London’s oldest surviving Ashkenazi synagogue has launched an appeal for personal anecdotes and photographs of congregants named on its seat plaques.
The Grade II-listed Sandys Row Synagogue, which in its heyday reportedly drew up to 200 worshippers on Shabbat, declined in the 1970s as many Jewish families left the neighbourhood.
But the congregation, founded in 1854 on a quiet street in London’s East End by a small community of Dutch Jewish migrants, has seen its membership grow in recent years.
Now its Our Roots project, to launch online on 22 July at 7.45pm, seeks to offer snapshots of the personal lives of its members past and present.
As part of the project, the synagogue’s artist-in-residence Adam Dant captured the shul’s ornate decor and benches in “The Grand Plan”, to be exhibited in the building.
The painting has been uploaded online, with an eye to matching personal photographs and anecdotes with seat plaques. “If you and members of your family are or were associated with the Sandys Row Synagogue, London’s oldest Ashkenazi community, we want to hear from you,” Leonie Lewis, project coordinator at the shul, said on Wednesday.
“This project will provide an ongoing live, shared narrative, telling our stories, and keeping the shul at the heartbeat of the Jewish East End, the City of London and beyond,” she added.
Rose Edmands, trustee of the synagogue, said the appeal is “the first stage of our Living History project, where we are seeking support to convert our basement into a permanent exhibition centre, showcasing our rich and unique heritage.”
To contribute to the Our Roots project, visit the web page https://sandysrowsynagogue.org/your-roots/.