The Federation of Synagogues is a British Jewish organisation with headquarters in Hendon, London. It comprises a network of 19 constituent and seven affiliated communities.
As well as looking after its member synagogues , the Federation has a beis din, a Burial Society and runs a Kosher Food Licensing organisation that issues local kosher catering licences as well as undertaking product certification at home and abroad.
The Federation Beis Din’s dayonim are internationally recognised authorities and are available to discuss halachic matters. As a formal beis din they hear civil cases and deal with matrimonial matters.
The current av beis din (chief rabbi) of the Federation is Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman.
The Federation was first established in 1887, primarily due to the vision and efforts of Samuel Montagu MP (later to become the first Lord Swaythling). Montagu, a prosperous banker who was pious and generous as well as practical, saw a need to unify the numerous small and mostly ill-housed congregations and chevras that had mushroomed in London’s East End following the mass influx of refugees from anti-Semitic terror in Imperial Russia.
The relationship between the newcomers and the existing Anglicised community was an uncomfortable one; the immigrants suspected the Orthodoxy of the English Jews, while the latter, who lived and worshipped in greater affluence, tended to look down on their less fortunate brethren – who were by now a majority, but with no effective say in community affairs.
“..The Federation of Synagogues is…amongst the greatest and most generous Jewish religious organisations in the world. By its insistence on traditional values and by its deep sympathy with every Jewish cause, it has swung itself into the mainstream of Jewish history.”
More recently, another Anglo-Jewish historian, Geoffrey Alderman made this evaluation: "The Federation has experienced a remarkable renaissance in recent years. It’s in a far better state now than it was in 1987, with renewed growth in greater London and in Manchester and with what is arguably the most intellectually prestigious Beis Din in Europe. Lord Samuel Montagu’s model for the Federation was to provide central services for small kehillos who wished to retain their independence while enjoying the support of a communal structure. This is exactly what is happening today—the younger generations do not want great cathedral synagogues, they want small, cosy shtiebels in which they can play a leading role."
- 1887: Nathan Rothschild
- 1888: Samuel Montagu
- 1911: Louis Montagu
- 1928: Morry Davis
- 1945: Aaron Wright
- 1948: Jack Goldberg
- 1951: Morry Lederman
- 1989: Arnold Cohen
- 2001: Alan Finlay
- 2014: Andrew Cohen
Interaction with government
In 1946 Rabbi Dr Yaacov Kopul Rosen, representing the Federation, testified before the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine, asking them not to "play politics with the remnants of the Jewish people."
In 2019, there was a need to interact with UK government regarding gender separation of religious schools, writing to Education Secretary Damian Hinds that "Under no circumstances will Charedi schools dilute their passionately held beliefs."
- "Communities – The Federation of Synagogues". Federation.org.uk. Retrieved 2020-01-05.
- "Progress for women at Federation synagogues". www.thejc.com. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- "Beis Din – The Federation of Synagogues". www.federation.org.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- "Burial – The Federation of Synagogues". www.federation.org.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- "JCR-UK: Federation of Synagogues Edmonton Cemetery (Main Index), London, UK". www.jewishgen.org. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- "KF Kosher – The Federation of Synagogues". www.federation.org.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- Geoffrey., Alderman (1987). The Federation of Synagogues, 1887-1987. London: The Federation. ISBN 0900145714. OCLC 24761683.
- "MS 248 Papers of the Federation of Synagogues | Special Collections | University of Southampton". www.southampton.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- "ROTH, Cecil". Who Was Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "History – The Federation of Synagogues". www.federation.org.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- History Updated: The Federation From 1887–2015
- "6 WITNESSES PLEAD TO FREE PALESTINE: Rabbi Calls on Anglo-U.S. Body to Shun Politics--Jews Are Invited by Dominicans". The New York Times. January 29, 1946.
- Doreen Wachmann (19 June 2019). "Gateshead Rav in Talks to Head Federation of Synagogues". The Jewish Press.
- "Federation's Beth Din head, Dayan Lichtenstein, to stand down after 30 years". JewishNews. March 19, 2019.
- Yonoson Rosenblum (10 July 2019). "Next Stop, London". Mishpacha.