By ELLEN LEVITT
I am fascinated by cities, especially large, famous cities. As a lifelong resident of New York City, I enjoy traveling to other urban areas and experiencing them, comparing and contrasting them to my own city, and creating memories. And checking out there systems of public transportation (I am a "train nerd").My younger daughter and I visited Dublin, Ireland for one week in early August. Then later my husband, both daughters and I visited London, England for eight days. This was my seventh trip there, my husband's third, our older girl's second (but she barely remembered the first because she had only been about two years old then) and the first for our younger girl. So we did visit some of the typical tourist sights (Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery) but we also saw some things I had not visited previously: the Globe Theatre (and a Shakespeare performance there), the London Eye, the Abbey Road recording studios (best known for the Beatles, but other musicians as well), and the raucous Notting Hill Festival.And this time I finally sought out some "lost synagogues" of the East End of London. This region had been heavily Jewish in the mid-late 1800s through the first half of the 1900s. But now other neighborhoods of London are more heavily Jewish, such as St. John's Wood, Golders Green and so on.I had done research prior to my trip to London, making use of helpful websites. I also found that my best search-engine results came from asking about "disused synagogues in London". So one morning I let my family sleep later and I took the Underground to the Aldgate station and looked for one of the Santander bike share vehicles. I even brought my bike helmet! But I had forgotten my VISA card PIN so I could not rent a bike. Thus I walked around a section of the East End, with my helmet in my hand.But I did find a few former shuls. One is on Henriques Street, and is now used as housing. Another on Fieldgate Street, another on Princelet Street. I found the location of one that had been on another small lane but it appeared to be knocked down and replaced with a newer structure.I snapped pictures and tried to imagine what had once been a thriving Jewish area. This area is now heavily Muslim, and there were many mosques and Muslim signifiers (halal food signs, for example). And there is Jewry Street.Later that day my family and visited the St. John's Wood neighborhood, in order to visit the Abbey Road studios. And that's where I saw the St John's United Synagogue there. This is a large, attractive building and the spiritual home of a thriving community.AdvertisementApparently Jewish London never quite as many synagogues as did the five boroughs of New York City. But it has still experienced a lot of change over time, with examples of former shuls now reused. That is life.
var cont = `Stay Informed
As the war against Hamas unfolds, our unwavering newsroom remains committed to covering Israel's most profound crisis.
Sign up for our newsletter to get real-time news and in-depth analysis from our top reporters.