borough of Islington. The project has been delivered by our only local Jewish synagogue and community Centre, Chabad Lubavitch of Islington.

Mapping and design was made by Footways who promote the many positive benefits of a 20-minute brisk walk a day.

The Islington Jewish Heritage Trail can be explored here:

295 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page