The United Synagogue is a charity which serves the British Jewish community in the broadest possible way.
We power Jewish life through our many communities and the critical infrastructure and programmes we provide for the British Jewish community. Whether you’re a member or not, you will have benefited from what we do.
Our story formally begins in 1870, when we were created by an Act of Parliament. We remain the only Jewish charity to be born this way. On this page you’ll find more about who we are today and an insight into our fascinating history.
Who We Are Today
We’ve been serving the Jewish community for more than 150 years. Today we have some 36,000 adult members across our 56 communities. With more than 100 Rabbis and Rebbetzens, hundreds of committed staff and thousands of dedicated volunteers, we power Jewish life through our communities, our kashrut and eruv team, nurseries, marriages, Burial Society, educational materials, Tribe programmes and summer camps, Chesed team, the highly-respected London Beth Din, our support for the Office of the Chief Rabbi and much, much more.
Our mission is to engage Jews with mainstream Orthodox Jewish living, learning and caring. Put another way, we want more Jews doing more Jewish things more of the time. Our vision is creating a community of inspired Jews, with enriched lives, passing our heritage on to future generations.
Our spiritual head is Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.
Our roots go back even further than 1870 – nearly two centuries in fact – to about 1690 when the Great Synagogue was founded in Duke’s Place, the first Ashkenazi shul built in London after the return of Jews to England in the 17th century. For many years, the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue also served as the Chief Rabbi and the Office of the Chief Rabbi has developed alongside the United Synagogue. Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler became Chief Rabbi in 1845 and is credited with bringing together five London shuls to form the United Synagogue.
Follow the timeline below to explore some of the milestones of our charity: