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People’s Plaque commemorates Islington’s rich Jewish heritage

The site of an historic Jewish building is the latest recipient of a People's Plaque, an Islington Council initiative that celebrates significant people, places and events in the borough.

The distinctive green plaque will be unveiled at the site of the North London Synagogue on Thursday 4 June at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries and prominent members of the Jewish community.

Consecrated by the Chief Rabbi in 1868, the North London Synagogue was situated on John Street [now Lofting Road] in Barnsbury. It served as a place of worship to the Jewish community for 90 years.

The building was designed in Italian style and richly decorated with marble, plaster moulded into the shape of plants, coffered ceilings and stained glass.

During the 19th century London was expanding rapidly and the area north of the Angel, which until then had been quite rural, was transformed by new housing developments and improved transport links. Like other Londoners, those Jews who could afford to escape the grime and overcrowding of the central area were keen to move into the spacious new suburbs. By the 1850s, Islington had one of the largest Jewish communities of England.

In the souvenir booklet produced for a commemorative service to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the residing Rabbi, Nathan Bergerman, finished his address by desiring ‘that the Synagogue may celebrate its 100th anniversary unimpaired …’, but this was not to happen.

By the mid-1950s many of the synagogue’s members had moved on, and in 1958, with low attendances and the building in poor condition the synagogue was closed and then demolished. Islington Council later constructed flats on the site.

The North London Synagogue was chosen by popular vote as one of three new recipients of a People’s Plaque. More than 20 green plaques have been erected across the borough since 2007.

Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing at Islington Council, said:  “For nearly 90 years, the North London Synagogue was the place for the thriving Jewish community to connect, meet and worship.

“We are delighted to be unveiling an Islington People’s Plaque to commemorate the borough’s rich Jewish heritage.”

 

Notes to editors

Media representatives and interested members of the public are cordially invited to attend the unveiling ceremony which takes place at 6pm on Thursday 4 June at Barnes Court, Lofting Road, N1 1JD.

Please note that photographs should be credited: Islington Local History Centre

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