History of SWHC

The earliest evidence of Jews in South East Essex dates back to the late 1700s, however it took another hundred years before the semblance of what we recognise today as SWHC was formed.

Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation was formally formed in 1906 with the first purpose-built Shul on Alexandra Road being built in 1912. The current synagogue building IN Finchley Road dates from 1968. By the 1980s there were 1500 families registered as members of our Shul!

In more recent history, May 2006 saw the Chief Rabbi and other well-known Dignitaries join in the Centenary celebrations to mark 100 years of SWHC. In his address, the Chief Rabbi praised the vibrancy of the Community and extolled the virtues of SWHC.

We have been blessed over the years with several visits from various Chief Rabbis. On 16th May 2010 was the day of the Hachnasat Sefer Torah. The Community held a street party parade welcoming our two new Sifrei Torah. The Chief Rabbi once again visited the City to take part in the celebrations, together with other dignitaries from near and far. The Synagogue was completely packed for the service and the Chief Rabbi’s sincere and humorous speech. The Sifrei Torah were sponsored by members of the SWHC community.

In a big year for Israel and the Jewish People, including 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, we had the pleasure of welcoming Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev to our shul.

Lewis Herlitz has done much research into the history of our community and it can be found in the document below published for the centenary in 2006.

Centenary Brochure