After the Jews were allowed back into England around 1656, they came from Europe by ship into the ports on the English East coast, mainly London, but also to some of the smaller ports, such as Dover.
London during that time period was a small city, bounded by a medieval wall with many gates, some of whose names are still in use today: Moorgate and Aldgate, for example. Indeed in the city itself one of the main streets retains the name London Wall, and the remaining sections of the wall can be seen alongside it.
The Jews who landed at London’s port, located at the eastern end of the city, did not have the wherewithal to go far, and settled in what it still known as the “East End,” like what happened in the Lower East Side of New York.
In 1809, the underground railway was extended to Golders Green and beyond, and many Jews who could afford to began moving in that direction. This was probably the real start of the Jews settling in the NW London areas.
There has been a prominent Jewish community in this part of London since the first half of the 20th century. The Jewish community took root after Hitler’s rise to power, with the first German Jewish immigrants forming the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash. Soon after, Galician Jewish immigrants formed other synagogues. With these shuls came the start of Jewish schools such as Menorah before the onset of World War II.
By the 1950s, the Jewish population had tripled. Today there are close to 50 kosher restaurants and eateries under rabbinical supervision in Golders Green. There are also more than 60 synagogues dotted throughout the area serving the extremely Orthodox to the quite liberal. They continue into neighbouring Hendon. In addition, there are 30 schools (some in outlying areas due to space restriction), many of them private.
In 1922, a group of Orthodox Jews consecrated a synagogue at Dunstan Road, Golders Green, and since then many others have joined them in that 2-mile square of space. The synagogue still stands. During the week you will see many Jews dressed in traditional clothing and openly wearing head coverings. As can be found in other parts of the world today, the shuls do have security, but Baruch Hashem there has not been any trouble or difficulty in Golders Green to disturb Orthodox Jews. As a matter of fact, on Shabbat and all holidays, very many walk to shul with their talliseim worn openly over their coat and heads covered by a hat or a shtreimel.
Jews make up 37% of the population according to the 2011 census, whereas Christians made up 26%. Ethnically, the Golders Green ward was 64% white (43% British, 21% other, 1% Irish).
Today, there is also an eiruv and at least one mikvah.
Golders Green is well known as a secure and safe “hub” of the London Jewish community.
About the Author: Murray Lee, the owner of the estate agency/real estate brokerage Dreamview Estates in Golders Green has been serving the local Jewish communities for over 40 years and in Golders Green since 1994. He has one of the best reputations in the area and is extremely well regarded by clients and contemporaries.
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