The modern history of Southampton’s Jewish congregation dates to 1833, though Jews were certainly resident in the town before this date, probably back to the medieval period. In 1341 there was a reference to a 'Jew's House' near West Quay in documents relating to God's House Hospital.

A small Jewish community was present in Southampton in the 19th century, estimated to number about 50 in the mid century, less than a 100 in the 1870s and 150 by 1914. From 1833 the congregation worshiped in a converted room at 2 Middle East Street until 1865 when a new synagogue was built on the south side of Albion Place. Southampton has the distinction of electing Britain's first Jewish town councillor, Abraham Abraham, in 1838, this despite the fact that Abraham refused to swear the Christian oath (a requirement until 1845). Another influential family were the Emanuels, who owned a jewelers shop on the corner of High Street and East Street from about 1823 to 1940 and who were influential in setting up the original congregation and in establishing the new synagogue in Albion Place. The synagogue was demolished in 1963 to make way for a car park adjacent to the newly-built Castle Way (see clipping below). It was replaced by a new synagogue in Mordaunt Road, opened in November 1964.

Newspaper clippings

Old Synagogue Closes to Give Way to Cars. Southern Evening Echo, 22 April 1963

Further reading;
Anglo-Jewry since 1066, by Tony Kushner. (H/h)
'A Tale of Two Port Jewish Communities: Southampton and Portsmouth Compared', by Tony Kushner in Port Jews, by David Cesarani (ed), 87-110. (HS/h)
'Abraham Abraham: a forgotten politician of mid-nineteenth century Southampton', by Richard Preston in Southampton Local History Forum Journal, no. 22, Spring 2014, p3-10. (HS/h)


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