The Early Years
In 1928 there were already a few isolated Jewish families living in Wembley who felt they wanted to get together for the purpose of worship and in order to facilitate Hebrew and Religious Education. At that time the nearest organised communities were at Cricklewood, Harrow and Ealing. But the movement of Jewish populations from east, north and Central London had already begun and one of the directions it took was towards the northwestern suburbs of London which had been made accessible by the rapid transport facilities afforded by the Metropolitan and other railways lines.
The first meeting at which it was decided to form the Wembley Hebrew Congregation took place on 5 September 1928. Mr H. Hooberman was appointed Chairman of the Congregation. The first classes were held in January 1929. A Ladies’ Guild was formed in February 1930 and the Congregation became affiliated to the United Synagogue in 1931. At first the services were held only at Festival times and without any congregational premises various halls had to be used such as the Union Hall in Ealing Road, Mitchell’s Restaurant in Wembley High Road and later the Capital Ballroom in Empire Way.
At the end of 1931 membership had risen to 64 and already the feeling for finding a permanent home had prompted the Committee to purchase part of the site of the present synagogue buildings. 1934 saw the firm establishment of the Wembley Community. On 22 April, Sir Isidore Salmon laid the foundation stone of the first temporary synagogue. In June the decision was taken to appoint a Minister and a call was extended to the then Rev. Myer Berman. In the same year, the status of the synagogue was raised to that of a District Synagogue. On 2 September, the Induction of the Minister and the Consecration of the Synagogue was performed by the Chief Rabbi, Joseph H. Hertz.
n August 1939 the Ladies Guild purchased the first sefer Torah for the synagogue. In November of that year the house next door was purchased. Sir Isidore Salmon, Member of Parliament for Harrow West, which then included Wembley, was president of the newly formed building fund. Membership rapidly increased up to the outbreak of World War II and more building of a temporary character was undertaken.
In 1940 Rev Berman was commissioned as a chaplain in the Army until his return to Wembley on demobilisation in March 1946 and Rev S Venitt was appointed as temporary minister during his absence. In 1949 it was realised that the site of the synagogue would be too small to accommodate the new synagogue whenever it was built. And when the opportunity arose, 10 Forty Avenue was purchased so that a total frontage of some 200 ft was made available for future development. It was felt that one comprehensive scheme should be prepared and building operation commenced on the section which would house the classes Wing as accommodation for the children’s education was a priority.
On 23 March 1953 the foundation stone of the classroom wing was laid and on 25 October it was consecrated by Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie.
After numerous appeals and fund raising efforts, building operations on the new synagogue started in 1956 and the foundation stone was laid on 17 November 1956.