During the Second World War, a number of Jewish families were evacuated
to the Maidenhead area and met in each other's homes for prayers. After
the war ended some families returned to London, while others decided to
remain. In 1953 a band of some twenty dedicated members purchased "Studlands" a large Victorian house in Boyn Hill Avenue which we occupied until the end of April 2001. In the early years the congregation was led by the Reverend Rosenbloom, but - because our membership was only about sixty families - our part time minister soon left us for a larger community in Brighton.
Throughout the 1960s we only held services on Friday evenings. These were led by a lay reader, Alf Shear, who also taught a small group of children on Sunday mornings. We used the Singer's prayer book, chanting the whole service in Hebrew in the traditional manner. There were no regular Sabbath morning or Festival services. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Alec Belkin - a Chazan who lived in London - came to Maidenhead to officiate.
It was in the late 1960s that we joined the Reform Movement. Bernard Davis, who was the Chairman of their Synagogue Development Committee at the time, agreed that our congregation would receive the services of student Rabbis studying at the Leo Baeck College. Throughout the 1970s we were privileged to enjoy the services of David Lilienthal, Bobby Silverman, Ernest Stein, Danny Smith, William Woolf, and Jonathan Romain, each of whom serviced our community on a part time basis for one or two years.
In 1980 Jonathan Romain became our first full time Rabbi. At that time our membership consisted of just 80 families. Over the intervening years we have grown not only in size but also in the range of activities we offer. We now have over 700 families in membership, a large and thriving Hebrew Class for children, we run classes in Hebrew, Jewish history and philosophy for adults, and our Rabbi leads a class for those wishing to convert to Judaism. We have a mother and toddler group, kindergarten, youth clubs, and during the day a social and cultural group and the Welcome Mat cater for older members. Our Network groups encourage new members to become involved and befriended. Further details of these and other activities may be found elsewhere on this site.
Because of our success, we outgrew the Boyn Hill site and moved to new premises – Grenfell Lodge - which we purchased in Autumn 2000. This complex has substantial buildings, gardens, and a playing field. It offers wonderful facilities. It serves as a community centre and Synagogue. Among the improved facilities are classrooms, an enlarged library/resource centre and sufficient office space for the rabbi and administrator.
The Prayer Hall is slightly larger than the old one was when all the partitions were opened and has an overflow room which doubles as a meeting room/classroom. There is a kitchen which services the Kiddush Hall where members can sit and chat and drink coffee and where many social events take place on a regular basis, and a shop for the sale of Kosher goods and Judaica. There is also a house for the resident caretaker.