Jewish life in London?
September 18, 2008 4:27 AM   Subscribe

What parts of London have the biggest Jewish communities?

I guess what I'm looking for is a sort of Jewish London primer. I'm interested in knowing what areas of London have a large Jewish population, how religious (Modern Orthodox or Hasidic, e.g.) those communities are, and what is the general quality of life in those communities (affluence, crime, etc.).

I've heard of Hendon, Golders Green, Wembley, and Stamford Hill but don't know much about them or any other community. Any and all info appreciated.
posted by bluekrauss to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not Jewish, but when I was living in Hampstead and wanted to buy some Kosher yummies, Golders Green never failed me.
posted by three blind mice at 4:43 AM on September 18, 2008

Everybody I knew who lived in Hendon and Wembley in the 70s and 80s has decamped to places like Radlett in Herts. Anecdotes are not data, of course, but I'll suggest it's possible that the remaining Jewish communities up in Middlesex may be shrinking with age.

Stamford Hill is best known for having lots of Hasidim. The neighbourhood is very multi-ethnic; very 'inner-city' working class, nestled between Hackney and Tottenham on one of the louder arterial roads running out of town. It's a little dicey at night but no more than any other part of London with bored male teenagers on the street after dark.

Golders Green is a much nicer part of the world altogether. It's not obviously home to one form of Judaism more than another.

Mrs Genghis suggests you want to look at lists of all synagogues like this one, which actually suggests another 'centre' of multiple synagogues in the Borough of Redbridge (makes sense, there's quite a lot of Jewish food stores round there these days), to identify other possible places. South Woodford->Gants Hill->Barkingside->Ilford is between quite and VERY affluent, and though clearly there are a lot of Jews in the area, it's not something you would notice walking down the street.

You're not telling us where you're from, nor why you want to know, so there's a limit to how much useful info and advice I can think of without projecting.
posted by genghis at 4:49 AM on September 18, 2008

If you have the time and want to take a more indepth look at the Orthodox Jewish community in Hendon, I'd highly recommend reading Naomi Alderman's novel Disobedience, which won the Orange Prize for New Writers and offers a real window into life and religion in that community. I don't know much about other Jewish areas in London, but Wikipedia lists some more.
posted by Kirjava at 5:41 AM on September 18, 2008

The traditional Jewish area of London is the East End.

N-thing Golders Green. It's near Hampstead Heath, which is a great place to go for a panoramic view of London.
posted by lukemeister at 5:42 AM on September 18, 2008

I work in Hatton Garden, which is the jewellery quarter and has a very high number of Jewish businesses - no idea how many people, Jews or otherwise, actually live around here, but during the day Orthodox Jews are a very common sight for the five or six blocks around my work.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:00 AM on September 18, 2008

Everybody I knew who lived in Hendon and Wembley in the 70s and 80s has decamped to places like Radlett in Herts.

There's a socio-economic as well as a religious angle to the distribution and ongoing diaspora. Radlett and neighbouring areas in S. Herts (Eltstree, Stanmore etc) have absorbed a lot of the more affluent of the community from north-west and earlier east London suburbs but places like Hendon, Golders Green and Finchley are still home to an awful lot of middle-class and lower middle-class Jews. The truly wealthy will always be in Hampstead irrespective of their affiliation / level of observance and the Haredi community of Stamford Hill is a bit of a fixture and pretty immune to the north-bound drift.

I also work near Hatton Garden and, whilst many orthodox Jews work in the diamond district, few live in Clerkenwell or Holborn.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 6:51 AM on September 18, 2008

These maps of London that the Guardian produced in 2005 might be useful.
posted by Helga-woo at 6:56 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Basically, these days, north-west London.

The stretch of adjacent areas, getting less expensive as you move out of the centre of town: St Johns Wood (where Jews live side-by-side with Arabs)-Hampstead-Hampstead Garden Suburb-Golders Green-Hendon-> and out towards the counties of Hertfordshire and Middlesex into suburbs such as Finchley, Barnet and Mill Hill.

St Johns Wood and Hampstead are expensive areas of prime real estate. The Israeli ambassador lives in a mansion on Avenue Road, which is on the edge of St Johns Wood.

The Jewish Free School is in Kenton, which I think is in Middlesex. Prime Jewish private schools are North London Collegiate (for girls) which is in Stanmore, Middlesex; and (for boys) UCS, in Hampstead, and Haberdashers Askes, in Hertfordshire. You will find families congregating around these places and their transport routes.

On a map you'll see all these areas are more or less contiguous.

The East End is no longer a centre of the Jewish community, IMO, except for the orthodox community around Stamford Hill.
posted by londongeezer at 7:22 AM on September 18, 2008

Here's a direct link to the Jewish map from Helga-woo's link. Strongly supports londongeezer's observation that it's basically north-west London.
posted by vacapinta at 8:08 AM on September 18, 2008

The East End is no longer a centre of the Jewish community

Right, I didn't mean to imply that. I was trying to say that a historical tour would be interesting.
posted by lukemeister at 9:46 AM on September 18, 2008

There's a substantial Jewish population right around the Swiss Cottage/Finchley Road area, which fits the NW_ pattern nicely.

In my experience, there are more observant Jews the further north and west you go--Hampstead Garden Suburb and Golders Green are places where you'll see plenty of kippot and wigs. Not so much closer to St Johns Wood.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:41 AM on September 18, 2008

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