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Home For Aged Jews, 105 Nightingale Lane. 1969

​Home For Aged Jews, Nightingale Lane. 1969

North London Progressive Synagogue and Nightingale collections

Further records of London’s Jewish community have been catalogued and made available for research at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) - the archives of the North London Progressive Synagogue and additional photographs in the Nightingale (formerly The Home for Aged Jews) collection. Jeff Gerhardt describes the history of these two organisations and their surviving archives.

North London Progressive Synagogue


The history of the North London Progressive Synagogue goes back to 1902 and the start of the Liberal Judaism movement by Dr. Claude Montefiore and Lily Montagu. The movement was influenced by Montefiore’s 1903 book entitled “Liberal Judaism - An Essay” and the first Liberal Jewish Synagogue was established in 1911 at St. John’s Wood, London. Montagu, Montefiore and the movement’s first Rabbi, Israel Mattuck, looked to establish a progressive Jewish congregation in north London and enlisted Rabbi Dr Maurice L. Perlzweig who became lay minister of the North London Liberal Synagogue (as it was then known) in 1921.

The inaugural service for the congregation was held in a packed Stoke Newington Public Library, Church Street in April 1921. Although denounced by some members of the Orthodox Jewish community, the congregation thrived, sometimes reaching 300 attendees. Increased membership led to the building of the first synagogue at Belfast Road, Stoke Newington in 1927. After the lease expired in 1936, the congregation found itself back at the library hall until 1939, followed by the Stamford Hill Club. Around 1938, the congregation welcomed a new Rabbi from Germany, Dr Rudi Brasch and it was at his house at 150 Osbaldeston Road, Stoke Newington, that many of the congregation’s activities took place.

Considerable increases in the size of the congregation led to a new synagogue being acquired at 30 Amhurst Park, Stoke Newington in 1945 and consecrated in 1946. Rabbi Brasch moved to South Africa in 1948 and was replaced by Reverend Vivien Simmons as minister followed by Reverend Herbert Richer in 1956. Finally, in 1955, the congregation found a permanent home at an old Methodist church at 100 Amhurst Road, Stoke Newington.  The new synagogue was consecrated in January 1956 with nearly 600 people attending; the congregation had grown to around 1000 by 1962.  In 1969, Reverend Richer retired and was succeeded by Rabbi Sidney Brichto followed by Bernard Hooker (1975). Although membership had reached 1500 by the 1970s, numbers steadily declined until the synagogue closed in 2004.


The records mainly cover the activities of the synagogue in the 1990s until its closure in 2004, although some earlier archives are held. These include council minutes and papers, 1964-2003; service records,1965-2002; members records, 1941?-2004; financial records, 1955-2000; photographs, 1920s-2002; posters and display boards, 1930?-2001; service leaflets, 1963-2001; publicity, 1930-2001; Synagogue magazines, 1996-2001; newspapers cuttings, 1929-82; and Synagogue histories and memoirs, 1937 - 2001.

A catalogue of the archives of the North London Progressive Synagogue can be found by visiting LMA’s online catalogue under reference LMA/4659. For the archives of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue see reference ACC/3529.

Further information on the history of the synagogue can be found in ‘The First 50 Years of Progressive Judaism at North London Progressive Synagogue: 1921-1971’, reference LMA/4659/H/01/001.

Nightingale (formerly The Home for Aged Jews)


Nightingale is a non-profit charitable organisation for the care of elderly Jews. Its origins date from the 19th century when the Poor Law system did not support the religious and dietary needs of poor members of the Jewish community. To save aged Jews from starvation and exposure on the streets, the Hand in Hand Asylum for Decayed Tradesmen was founded in 1840 and located at: 5 Duke's Place (from 1843), 22 Jewry Street (from 1850), Wellclose Square (from 1854) and 23 Well Street, Hackney (from 1878). The Widows' Home Asylum was founded 1843 and was first based at 22 Mitre Street, then 19 Duke Street (from 1850), 67 Great Prescott Street, Goodmans Fields (from 1857) and later moved next door to the Hand in Hand in 1880. The Jewish Workhouse, also known as the Jewish Home, was founded in 1871 with the first premises at 123 Wentworth Street and in 1876 moved to 37-9 Stepney Green. In 1894, these charities amalgamated as The Home for Aged Jews and in 1896 were based at 23 and 25 Well Street, Hackney and 37 and 39 Stepney Green. In 1896, the aims were: 'to provide a Home for, maintain and clothe aged, respectable and indigent persons of the Jewish Religion, who shall have attained the age of 60 years, and shall have been resident in England for at least seven years.'

In 1904, 'Ferndale' in Wandsworth Common was gifted by Sydney James Stern, Lord Wandsworth and in 1907 The Home for Aged Jews moved to these new premises. The 1960s saw relaxations in Orthodox religious restrictions with the introduction of visiting hours on the Sabbath and festivals, and the abolition of compulsory wearing of kippot (skull caps) and attendance at religious services.  In the same decade, The Home for Aged Jews became Nightingale House (The Home for Aged Jews) and in 1997 was renamed Nightingale.

The latter half of 20th century saw major building projects at Nightingale including the Asher Corren Wing (1957), Birchlands (1980), Jessie and Alfred Cope Wing (1992), David Clore Art and Craft Centre (1986), Balint Wing (1987), Gerald Lipton Centre (2001) and the state of the art Wohl Wing (2011). In 2012, Hammerson House in the Hampstead Garden Suburb merged with Nightingale to create Nightingale Hammerson. Hammerson House follows the Reform movement while Nightingale House offers more traditional services.


Sadly, a large number of archives of the Home were lost in 1970 due to flooding, but a wide range of records from the latter half of the 20th century survive as well as some 19th century archives. Records include minutes, annual reports, accounts, property and building records, printed material, photographs, films and videos. The archive gives a detailed picture of changes in care work and the life of residents and staff working at Nightingale. Of particular interest are the residents' admission book, 1914-33 and official 'diary' of events, 1916 which are a good resource for tracing residents admitted to the Home. Also the annual reports, 1896-1997 which cover all aspects of the Home including the early introduction of occupational therapy and other facilities. A large number of additional photographs have been added to the collection recently including photographs of the Home, its residents and celebrity visitors. The newly catalogued photographs date from the 1970s to 2007 and are in both print and digital formats. Printed photographs are in process of being packaged, so please check availability before ordering. Digital photographs are by appointment only.

More information on the archives of Nightingale (formerly The Home for Aged Jews) can be found by visiting LMA’s online catalogue under reference LMA/4456.

More information on Nightingale can be found on its website.

14 May 2015
Last Modified:
26 September 2018