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'The medieval Jewish community in Ipswich was extinguished with Edward I's expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 (Davis 1890). When Jews were officially permitted to re-enter the country in 1656 they settled first of all in London, and it was not until the 18th century that they began to establish themselves again in provincial towns...

It is likely that the earliest Jewish settler in Ipswich in modern times was Sarah Lyon, who died in 1807 at the advanced age of 105 (7 Nov. 1807). Traditions preserved among her descendants held that she had emigrated from the Netherlands with a nine-month-old son. Her house in Ipswich was inscribed with a quotation from The Haggadah, 'Let all who are hungry enter and eat'. 

The Ipswich Jewish community in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Robert Halliday & Bernard Susser

A synagogue was built in Rope Walk Ipswich in 1792 and a cemetery established in 1796, this is no longer in use but there remains a Jewish burial area in the Ipswich Municipal cemetery. The community gradually moved away in the mid to late 19th century and the synagogue fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1877.The number of Jews in Suffolk is not known but the Census of 2001 showed that 654 were identified as living in Suffolk. 


Current Community 

A small group of friends,  all members  of Colchester and District Jewish Community,  decided to try to set up a Jewish group in Ipswich, as they all lived there, after meeting each other in shul for Rosh Hashanah 2003.  The Suffolk Jewish Group was launched on Tu B’Shvat 2004,  for a windy walk along Old Felixstowe sea front and Tu B’Shvat celebrations outside the Ferry Boat Inn.  The idea of the group attracted a lot of interest and this was buoyed along by the rabbinical  leadership of Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, who at the time was Liberal Judaism's Outreach Rabbi.  Aaron would create the most wonderful atmosphere,  playing on his guitar and singing for Friday night shabbat services.

Since those beginnings we have received a lot of support from Liberal Judaism,  and became affiliated to LJ about 8 years ago.  Group planning has been undertaken by various people, and our thanks go to Sue Hayes, Arlene Mordish, Elizabeth Sugarman for their early pioneering work, also Michael Cohen,  Michael Kingsley,   and to  Barry Spivack for his ongoing support with planning and taking services.   We have welcomed a string of Student Rabbis to take services,  and other Rabbis,  including Rabbi Danny Rich ,  Rabbi Margaret Jacobi,  Rabbi David Hulbert and others .  Ruth Seager, the current chair of LJ, has also taken services for us.  We are indebted to people’s warm generosity in delivering these services , and helping to create a nurturing and inviting community.  Recently Rabbi Anna Posner took services for us,  before everything was relocated to  online.  Rabbi Charley Baginsky also took an online  service during Lockdown.  We have greatly benefited from the learning and wisdom of these spiritual teachers.  Nick Shire-Feldman provided lay leadership over years,  also helping with education of people interested in Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

 We now have a membership of about 25 people , including a few families.  We are managed by a small group  (Jill Ellis, Helen Brown, Daisy Lees, Carry Gorney) , who continue to add imagination and energy to our current situation of generating community during Lockdown.  We are indebted to Noah Goldsworthy for his support whilst a member of the Steering Group,  for creating our new website,  and launching the new look newsletter.   SLJC is  unable to afford our own allocated Rabbi and Volunteer Lay Readers regularly take services and we are indebted to them:  Ruth Stone,  Barry Spivack and hopefully Noah.  Also Nick Shire-Feldman is available to take online services.

Old Book


  •    Suffolk Archives (Suffolk Stories)

 Lead person -  Hannah Salisbury of Suffolk Archives

  • Harwich Kindertransport Memorial and Education Trust

                                    Lead person - Mike Levy

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