Sandys RowSandys Row Synagogue The Society of Loving kindness & Truth ~ All Are Welcome
A Jewish Community at the very heart of London

Welcome to Sandys Row Synagogue - Spitalfields. London’s oldest Ashkenazi Synagogue and the last fully functioning Jewish community in what was once the very heart of the Jewish East End.
Our congregation is as diverse as our Spitalfields neighbourhood, with Jews from a wide variety of backgrounds. We wholeheartedly welcome anyone interested in discovering a warm community, spiritual meaning, and a truly vibrant Jewish life. We hold regular services, and offer lunchtime shiurs , a host musical concerts and cultural events, and special holiday celebrations. We hope you’ll explore our community and consider it your own.
We were founded in 1854 by a 50 pioneering Dutch families, and since then our doors have never closed.

The site of Sandys Row Synagogue was once open-land called Old Artillery Gardens, named after Henry VIII’s royal artillery, the ’Gunners of the Tower’ for the exercise of ‘great and small artillery’ in the sixteenth century, next to the pasture-land of Spital Fyeld’s. On 13 February 1681/2 the Old Artillery Ground was granted in perpetuity to George Bradbury and Edward Noell for £5,700, with licence to build new houses on the same. It was described as the Old Artillery Ground or Old Artillery Garden in or near the parish of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate.

French Huguenot Protestants purchased the plot where Sandys Row Synagogue now stands in 1763 for £400 and erected a chapel there in 1766 called L'Eglise de l'Artillerie (the Artillery Church). Artillery Church merged with the London Walloon Church in 1786, and then for the next fifty years, the church was let to other protestant groups; the Unitarian and Scottish Baptists before becoming known as Salem Chapel and then Parliament Court Chapel.

In the 1840s Dutch Ashkenazi’s Jewish migrants mainly from Amsterdam began arriving in Sptialfields. They were economic migrants seeking a better life, rather than refugees fleeing persecution like the thousands of Ashkenazi Jews who came after them in the 1880s from the Pale of Settlements.

The Dutch Jews settled in a small quarter of narrow streets in West Spitalfields known as the Tenterground, which was originally open land named after the tenters; wooden frames used for drying and stretching cloth. The ‘Tenter’ area included the streets of Whites Row, Tenter Street, Artillery Passage and Sandy’s Row. This area had been previously occupied by French Huguenot silk weavers and the Dutch Jews set up workshops in their former weavers lofts, practising the trades they had bought with them from Holland, which were predominately cigar making, diamond cutting and polishing and slipper and cap making. Many small workshops were established in the Tenterground area and businesses were passed on within generations of families.

Within this area a small, distinctive, tight knit and self-sufficient Dutch Jewish community was formed of about a thousand people. They had their own practises and customs, which were different from other Ashkenazi Jewish groups. To the frustration of the more established Anglo-Jewish population living in the area at the time, ‘the Chuts’ (as they were known locally) refused to join any of the existing synagogues. Instead they rented a small room in a building on Whites Row Spitalfields, (close to Sandys Row) where they held daily prayer meetings and Shabbat services. Festival services took place in a larger Zetland Hall in Mansell Street.

In 1854 fifty Dutch Jewish families from this community formed a Hebra (a friendly society) called the Hevrat Menahem Avalim Hesed v'Emeth, which translates from the Hebrew as the Society for Comfort of the Mourners, Kindness, and Truth. This friendly society originally functioned as a mutual aid and burial insurance society but as the community expanded the society began fundraising until 1867 when enough funds had been amassed enough to purchase the lease on the chapel in Sandys Row. The society secured a mortgage of £700 on the building, which was paid off in 1929.

One of the most famous synagogue architects of the time, Nathan Solomon Joseph, was employed by the society to remodel the former chapel. Solomon kept many of the original features of the Georgian interior, including the roof and the balcony, which was perfect for the women’s section of the synagogue.

The original entrance to the chapel had been in a tiny alley called Parliament Court which now runs along the back of the synagogue building. Because Jews pray in the direction of Jerusalem, which, in London, is towards the southeast, the original entrance to the building was bricked up and the Torah Ark was placed on the southeast wall, and a new front door was created on the northwest of the building, opening onto Sandys Row.

The design of the interior of Sandys Row was based on The Great Synagogue in Dukes Place (since demolished) with a coved ceiling, cornice, clerestory windows and a Neo-classical mahogany Torah Ark set into an apse. Much of the interior is unaltered since its construction in the nineteenth century apart from the pine pews and the wood pine panelling, which covers much of the interior walls. These features were added in the 1950s.

The consecration ceremony for Sandys Row Synagogue was performed in 1870 by the Haham (the head rabbi of the London's Spanish & Portuguese Jews Congregation), as the Chief Rabbi of London, Nathan Marcus Adler, refused to conduct the service as he was opposed to the establishment of a small independent congregation so close to the large established City synagogues.

In November 1887, Sandys Row Synagogue was the largest of the East End congregations that founded the Federation of Synagogues. It left the Federation in 1899, and was refurbished for the 50th anniversary of the community after acquiring its freehold becoming an Associate of the United Synagogue in 1922. In 1949 it returned to independent status.

Throughout the history of the synagogue Sandys Row has remained independent apart from a short period during the Second World War when they belonged to the United Synagogues to facilitate the amount of burials in the area due to the bombing raids.

For many years the Synagogue acted as the secretariat of the Stepney and Whitechapel Street Traders’ Association, bringing together all the market traders from both Petticoat Lane and Whitechapel Markets.

During the Second World the synagogue was not directly hit but shock waves from bombing nearby damaged the structure of the building. In the 1950s the synagogue flourished. On Shabbat there was always 100 to 200 people there, and on the high Holy days, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, you could not get a seat, people sat on the floor in the aisles.

By the 1970s the synagogue was in decline. Most of the Jewish population had moved out of the East End and membership dwindled. By the 1990s the synagogue nearly closed down, it struggled to achieve a minyan, so the remaining members, many of whom have parents, grandparents and even great grandparents affiliated to the shul, formed a board of management and now again membership is slowly increasing with a new Jewish generation moving back into the East End. Last year Sandys Row had five weddings at the synagogue of young local couples.


Learn More!
Mincah services take place every weekday except Friday with a large number of city workers coming to Sandys Row during their lunch hour. Services take place from 1.15pm – 1.45pm. All welcome, for further information please contact David Parlons who oversees the services. On fast days there can be in excess of one hundred congregants.

“The historic building is still very much a working synagogue and when you walk into the shul you have that wonderful feeling of going back in time and being part of a real community.” (Rose Edmunds, Board Member of Sandys Row)

David Parlons is especially passionate about the tehillim service, which concludes the daily Mincah. Psalms are recited, along with the Hebrew names of people who are ill. “I’ve seen miracles happen for many people.”

Shabbat services are held fortnightly, ministers are Rev M. Gingold and Rabbi Mendy Korer of Habad. Services begin at 9.30am followed by a Kiddush, which gives attendees an opportunity to meet and socialise with others in the community. Everyone old and young will be warmly welcomed.

If you would like to sponsor a Kiddush please contact our administrator.

Members and non-members are welcome to attend high holy days days at Sandys Row.

For details of the next Shabbat services see below:

Sat 24th May
Sat 7th June
Sat 21st June
Sat 5th July
Sat 19th July
Sat 2nd August
Sat 16th August
Sat 30th August
Sat 13th September
Sat 27th September

High Holy days and Festivals:

Roshashannah services led by Rev M. Gingold and Rabbi Mendy Korer of Habad:

September 25th at 6pm
September 26th 9.30am
September 27th 9.30am

Kol NIdre:

3rd October 6pm

Yom Kippur:

4th October 9.30am

Current membership of Sandys Row Synagogue is around 200 and currently expanding due to a new influx of younger members moving into the area after a long period of decline. Sandys Row warmly welcomes all new members. Membership fees are £352 per annum, which includes Burial Society. It is also possible to become a non-burial member which costs £174 per annum. To become a member please contact the administrator.

Get in Touch

The launch of Hidden Histories HLF project

JEEC talks about Simeon Solomon

Supporting London’s Oldest Ashkenazi Community In March 2010, Friends of Sandys Row was established as a registered charity. Its purposes are simple:

  • To support the religious life of the community
  • To advance its cultural and heritage development program
  • To ensure the maintenance and upkeep of the synagogue for the benefit of all
  • To foster and maintain good and well informed relations with other faiths and diverse communities of East London, and to provide support for projects that improve community relations
  • To relieve poverty amongst members of the congregation and other needy people in East London area
We urgently need your support!

Funds are required to help pay for:

  • Repairs and refurbishments
  • Assistance to elderly members on fixed incomes
  • Cataloging and preserving our unique and vast collections
  • Building our vision to develop a heritage centre dedicated to the Jewish East End and the Huguenot experience.
Email heritage@sandysrow.org.uk for more information about our plans!
You can give to Friends of Sandys Row in several ways:
This can be used for a one off donation or a regular contribution and allows us to claim back the Income Tax paid on each gift.

Friends of Sandys Row Gift Aid Form (PDF 73 kb)
You may wish to make a legacy in your Will.
Your generosity to Sandys Row Synagogue will enable us to continue to provide vital community services for many years to come. You can include a bequest to Sandys Row Synagogue when making a new will or add one to a will you have already made in a supplementary document or codicil.

Making a difference in our future

Sandys Row Synagogue exists because of the help of members of our Jewish community. That is why your collaboration is so important to the continuation of our work for the next generations. By making your will, you are securing that future.

Some options for including a bequest in your will:
  • Leave a proportion of your estate to Sandys Row Synagogue (this means that your gift will not be affected by fluctuations in the size of your estate)
  • Include a residuary clause in your Will, in order to dispose of any assets not otherwise mentioned, or leave a percentage of that residue to Sandys Row Synagogue
  • Nominate a specific sum of money you wish to donate to Sandys Row Synagogue
  • Establish a provision so that if any named beneficiary cannot accept their bequest it will go to Sandys Row Synagogue instead
  • Establish a perpetual trust that would provide ongoing financial support for years (please contact your legal adviser should you wish to discuss this option)
  • Life insurance - all or part of your insurance policy can be gifted
Are you thinking that it would be a good idea to donate your time to a good cause?

There are plenty of things that you can do to help Sandys Row Synagogue – both in and out of the office - so your efforts are sure to be appreciated.

If you have some spare time or possibly have some expertise in a specific field – please get in touch.
About Us

For more information about becoming a Friend or making a donation please contact heritage@sandysrow.org.uk.

Please contact the administrator to arrange visits and historical guided tours to Sandys Row Synagogue via administrator@sandysrow.org.uk or telephone: Minimum price for a group tour £50. For groups over 20 an extra £4 per head for adults and £2 per head for children.

The historic and atmospheric site of Sandys Row Synagogue is available for hire for weddings, concerts and cultural events. Price on application, please contact the administrator@sandysrow.org.uk or telephone:

Sandys Row Synagogue provides a place to worship for all