Jewish East End Celebration Society
P.O. Box 57317, London E1 3WG
enquiries@jeecs.org.uk

Do you have information about the former Commercial Road synagogue or Israel Cohen, one of its founders?  Joshua Jacobs, one of Israel's descendants, would love to hear from you.

 He has written to say: 

I am searching for information about Israel Cohen, founder or one of the founders of the Commercial Road Synagogue in the East End. 

Israel was the son of my great-great-great grandfather Nathan/Nachem Cohen, originally from Plintsk, Poland, who settled in London somewhere in the late 1890s.  Israel’s brother was my great-great grandfather Louis (formerly Jossel/Joseph) Cohen, who left London and settled in Philadelphia.  

I’ve been doing genealogical research on my family off and on for a decade and finally am delving deeper into the Cohen branch.  

The reason for my inquiry is that Israel’s gravestone calls him the founder of the "Commercial Rd CT Synagogue".  Israel was born in 1874 in Plintsk, Poland and died in 1941 in London.  His parents Nathan and Rachel, as well as several siblings, fled Poland in the 1890s and settled in London.  Other children came to the U.S., including my great-great grandfather Louis Cohen. 

In the photograph of Israel’s gravestone where you can see the synagogue part etched at the very bottom.

I thought it was so amazing that my ancestor helped create a prominent synagogue in London in the early 20th century and am hoping someone might have an old photo of him or synagogue documents with his name included.  I’m not sure if his other siblings or relatives that remained in London were also involved, but the fact they put it on his gravestone is quite significant.  

I would love to find out more information about Israel and the founding of the original synagogue if someone has any additional knowledge. 

Any help is greatly appreciated.  

If you can help Josh, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  I will forward anything to him.

Commercial Road synagogue merged with the East London Central Synagogue at Nelson Street in the late 1960s.

Our magazine The Cable  had a short article about it some years back by my late brother PhilipZ"L, with some splendid pictures. Here is a chance to re-read it, with the photographs.

Commercial Rd Great synagogue 262 Commercial Rd from Sidney Street mid 1960s Pic 1

This splendid colour photograph from the 1960s, sent in by a kind reader, is a view from Sidney Street looking across the East End into Commercial Road and beyond, and includes the old Commercial Road Great Synagogue.

Note the cranes on the horizon arching above the long filled-in London docks. Note also the Victory pub on the corner of Watney Street, and the distant view of Tower Bridge. 

The synagogue, number 262 Commercial Road, is the square peaked roofed building to the right of the pub. Founded in 1920 it closed in 1968 to merge with the East London Central synagogue in Nelson Street. In its day it was a major Jewish community centre. 

The two black and white photographs date from the 1950s and show the synagogue interior. In the first, the synagogue’s Rabbi Shlomo Halstuck is addressing a meeting. On his extreme right sits Sid Borstein who financed the East End Scholarship centre Talmud Torah in Philpot Street, which closed in 1980.  The second shows him (with beard, seated) and others listening to the synagogue's boys choir. 

Resized Commercial Road synagogue pic 2 Rabbi Shlomo Halstuck 2 Commercial Rd Great Synagogue

 

 

Commercial Road synagogue pic 3 Rabbi Shlomo Halstuck Commercial Rd Great Synagogue

 

 

 

 

 

.

Latest news

  • Tracing a family link with Commercial Road Synagogue

    Do you have information about the former Commercial Road synagogue or Israel Cohen, one of its founders?  Joshua Jacobs, one of Israel's descendants, would love to hear from you. Read More
  • Adam Zahn

    Can you help in uncovering information aboiut Adam Zahn, who lived in Bethnal Green in the early 1900s and owned a bakery? Read More
  • New book brings the 1930s and 1940s East End to life

      The lively Jewish East End community of the 1930s and 1940s is brought to life in a new book edited and translated by Yiddish scholar, musician and JEECS stalwart Vivi Lachs, with translations of stories and sketches by Katie Brown, A. M. Kaizer, and I. A. Lisky. Read More
  • East End-born author provides a sharp look at 18th century anti-Semitism with a modern resonance

    The saga of England’s so-called Jew Law of 1753, made law and then repealed within six months, is a little known episode in Anglo-Jewish history that nonetheless has considerable resonance today. It has now been brought into sharp focus in the latest book by East End born and bred Yoel Sheridan, (whom East End contemporaries may remember as Julius Shrensky, Read More
  • JEECS News Update: Jan 2022

    Holocaust Memorial Day Walk: January 30. Covid has ruled out the normal events in the East End this year. However I shall be doing my annual walk, The Jewish East End – World War 2 and the Holocaust, on Sunday January 30. This is a free event, but needs to be booked through my email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  We will meet at Aldgate Read More
  • Isaac Rosenberg: a great war poet for the 21st Century

    Born in Bristol but brought up in the East End, the multi-talented Isaac Rosenberg has been unduly neglected. Two of his biographers, Jean Liddiard and Jean Moorcroft Wilson, wrote articles for The Cable, the JEECS magazine, in 2006 and 2008 respectively aiming to redress the balance. Both are fascinating reads, and are now here on our website to mark the anniversary Read More
  • The Whitechapel of Isaac Rosenberg

    We have a fascinating guided walk on Sunday November 21 commemorating the great East End war poet and artist Isaac Rosenberg. The date is the closest Sunday to the anniversary of his birth in 1890. Read More
  • Banners commemorate Petticoat Lane’s past, present and future

    The revitalisation of Petticoat Lane, London’s oldest Sunday street market still in operation, continues apace with the unveiling next week of the community banners, commemorating many aspects of market life, along Wentworth Street and into Middlesex Street. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

For the old Jeecs site, visit www.jeecs.org.uk/archive