following compilations for 1977 and 1983. The figures presented relate to mid-1990. To
the best of our knowledge all congregations in the United Kingdom are included: we would
be pleased to be told of any unwittingly omitted. In order to compare data across
synagogue groupings and between areas, our analytical base (which is described fully
in the Appendix) is such that data presented here for individual synagogues may differ
from membership figures published by synagogal bodies. This is particularly the case
where synagogues count husbands and wives as two individual members: we have
considered them as one household membership.
marriages and of burials and cremations of Jews for 1989 The findings are
presented below. As in past years, marriage and death totals are
subdivided into various synagogue groupings. This is done for analytical
purposes and in order to indicate trends. The statistics for groups show
only which section of the community recorded the marriage or death. They
in no way measure the level of religious observance of individuals
In giving an overview of Jewish women in Great Britain I intend to touch on three areas: Jewish organizations; participation in synagogue life; and the position of Jewish women's research in Britain. The main sources for the data I quote are the regular compilations of synagogue membership and estimates of population which the Board of Deputies Community Research Unit has conducted regularly the past thirty years; and two recent large scale-studies: The Review of Women in the Jewish Community in 1993 for the Chief Rabbi's Commission on Women; and The Survey of Social Attitudes of British Jews conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 1995.
of Deputies approximately every five years, is published jointly with the Institute for Jewish Policy
Synagogue membership data are of particular interest to community leaders and planners because
they provide the only consistent indicator of patterns of Jewish affiliation over time. No other survey
regularly reports on the denominational structure of the Jewish community in the UK. The data are
also unique in providing a consistent indicator of Jewish belonging – a measure of proactive
attachment and commitment to Jewish communal life.
Despite the continuing decline in synagogue affiliation over the last generation, the synagogue, as an
institution, nevertheless continues to be the principal arena of formal affiliation to the Jewish
The data presented here reveal a dynamic picture of communal change in the UK, charting changes in
the religious make-up of the community. We have sought to provide as functionally relevant a measure
of synagogue membership as possible within the limits of the data that we were able to obtain.