Aldwark Synagogue

The former synagogue on Aldwark.

1886AD - 1975AD

On first impressions the Number Three Aldwark looks like an unremarkable building. In truth this site is actually one of the modern Jewish community’s most important locations. As recently as 1975 it was here that the Jewish population of York maintained their synagogue. Unlike Christian churches or Islamic mosques, synagogue building itself is less important. Jews can worship anywhere there is a group of Jewish individuals, a purpose build building is not essential.

The Aldwark synagogue was once a joiner’s shop. It officially became a synagogue in 1886 when Jews finally began to return to return to York in number; the community reached 124 individuals by 1903. However, work in the joiner’s shop continued and the business and the synagogue seem to have been closely related. Work would stop in the shop so the Joiner’s family could worship as well.

When the joiner’s shop closed in 1975 so too did the synagogue. This may well have also been related to the fluctuation in the number of Jews in York throughout the twentieth century. The recorded population dropped as low as 20 in 1955 and York’s Jewish community became closely linked to those in Leeds, particularly with regard to providing official services. However, more recent years have seen a marked increase in the size of York’s community. According to the 2001 census the Jewish population of the city numbered nearly 200.

04 York Jewish History Trail (Stop 3: Aldwark Synagogue) (mp3)


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