LIVERPOOL, seaport in N.W. England. It seems probable that Jews settled there before 1750, since in 1752 there was a "Synagogue Court" off Stanley Street and a Jewish place of worship, as the 1753 Liverpool Memorandum Book confirms. The site of this early synagogue and a picture of its facade have also been discovered in a map of Liverpool dated 1765. John Wesley refers to the excellent relations which the local Jews enjoyed with their Christian neighbors (Journal, entry of April 14, 1755). About 20 Jews are listed in the Liverpool Directory for 1790, some of whom bear names that inspired the unsubstantiated theory that the original community was Sephardi. They were mostly peddlers and traders catering to the seafaring population and included Benjamin Goetz (or Yates), a seal-engraver described as the "Jews' High Priest" (ḥazzan?).
The "Old" Hebrew Congregation was organized, or reorganized, at Turton Court in 1780. Its first cemetery was acquired nine years later and its Yiddish regulations drawn up in 1799. The first synagogue, built on a site in Seel Street donated by the Liverpool Corporation, was consecrated in 1808. The congregation's present handsome building on Princes Road was constructed in 1874. In the early 19th century the congregation's preacher was Tobias *Goodman, whose sermons are thought to have been the first delivered in English at a synagogue in the British Isles. Internal conflicts led to a secession in 1838, and to the subsequent establishment of a rival congregation at Hope Place. By about 1860, Liverpool's Jewish community, then numbering around 3,000, was second in size to London's. Toward the end of the 19th century, Russian and Polish refugees reached Liverpool on their way to America; a number remained to modify the character of Liverpool Jewry. A Levantine Sephardi community also existed between 1892 and 1914, and a small Liberal synagogue was established in 1928. A Liverpool and District Rabbinate was set up in 1904, its first two incumbents being Samuel Jacob *Rabinowitz, an
Charles Mozley became the city's first Jewish mayor in 1863, and there were subsequently four other Jewish lord mayors. Important civic and other dignities were filled by the *Benas and *Cohen families and by Lord *Cohen of Birkenhead. Isaiah *Raffalovich and Izak *Goller were other prominent figures in latter-day communal history. The monthly Liverpool Jewish Gazette (1947– ) mirrored the local scene, while the Zionist Central Council (1898) and the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council (1944) coordinated the community's activities. In the mid-1990s, the Jewish population numbered approximately 4,000. The 2001 British census recorded 2,698 declared Jews in Liverpool. At the outset of the 21st century, the city had four Orthodox and a Progressive synagogue, and a range of Jewish institutions.
Roth, Mag Bibl, index; Lehman, Nova Bibl, index; L. Wolf, History and Genealogy of the Jewish Families of Yates and Samuel of Liverpool (1901); P. Ettinger, "Hope Place" in Liverpool Jewry (1930); C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 82; B.B. Benas, in: JHSET, 17 (1953), 23–37; Goodman, in: In the Dispersion, nos. 5–6 (1966), 52–67; G.E. Silverman, in: Niv ha-Midrashiyyah (Spring 1970), 74–81, English section.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.