The records of the Westminster Synagogue were deposited in 1998. The archives of the Synagogue amount to approximately 20 feet of files, volumes and publications. These consist of minutes, publications, correspondence and related papers of the officers of the congregation and the ministers.
LMA/4071/01/01 Council 1957 - 1968
LMA/4071/01/02 Executive Committee 1957 - 1985
LMA/4071/01/03 Search Committee 1978 - 1995
LMA/4071/01/04 Annual General Meetings 1957 - 1995
LMA/4071/01/05 Correspondence 1937 - 1988
LMA/4071/02/01 Rabbi Harold Reinhart 1957 - 1983
LMA/4071/02/02 Rabbi Albert Friedlander 1975 - 1997
LMA/4071/03/01 House and Building Fund Committee 1958 - 1964
LMA/4071/03/02 Correspondence 1958 - 1990
LMA/4071/04/01 Minutes and correspondence 1960 - 1995
Westminster Synagogue, 1957 -, Knightsbridge, London
Friedlander, Albert, fl 1971, Rabbi of London
Rabbi Friedlander's official correspondence is included in the collection: these archives have been closed to protect the privacy of named individuals. Permission to study these files should be obtained from the Westminster Synagogue. Other records are on open access.
Administrative / biographical background:
The congregation was founded by Rabbi Harold Reinhart in 1957. Rabbi Reinhart resigned from his position as Senior Minister of the West London Synagogue and, accompanied by some eighty former members of that synagogue, established the New London Synagogue, shortly afterwards to be renamed the Westminster Synagogue.
The congregation's earliest services were held at Caxton Hall. In 1960 the congregation acquired Kent House opposite Hyde Park in Knightsbridge. The building provided room for a synagogue, accommodation for congregational activities and a flat for the Minister.
Westminster Synagogue has, in religious terms, remained largely in tune with the Reform movement in Britain. The congregation has been served by the Reform Beth Din and has links with the West London Synagogue's burial facilities. The congregation does not have a system of seat rentals and aims to give equality to all members. Women play a full part in congregational life.
Rabbi Reinhart died in 1969. He was succeeded by Rabbi Albert Friedlander in 1971. Rabbi Friedlander combined his ministry for some years with his post as Director of Rabbinical Studies at the Leo Baeck College. Rabbi Friedlander retired in 1997.
The ministers and congregation of Westminster Synagogue have been closely involved in the Czech Memorial Scrolls Centre which is located on the top floor of Kent House. The scrolls were confiscated by the Nazis from Jewish communities in Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia during the Second World War and acquired by a British art dealer in 1963 (the small Czech Jewish community lacking the resources to maintain them). Rabbi Reinhart accepted the 1,564 scrolls on the understanding that Westminster Synagogue could provide a responsible and non-commercial home for them. The scrolls were catalogued and, where possible, repaired and many were passed on to be used in synagogues throughout the world. A small museum was set up in Kent House to display the work of the Centre and tell the history of the scrolls.