Gabriel Lancaster MBE - 1922-2021 - Synagogue Life President
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the peaceful passing of our Synagogue’s Life President, Gabriel Lancaster MBE, at the age of 99.
Gabriel served our community well for many years, latterly and notably as our Life President.
Among numerous roles, he is best remembered for conducting school visits around the synagogue, for representing our community on the Board of Deputies and for his commitment and dedication to further interfaith relations.
He is also fondly remembered for blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah and at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, which can be seen in the photo.
May the Almighty comfort his family and may his memory always be for a blessing.
At a committee meeting on 26 May 2021, it was agreed that the synagogue would reopen initially for Friday evening services on 25 June, with limited numbers by prior arrangement only and with strict Covid measures in place. Services will also be on Zoom, for those unable to attend in person. The Shabbat morning service on Saturday 3 July, will be on Zoom only. A decision regarding the service on Saturday 7 August will be taken nearer the time.
We will continue to make Havdalah on Zoom on the first Saturday of each month.
In line with other Jewish communities around the country, the synagogue closed in March 2020 due to Corona Virus. This terrible pandemic is something not seen in over 100 years and the most important thing was for everyone to keep safe.
During the pandemic , we have been holding services on Zoom, initially on Friday evenings, then monthly on Shabbat mornings. These were well attended by our regular congregants, as well as others connected with the synagogue from farther afield. We have also held very successful services for the High Holydays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah on Zoom. A former member has joined us regularly from Israel and even led parts of our services from there. Family members and friends have joined our services from France, Portugal, Canada, Australia and South Africa. It has been encouraging to note that some people have joined our Zoom services, who would not be able to attend the synagogue itself. This includes elderly relatives of our members.
Recent and Future Events
We continued holding weekly Friday evening services and monthly Shabbat morning services on Zoom. Our service on Friday 13 November was expanded to include content for Inter Faith Week and was attended by members of various religious communities. We also enjoyed communal candle lighting on Zoom on the first, third and eighth evenings of Chanukah. We also made Havdalah on Zoom for the first time before lighting the third candle. On Saturday 2 January, we celebrated an online Bar Mitzvah - a truly historic occasion, which was attended on Zoom by family members in the USA (At 4:30 am local time). We also participated in a virtual Medway Holocaust Memorial Day event and celebrated the New Year for tees with a Tu B'Shevat Seder. On Saturday 6 February, we met on Zoom for a chat over coffee after Havdalah . On Sunday 28 February, we held a virtual Purim party, with a reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther). We also held a virtual communal Seder on the 2nd evening of Passover. On 5 June, we held our first Bat Mitzvah on Zoom, attended by family members in several states in the USA. For them it was a great mitzvah, as the service started at either 4:30 am or 5:30am. We made our first tentative steps back into the synagogue on Friday 25 June - see "Latest News" above.
Please see our What's On page for details of upcoming services and events.
Our congregants will continue to receive updates about services and events by email, together with Zoom links.
You can keep in touch with what is happening via our Facebook page.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 - Be a Light in the Darkness
The 2021 Medway Holocaust Memorial Day event is a virtual event because of the Corona Virus pandemic. it contains an introduction from the Mayor of Medway and presentations from local schools, Kent Police and the Medway Youth Council as well as prayers by representatives of the synagogue, MIIFA and MYC. A boy called Jack who recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, recorded a video about the Yad Vashem twinning project. All contributions were pre-recorded.
You can watch the event on the Medway Libraries YouTube channel by clicking the button below. The link will still be available after 27 January 2021.
Foreigners, Aliens, Citizens
This book about the history of Medway and its Jewish community from 1066 - 1939, written by synagogue committee member and local historian Irina Fridman, has now been published.
The book provides a comprehensive history of one of the largest provincial Jewish communities of Victorian Britain and fills in a gap in both Jewish and local historiography. Starting with the puzzle of the first Jewish community of Rochester in the 12th and 13th centuries, it then proceeds to the aftermath of the Jewish expulsion from the country and the return of the Jewish community to England in the 17th century. This pioneering study concentrates on closely examining the inception and the development of the Jewish community within the religious, social and political landscapes of the Medway towns of Rochester and Chatham throughout the centuries, until the 1930s, just before the Second World War. Available on Amazon (currently in the UK only)
Damage to graves in the cemetery behind the synagogue
It has been widely reported in both the local and national press that several gravestones have been upended and smashed in the old cemetery behind Chatham Memorial Synagogue.
This was reported to Kent Police on 8 October and we are grateful to them for their swift response to this dreadful crime.
If you have any information that may help the police with their enquiries, you can call them on 01634 792209. The crime reference is 46/194406/19. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or .
Photo Credit: Dalia Halpern-Matthews
National Hate Crime Week
At Chatham Memorial Synagogue, we are always grateful for the support of our Community Liaison Officer Bob Mahay and Kent Police and in turn we support the work they do to keep all our communities safe. Last Saturday evening, Bob Mahay organised an event at St Mark's Church in Gillingham, as part of National Hate Crime Week. From the synagogue, Jon Weiner and Dalia Halpern-Matthews took part in this important event. Jon Weiner read a prayer, written for the occasion, alongside representatives of other religions who also read prayers. We stand alongside our brothers and sisters of all faiths, in the face of intolerance and hatred.
Donations to the Synagogue
To make an online donation to Chatham Memorial Synagogue via Virgin Money Giving, please clink on this icon:
Also check out our new campaign page for the cemetery and security:
Medway Walk for Peace - Service for Peace
The 2019 Medway Walk for Peace joined the congregation in the synagogue at the end of our Shabbat morning service on Saturday 6 July, for a short Service for Peace. This is the fourth year that the Medway Walk for Peace has come into the synagogue, en route from Gillingham to Rochester. Members of the congregation joined the remainder of the walk to the War Memorial, after the service.
In these uncertain times, Chatham Memorial Synagogue is pleased and proud to be associated with the Medway Walk for Peace.
150th Anniversary 2015
2015 was the 150th anniversary of the laying of the Synagogue's foundation stone. Our celebrations included a Collection of Cultures and a Civic Service. Both anniversary events are featured in our blog - see below.
A booklet about the history of the synagogue and the community was issued to commemorate this important anniversary, as shown in the image opposite.
Click the button to order the commemorative booklet via this web site.
Kent Police - Run, Hide, Tell
Kent Police have asked us to circulate a poster, advising us what to do in the event of an attack on the synagogue
- click the button to display the poster.
Welcome to the web site of the Chatham Memorial Synagogue We hope that our website highlights the variety of our community events and services. Please feel free to read more about our synagogue on this site, or join us for one of our services or events. Visitors are always welcome, together with old and new members of the community.
Built in 1869 by Simon Magnus, in memory of his son Lazarus, on the site of an even older Synagogue, Chatham Memorial Synagogue is the home of the Jewish community in mid and north Kent.
Chatham Memorial Synagogue is actually located in historic Rochester on the River Medway in the county of Kent, about 35 miles south-east of London and only 35 minutes by high speed train from St Pancras (45 minutes from Victoria).
Although we are a small community we hold services for Shabbat every Friday evening and once a month (usually on the first Saturday morning of each calendar month, but it can vary (see our What’s On page). There is a Kiddush provided by the Guild after each of these services.
We also hold a range of services on the various Jewish festivals and a full set of services on the High Holydays.
Find out about our up and coming events and festivals. Everything relating to our varied programme of community events can be found on our What’s on page.
Our festival calendar is regularly updated and now includes dates for 2020 and 2021.
Check out what's happening in the synagogue over the next few weeks
Find out about our events calendar for the coming year. Everything from our religous services to our open community events.
Dates for your diary
Next weekly service
Friday 16 July
Next monthly service
Saturday 7 August
To be advised
Latest News | CMS Blog
See whats been happening recently in our community.
It is now possible to make online donations to Chatham Memorial Synagogue via Virgin Money Giving.
Please click on the logo to go to make your donation
At Chatham Memorial Synagogue, we fully support the principal of Inter-Faith dialogue. With all the problems and uncertainty in the world today, it is very important that the representatives of the major faiths stand together in support of the values which we share in common. Therefore we are pleased to have been elected a corporate member of the Medway Inter-Faith Action Forum (MIFA) with a seat on its executive committee.
See below for the 2020 programme
View images of our beautiful synagogue and our community activities.
Find out more about how to contact us and where to find our beautiful synagogue.