Borehamwood has officially overtaken Stanmore as Britain’s biggest Jewish community, as new figures revealed more Jews now live in the southern Hertfordshire town than anywhere else in the country.
With community officials citing a “sudden growth” due to cheaper housing, Elstree and Borehamwood United Synagogue has now recorded more than 2,400 members over the age of 21, making it the largest nationwide. Stanmore, which has had the most community members for more than a decade, has slipped to second, in front of Hampstead Garden Suburb, Bushey and Edgware. All five communities have more than 2,000 members apiece.
“Elstree and Borehamwood is now well-placed to be the country’s largest community for years to come,” said David Kaplan, United Synagogue’s director of community services. “This sudden growth can be attributed to the rise over the past 20 years of affordable housing in the area, its location close to central London and a positive image in terms of Jewish life, particularly in terms of schooling.”
He added that “young modern Orthodox couples and individuals are drawn to the area for their starter home,” saying: “They are contributing to a growing religious Orthodox base. We can be very proud of this phenomenal achievement.”
In recent years, the United Synagogue has invested in Borehamwood and other Jewish parts of Hertfordshire, such as Radlett and Shenley. Kaplan added: “Shabbat mornings at Borehamwood synagogue now adopt a ‘multiplex concept’ with numerous services taking place simultaneously, in addition to overflow services at nearby Yavneh secondary school.”
Locals have been left reflecting on the demographic change. “When we first came here, we were the only mezuzah on the block,” said one long-standing Jewish resident. “It’s amazing to see how many Jewish families have moved to the area in just 10 years. The growth of Jewish businesses, the eruv, a new Jewish primary and the building of new affordable family homes, it has all helped the community to grow.” Elstree and Borehamwood United Synagogue is one of six shuls in the area, alongside Elstree Liberal Synagogue, Borehamwood and Elstree Rambam Synagogue, Elstree Shtiebel, Elstree Federation Synagogue and Elstree and Borehamwood Masorti Synagogue.
In the past few years alone, Borehamwood has seen a rise in the number of kosher businesses opening their doors to customers on the high street, including Orli’s, Mr Baker and B Kosher.
The newly-opened Flipside Burger will soon be joined by the much-anticipated Borehamwood branch of Sami’s, replacing one of the town’s very first kosher restaurants, Let’s Meat.