Situated in the City of London, just off the ancient thoroughfare of Bevis Marks, the Sephardic Bevis Marks Synagogue is the oldest synagogue still in use in Britain.
History of the Bevis Marks Synagogue
London's modern Jewish community began with the famous Petition presented to Cromwell in 1656 by Rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel of Holland who was living in London. For the first time since the expulsion in 1290 under Edward I, Jews were permitted to live and worship openly in England.
The Jews of London quickly set up a synagogue in a rented house in Creechurch Lane in the City of London and leased land in Mile End, Stepney, for a burial ground. The community grew steadily and eventually decided to build a large new synagogue. The Bevis Marks Synagoguewas completed in 1701.
The roof of the synagogue incorporated a beam from a royal ship presented by Queen Anne herself. The interior of the Bevis Marks Synagogue is patterned after the great Amsterdam synagogue of 1677.
The roof was destroyed by fire in 1738, and repaired in 1749, but the remainder of the synagogue remains just as it was 200 years ago.
The Bevis Marks Synagogue was for more than a century the religious center of the Anglo-Jewish world, and served as a clearing-house for congregational and individual troubles all the world over; such as the appeal of the Jamaican Jews for a reduction in taxation (1736); the internecine quarrel among the Barbados Jews (1753); and the aiding of seven-year-old Moses de Paz, who escaped from Gibraltar in 1777 to avoid an enforced conversion.
The synagogue formed the center of the Sephardic community of London until the foundation of the Bryanstone Street Synagogue in 1866, after which attendance at Bevis Marks declined so much that demolition was seriously contemplated in 1886. The community, however, rallied in support of the old synagogue and the Bevis Marks Synagogue survived intact to celebrate its bicentenary with great pomp in 1901.
In 1992 and 1993 the Bevis Marks Synagogue suffered great damage from terrorist bomb attacks on the City of London. Nearly £200,000 was raised by donation and has since been spent in repairing and renovating the structure to return it to its former glory.
The Bevis Marks Synagogue remains in regular use as a place of worship today.
Quick Facts on the Bevis Marks Synagogue
|Names:||Bevis Marks Synagogue|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.514258° N, 0.079136° W|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Bevis Marks Synagogue|
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Map of the Bevis Marks Synagogue, London
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