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		                                    LJS Founding People		                                </span>
		                            <span class="slider_description">LJS Founding People - Montefiore, Mattuck, Moos</span>


We are the LJS, the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, founded in 1911. In this section you can read all about our history and our building.

To read our Annual Review 2019, please click here

The LJS Story, Our Vision, Our Values, Our Building, The Holocaust Memorial, The Israel Abrahams Library,  The Czech ScrollsThe Pound Lane Cemetery, our on-site Accessibility and our Safeguarding.

The LJS Story

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue is the oldest and largest of forty Liberal Jewish communities in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Holland and Denmark. Its early years were distinguished by the leadership of the ‘Three Ms' (pictured above) the Anglo-Jewish scholar Claude G. Montefiore (1858-1938), Lily Montagu (1873-1963), whose spiritual influence on the early Liberal Jewish movement - originally known as the Jewish Religious Union - was considerable, and Rabbi Dr Israel Mattuck (1883-1954), the first Rabbi of the LJS, a fiery and eloquent preacher.

Spiritual integrity, musical excellence, education and community care have been at the core of the LJS since its inception. Our services are conducted in Hebrew and English, music is drawn from a wide variety of sources both ancient and contemporary.  Learning takes place throughout the community, beginning with Tiny Tots & the LJS Nursery School and continuing through Rimon Religion School through to an active and stimulating adult education programme at The Learning Circle. The synagogue’s community care programme looks after the senior members of our congregation, those with mental health issues, the bereaved and those who are lonely.  It also reaches out beyond the Jewish community to work with people of all faiths through the Out & About Club and the LJS Drop-in for Asylum Seeker Families.

The full story of the LJS can be read in Pam Fox’s book, A Place to Call My Jewish Home: Memories of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue 1911-2011.

Our Vision

‘For my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples’ – (Isaiah 56:7)

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue is an inclusive, egalitarian community of all ages, working together to explore Jewish traditions, texts and values and applying them to the challenge of living ethical lives within the context of the social, intellectual, technological and scientific realities of the 21st Century.

We seek to sustain and develop the Jewish people’s sacred task: to build a just and compassionate world that is based on our commitment and responsibility; to each other as Jews; to our friends and neighbours of other faiths and cultures; to the global environment; and to enrich and deepen the uniqueness of our identity in a context of shared spirituality and creativity, intellectual challenge and meaningful relationships.

Our Values

Kehillah The LJS seeks to be a warm, welcoming and compassionate community for all those who wish to engage with Judaism.

Avodah  The LJS cherishes meaningful, shared worship and dynamic spiritual engagement within the context of Liberal Judaism.

Torah  The LJS prioritises life-long learning and the intellectual challenge of Jewish texts, ideas & practice, growing & nurturing a sense of Jewish identity for children and adults alike.  

Gemilut Chasadim The LJS nurtures meaningful relationships through pastoral care & spiritual encounter and facilitates social networking.

Tikkun Olam  The LJS values all meaningful activity that is designed to repair and heal the world.

Chayyim The LJS celebrates and commemorates all life cycle events that help to give meaning to people’s lives.

Din v’Cheshbon The LJS is committed to transparent and responsible governance of the congregation and financial accountability by its trustees.

Yahadut Mitkademet  The LJS encourages its members’ contribution to the dynamic growth and development of Liberal Judaism in Europe, Israel and beyond.


Our Building

The original building was in a former chapel in Hill Street, London NW1, though it no longer exists. Just a few years after its founding, it became apparent that a larger building would be needed for the growing community and a site was purchased at our present location in St John’s Wood Road.

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood with its grand ionic columns of Portland Stone seated 1,350 people and was dedicated on 13th September 1925, just in time for that year's High Holy Days. The building would be seriously damaged by an enemy bomb in 1940, and although it was repaired by 1950 and a new classroom block and small synagogue built to one side in the 1960s, serious structural defects prompted the community to undertake major re-building in the late 1980s.

In the new design, the original portico was the only feature retained; the right to build flats around and above the synagogue was purchased by a developer, and the present building was opened in 1991.

The interior was designed by Israeli architects Kantor Schwartz; the beautiful sanctuary is lined with Jerusalem stone and the ark doors are a mesh of metals set in bronze frames. A detailed brochure about the building and its furnishings can be found here.

The Holocaust Memorial

The wall between the two entrance doors holds the memorial to the six million Jews who perished in the Sho’ah (Holocaust). The stone, a three-ton Kilkenny limestone, is the work of noted sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor CBE, and was dedicated in 1996, on the 58th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass).

Pictured by the memorial are Ann and Bob Kirk, two of the kindertransport children who escaped to the UK from Germany before the outbreak of war in 1939. They married at The LJS after the war.



Our Library

The Israel Abrahams Library contains more than 6,000 books old and new and listed on an electronic database, and covers liturgy, history, literature, and biography. The books are a wonderful part of our heritage and we want you all to appreciate them.

The library is open before Shabbat morning services or by arrangement. Books, videos, and CDs may be borrowed by members of the congregation and, by arrangement, by students.



The Czech Scrolls

On February 1964, 1564 Torah scrolls arrived in London from what was then Czechoslovakia, under the auspices of the Westminster Synagogue. They had been stored under very poor conditions in the Michle Synagogue in Prague for about 20 years and were in urgent need of care and attention. Over the years the majority have been restored and sent out to congregations all over the world to encourage development and to serve as a memorial to the members of the lost Czech communities who had once used them.

You can read more about all the LJS scrolls here.

For further information, please visit to read about the Czech scrolls project.


The Pound Lane Cemetery

If you are looking for information on what to do in the event of a bereavement, please click HERE 

The LJS has its own cemetery at Pound Lane, Willesden. It was opened in 1914 and should remain active for at least another 50 years. Space is available for burials and interment of ashes for members and non-members of The LJS, though only LJS members have automatic burial rights there. The synagogue is happy to organise and arrange burials for non-members at Pound Lane, whether they are Jewish or not. It is the general policy of the synagogue not to separate in death those who were together in life. This becomes increasingly important as mixed-faith partners grow old. Jewish non-members and/or their partners from all relationships are therefore welcome to apply for burial at our cemetery.

The cemetery offers a number of alternatives including rose gardens, small ashes graves, a columbarium, family plots, and burial in depth. It is possible to reserve graves. The cemetery also has a war memorial and a Holocaust memorial.

A record of all graves and ashes is held by the cemetery superintendent and Jo-Anne Winston at the LJS office. Please contact Jo-Anne Winston at for more information. Genealogical information can be obtained on request.

For information about the LJS committee that oversees our cemetery, please click here

Getting to the Cemetery: The cemetery is situated off Pound Lane, Willesden, London NW10 2HG. At the south-east end of Pound Lane is a fire station, next to the fire station is a block of flats and by the side of the flats is a small road that leads to the cemetery. See map.

Bus: Routes 6 and 226 stop outside the fire station. Bus numbers 52 and 98 stop in Willesden High Road, at the corner of Hawthorn Road; walk down Hawthorn Road to the cemetery (about five minutes).

Underground: The nearest stations are Dollis Hill or Willesden Green, both of which are 10-15 minutes walk from the cemetery.

Grave Maintenance: We can arrange for the upkeep of graves, including some renovations where necessary, and regular cleaning of headstones and yearly planting if required. For more details, please contact the Funerals Co-ordinator via email at


Ease of access is of paramount importance, and many procedures have been put in place to ensure those using wheelchairs or pushing baby buggies can enter the building from street level without hindrance.

The LJS was awarded most accessible synagogue having been designed with ramps and step-free access into the building. In addition to this, the Sanctuary is equipped with a hearing loop and dedicated space for two wheelchairs, large print prayer books available on request, and High Holy Day sermons beamed onto the walls.

The ground floor also features a large disabled toilet with electric door, and a rear lift allows access to our first floor and staff offices.


The health and wellbeing of our congregation, our visitors and our staff is one of our highest priorities and we are encouraged towards acts of lovingkindness - Gemilut Hasadim - or simply, caring for one another.

The LJS has committed to Safeguarding policies to ensure transparency in our working environment. 

The Rimon school's Safeguarding policy can be viewed HERE

Mon, 21 September 2020 3 Tishrei 5781