The early years
On a cold winter’s day in November 1855, Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler opened Jews’ College in Finsbury Square, in the heart of London. As early as 1841, Sir Moses Montefiore initiated the idea of establishing a training college for religious leaders. Within a short period of time, the college produced scholars of standing who served Jewish communities in Britain and across her Empire.
A quarter of a century later in 1881, the College outgrew the Finsbury Square site and moved to Tavistock Square, close to University College, where it was hoped that Jews’ College students would be able to combine their religious studies with a university degree course. In 1904, the University of London granted an Honours degree in Hebrew and Aramaic, all of the students being from Jews’ College. In 1932, the College moved to Woburn House, a purpose-built communal centre housing many organisations serving Anglo-Jewry.
The war and its aftermath
During the war years, despite the Blitz, the College kept its doors open and looked to build for the post-war future. Apart from the rabbinical studies and degree course, Chazzanut courses and teacher training programmes were now offered. In 1954, the College moved to larger premises in Montague Place.
A new site
Under the auspices of Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks, later to become Chief Rabbi, the College relocated to its current building, Schaller House in Hendon, North-West London, a large and modern campus close to the hub of London’s Jewish community.
A new lease of life
With dramatic changes in Anglo-Jewry, Jews’ College rebranded itself as London School of Jewish Studies 1999, shifting its focus to secure a vibrant future as hub of academic study and lifelong learning, catering to a wide spectrum of the community and attracting world-class Rabbis and educators. We are proud to have the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis as our President, and , R Joseph Dweck the Spiritual Head of the Sephardi Community as our Deputy President. In 2004, a new Council headed by Howard Stanton, appointed Dr Raphael Zarum and Dr Tamra Wright to rejuvenate LSJS.
In the last seven years LSJS has grown into to a world-class learning centre. On its Hendon campus there are some fifty teachers providing adult education courses, degree and teacher training programmes for over seven hundred students. LSJS’s imaginative courses, high intellectual standards, educational tours, and outreach to synagogues making an impact on thousands of people, have created a buzz across Anglo-Jewry.
More than 150 years after it first opened, LSJS is still growing.