• on June 11, 2017

From the minutes: Synagogue Premises in the 1900’s

For many years of its existence, DHC seems to have no fixed premises. Instead rooms or a room was rented in various buildings in the town to be used as a synagogue. Frequently other rooms were rented for the High Holy Day services. The usual ones being perhaps too small to accommodate the larger numbers attending on these occasions. At the start of the 20th century a building fund was set up and money raised with a view to the community having their own premises. This does not seem to have been a quick or straightforward matter however and it seems to have been many years before the community eventually had its own synagogue in Victoria Rd, Darlington. There now follow extracts relating to premises gleaned from the minutes of the community. Once again I am indebted to Mr Harold Pollins for posing the original question about the DHC building fund after 1912 and premises for the community.

Unfortunately there seems to have been a building committee set up but not all their minutes (if any were kept!) are included in the book I have sight of.

1. There is no mention of premises in the minutes of Aug or Sept 29th 1912.

2. Below are extracts from the minutes of the AGM of Oct 13th 1912.

The secretary (B Kletz) pointed out that,” the success of the year’s work was due to the fact that harmony had been maintained and in consequence almost every Jewish resident of Darlington had contributed to the Congregational funds. The membership had grown to (number unclear but looks like 20 but could be 30) and there were contributing non-members.

Report of Building Committee; Mr (D?) Abrahams, chair of committee said, ” that he could not give much information on the matter, several meetings had been held and some of the members had been out to collect money for the fund. He thought that the Secretary and Treasurer of the committee would be better able to supply particulars”.

Mr Kletz said that he was not in a position to give a report of what had been done. He knew that Messrs Shiufko, Hirsh, Richardson and himself had collected in the immediate neighbourhood and some moeny had been collected in. He could hold out no hope of better results until things were worked systematically. It devolved upon the Chairman (not sure who this is, the President MrShiufko seems to take the chair at this andsubsequent meetings.) to see that work was being done. Treasurer Mr A Richardson told them that £239 had been promised, £161 received and £78 was outstanding. A balance of £4 was still owing to the bank. Mr Shiufko said that he had done some considerable work and ought to have done more. He said there was no management to do the work. There were others on the committee who had promised to help but had done nothing. He thought that the Chairman (who?) ought to have taken more interest…..

3. No mention of premises at all in meetings held in Jan, March and May 4th and May 11th 1913, or 2 meetings in Aug (General and Committee) 3 in Sept, 1913, AGM of Oct 19th 1913, Nov 2nd 1913.

4. Building Committee minutes. No date but written between Nov 2nd and Nov 30th 1913. E Shiufko, chairman, L Hirsh Treasurer unopposed. Committee D(?) Abrahams 13 (D?) Levi 11 (D?) Cohen 9 Samson Abrahams 4, H Abrahams 3. Messrs D Abrahams, D Levi and S (?) Cohen were declared elected.

Mr B Kletz having resigned as secretary to the congregation and building committee. The chairman called for fresh nominations. Mr Samson Abrahams was nominated Secretary to the Congregation by B Kletz, sec by A Levi. Mr (D or S) Cohen was nominated Secretary to the Building Committee by B Kletz, sec by M Raphael. There were no other nominations and they were declared elected. The meeting then nominated and elected an auditor and nominated wardens. (Think the minutes of the General Meeting and Building Committee meeting have been scrambled here. There was much discussion after wardens were elected at the AGM that the constitution did not allow. for this.) (A letter in the JC of September 1913 refers to 30 members. There were three Abrahams brothers: Samuel, Samson and Hyman. Hirsh should be Lipman Hush and there was a Max Raphal(sic – as spelled by him in his 1911 Census form). And there was a Simon Levi. I have mentioned theat the President was Ellius Sliufko but I daresay it was wrongly spelled in the minutes (it was a bit difficult to pronounce). Help from Mr Harold Pollins) May 2nd 1914 Committee meeting. Mr E Sliufko in the chair, Messrs S Levi, L Hush, A Richardson, A Raphael ( this time spelled clearly like this!), S Raphael, and Samson Abrahams.

“The business of finding New Rooms as a synagogue was brought forward. Three members of the Committee visited Rooms at Tanfields (??, unclear, initial letter could be S, F or indeed something else entirely) Bdgs although these were not exactly suitable it was decided that they would be better than nothing and Mr S Levi proposed and Mr L Hush secd. that someone should see Mr Watson the owner. Mr Sliufko, Mr S Cohen and Mr S Levi were decided upon to interview Mr Watson. ”

Committee meeting held Aug 14th 1914. Mr E Sliufko in the chair, Mr S Levi, Mr L Hush, AS/AD (?) Raphael and Samson Abrahams. ” Mr E Sliufko, AS Raphael and the Sec. interviewed Mr Chas Newman and he promised us the use of his Rooms for the High Festivals.”

At the AGM of Oct 25th 1914 appointments were made to the Building Committee Prop. S Abrahams, Sec. by H Abrahams that the building committee stand as before.

Chairman and Treasurer Mr L Hush, Secretary Mr B Kletz, Mr S Abrahams, S Levi, ?S Cohen. (Mr Cohen has an extra initial this time!)

General Meeting Nov 8th 1914. Heated discussions about arrears of fees, elections and then more discussions about accounts:

“Mr Hush brought forward that he had 2 a/c sent to him for stationery and printing etc & asked who should pay them as Portion was used for Shool business & Portion for Building Committee! Mr Samson Abrahams Prop. & Mr B Kletz Secd. that the larger Portion be Paid from Building Committee funds & The Smaller Portion from shool funds The meeting then closed with a vote of Thanks to the retiring officers. Prop. by Mr s Cohen & secd by Mr S Abrahams.”

Committee Meeting held Sun May 30th 1915 Mr S Levi in chair, Messrs E Sliufko, B Kletz, S Abrahams, S Raphael & Samson Abrahams.

“Certain members had asked for this meeting to be Calledfor the Purpose of bringing forward a scheme they had for a mickva. The Chairman & Sec had be given to understand that a Certain member namely Mr S Raphael Would Present all Particulars, but when Called upon to do so, He could not, or did not wish to. The Meeting Therefore Could not go on & was Closed.”

At the General Meeting of Sun Oct 24th 1915 a resolution was passed that the building Committee stand as before. proposed by S Abrahams, seconded by B Kletz. passed C.U. Nothing more about actual buildings so far despite the Building Committee obviously being still in existence/only reference to building at all is a letter read out by the Sec on Nov 7th 1915 General Meeting, ” from Tonypandy Synagogue Building Committee with Cards of Brick Stamps. (to be Returned).” Then nothing until Sept 3rd, 1916 when” Mr E Sliufko reported that he had secured Rooms for the High Festivals same as last year”.

More from the minutes on the subject of DHC synagogue premises. N.B The gaps between dates indicate nothing to do with premises was discussed.

Nov 15th 1916 Committee Meeting There is reference to seeking permission of the Liberal club Room for the use of Rev M Abrahams of Leeds, officiating clergyman of the Northern Command (military) to use for holding servicemen’ services on Sundays. N.B It is interesting to note that Mr Sliufko managed to obtain immediate permission from the Liberal Club agent for this by leaving the meeting for only a few minutes. Would seem to imply they are meeting in the Liberal Club.

Nov 26th 2016 Committee Meeting report by Mr S Abrahams in the Chair, that he had seen one Room which he thought would be suitable for synagogue but had others in view. It was decided to leave the matter in his hands.

Dec 10th 1916 Committee Meeting Mr S Abrahams chair, L Hush, B Kletz, E Sliufko. A Richardson, S Raphael, N Cohen and Samson Abrahams (all names spelled as above in minutes)

“The chairman reported he had seen Rooms which were suitable for a synagogue, lately occupied by Mr Beal which could be had at a Rental of £12-0-0 per annum and that he had given notice to the landlord of our Present Rooms which would terminate the 1st of January. Mr Sliufko moved to take Mr Beal’s Rooms. Mr S Raphael seconded.

Sun Aug 19th 1917 Committee Meeting. The first item on the agenda was Rooms for festivals. Mr E Sliufko said he had arranged for the same rooms as last year at the Liberal Club.

General Meeting April 11th 1920 Present Mr A Richardson, President in the chair, Messrs B Kletz, L Hush, N Wilson, M Jokelson, L Greeenbaum, M Musgrave, H Lewis, F Rachkind, I (J?) Cailler, Samson Abrahams and D Raphael.

“The secretary reported the result of his interview with Mr Campbell with regard to the tenancy of our Rooms. He offered to give up of the back room on the condition that the congregation be given an assured tenancyof the front room for a period of not less than two years at a rental of £12 per annum. On March 26th Mr Campbell wrote agreeing to these terms. He now asked the meeting to confirm the arrangement” (it did).

Annual General Meeting Sun Oct 24th 1920.

“Mr S Abrahams asked if anything further had been done with a view of selling the land in Coniscliffe Rd. The Secretary reported that nothing had developed since the last meeting. After some discussion it was decided to recommend to the Building Committee that an effort be made to dispose of it.”

(Do you think this means that DHC had bought land on which to build a synagogue but for some reason had not or were not able to do so? )

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