Here are the contents of a briefing
letter written by my father on December 18, 1981, to Rabbi A. Cohen of
Craven Park Road. It was written to mark the 50th Anniversary of the
original establishment of the Brooke Road Shtibil, Beth Hamedrash Ohel
Yisroel. This historical data is by no means complete but was
carefully researched from my father's personal knowledge.
Around mid 1931, the original congregation was
established at No. 48 Brooke Road, Stoke Newington but was transferred
within a few months to No. 46 next door - which was purchased by a Mr.
Michalowski to serve primarily as Shabbat Shul for a few
elderly people residing locally and therefore unable to attend their own
synagogue in East London. This shul or "shtibil" was originally
known as the Michalowski Congregation.
No. 46 was originally a leasehold property with some 20
odd years remaining; but on behalf of the congregation I negotiated the
purchase of the freehold when this became available in the late 40's.
On the original purcahse of No. 46, 4 trustees were appointed --
consisting of Mr. Michalowski himself, a Mr. Yarrow, A Mr. Wolf and
Abraham Neufeld. With the exception of the latter, all the other
three were (at that time) quite elderly and of course retired.
In the late 30's, a Mr. Harris Rosenberg, at that time
choir master of the New Synagogue, Egerton Road, but residing in Brooke
Road, took an active interest in the Michalowski Congregation of which he
had then become the Honorary Secretary. Largely under his influence
and because of the migration of substantial numbers of Jewish people into
the area from the East End in the early years of the war; very quickly
grew from some 30 or 40 paying members to around 150 members by the late
40's. This growth in membership was also assisted by the fact that
Mr. Rosenberg has negotiated an agreement with the Adath Yisroel Burial
Society for obvious cover and which now became available to all
younger members joining the congregation. This too was an obvious
During this period, the congregation acquired Rabbi
Yoselovitch (z.l) who also took over the residential flat above the
shul until his demise around 1946/47. By that time, the congregation
has become known as the Beth Hamedrash Ohel Yisroel. Under Rabbi
Yoselovitch's guidance and influence, the congregation continued its
steady growth and became more vibrant, with daily morning and evening
services as well as Shiurim on shabbat and week-day evenings.
At about that time the regular Seudot Shlishith was also
The premises in Brooke Road then became far too small
to accommodate the expanding congregation and for a number of years in the
late 40's and early 50's, overflow services were arranged for the Yomim
Noroim at St. Michaels Hall at the Clapton end of Northwold Road which
accommodated over 400 members, their families and friends. In the
early 50's, the congregation began seriously to look for larger premises
and eventually these were found in the present building in Northwold Road
in 1953 , which was purchased from the Methodist Church after several
months of negotiations which I had with the Methodist Conference in
Manchester. The badly war damaged and largely derelict building was
then extensively repaired, renovated, re-roofed, wired for electricity and
redecorated at an overall cost of some £10,000 -- this included the
purchase cost -- and which was quite a considerable sum at that time.
The income from the St. Michaels Hall overflow services provided the
nucleus for the Synagogue's Building Fund which made possible the initial
purchase of the new property and contributed towards the very substantial
repairs and reinstatements costs.
Within the first year of acquiring the new premises in
1953/54 and following a very intensive membership drive -- the
congregation expanded to over 300 members by the time they entered the
newly acquired and renovated building in Northwold Road on Rosh Hashanah
By this time however, the original 4 trustees of which
of which I was now one, had become 5 by the execution of a new Deed of
Trust. The percent trustees -- although there have been changes over
the years, are: --
Myself, Mr. Ben Luxenburg -- a past (now life) warden
of the Synagogue, Mr. Freedman who is the present treasurer, Mr. R. Hirsh
the Secretary of the Adath and Rabbi Dr. Schonfeld who was one of the
original 5 trustees of the new building.
The first Rav of the Synagogue was Rabbi Weiser who was
followed after some 2 or 3 years by Rabbi L. Broder who, as you know,
moved to Hendon in May, 1980.
The first Chazan was Rev. Crossman who served the
Synagogue also for some 3 or 4 years and who was then followed by Rev.
Twersky the present incumbent. We also has a Talmud Torah for some 8
or 10 years in the late 50's and early 60's but this eventually has to
close because of the lack of young people (with children) coming into the
Whilst it is not possible to enumerate all the original
dedicated and outstanding members of the congregation, I feel that one
must make mention of just a few. For example, the original two long
serving Guboim in Brooke Road, Mr. Gothelf amd Mr. Jacob Salik --
he was an outstanding character of the "old school" dedicated to the
service of the Synagogue in its formative years; covering a span of some
20 years until his retirement into an Old Peoples Home at the age of over
Mention must also be made of the original Functions
Committee which raised large sums of money to enable the 1953/55 building
works and succeeding improvements to be carried out. Also
tribute must be paid to the earlier and successive Ladies Guilds who
provided considerable financial as well as physical help in all aspects of
the Shul's activities as at Shevuoth and Succoth/Simchat
Torah. Moreover, the Guild played a most important part in bringing
into viable use the previously defunct Hall beneath the Synagogue.
Se we come now to the present time with our sadly
declining congregation (and also membership -- due mainly to natural
causes, removals from the district with no source of replacement.
Although the Synagogue has, in recent years made strenuous efforts to
carry on, this is now proving very difficult -- but not withstanding that
we have this year reached this Synagogue's Golden Wedding Anniversary.
If members and friends wish this Shul to continue for a
further number of years, then we must ask for their full support by
regular attendances at all the services. Perhaps we can then
recommence the Shabbat afternoon and Sunday morning services -- both of
which have ceased for some 2 yeas past. We would also welcome many
of our Shabbat friends who are not members to join the Synagogue. If
Shiurim were wanted, then no doubt these could also be provided. .
The above only covers the "historical data" in general
terms although you may feel that this "history" has been now fairly well
covered. You will of course appreciate that I was personally
privileged to be involved in the whole of this epoch; almost from the very
inception. I was also treasurer from about 1950 to 1960; then
chairman until 1970; since then as president/warden.
I will leave it to you to incorporate such parts of
this "data" which may be appropriate in the course of your sermon on
Shabbat Chanukah . . . . .
S. A. Kingsley
At Rosh Hashanah 1955 the congregation was renamed
Beis Hacknesses Ohel Yisroel upon entry into the new premises in
-- this name is above the main entrance doors. . . .
December 18, 1981
Please continue to move forward to the Virtual Memorial
First Posted: March 6, 2003
Revised: March 8, 2003