Visit by local artists - August 2022
On Tuesday 2 August 2022, the synagogue hosted a visit by 17 local artists, arranged by the Rochester & West Kent Art Society
The synagogue was pleased to provide this opportunity for the local artists to sketch and paint our historic grade 2* listed building.
The synagogue is committed to increased engagement with the wider community. Please see details below, regarding our forthcoming open days.
The graphite sketch opposite is by Nab Zamali
Heritage Open Days - September 2022
The synagogue will be holding Heritage Open Days on Sunday 11 September and Sunday 18 September.
For further details, please click on the button opposite.
Medway Light Nights - February 2022
The synagogue was illuminated in the middle of February, as part of Medway Light Nights, as can be seen in the photos below
Holocaust Memorial Day - 27 January 2022
This year, due to the continuing Covid situation, the Medway Holocaust Day Event was a virtual event, hosted on the Medway Libraries YouTube Channel. This year's theme is One Day.
The video is a compilation of presentations by local schools, Kent Police, Medway Youth Council, The Canon Chancellor of Rochester Cathedral, The Bishop of Tonbridge and the Mayor of Medway.
There was a Psalm sung by Rochester Cathedral Choir and prayers by representatives of Chatham memorial Synagogue, Medway Inter-Faith Action and Medway Youth Council.
The link https://youtu.be/YsWPcNMFz-I will be live indefinitely.
Details of the year's event and previous events can be found on the Holocaust Memorial Day page
The 2023 event will be in Rochester Cathedral and the 2024 event will be in the synagogue.
JustGiving update -28 December 2021
Virgin Money Giving stopped accepting donations on 30 November 2021. If you made a regular payment to the synagogue through Virgin Money Giving, it will have been cancelled and you will need to set the payment up through Just Giving.
You are now able to make one-off or regular donations via Just Giving using the link on the button opposite.
Please ensure that you authorise Just Giving to share your data with Chatham Memorial Synagogue, otherwise your payment will be anonymous and we won't know who it is from.
Chatham Memorial synagogue is independent and therefore able to make decisions on what we think is right for our community.
During the period when the synagogue was closed from March 2020 to June 2021, we held all our services on Zoom and these were very successful with a minyan at nearly every service. We did this as a way of keeping our community together while being physically apart. During this period our congregation included people from around the UK and from places as far afield as Israel, the USA and Australia. When we reopened at the end of June with Covid restrictions, the decision was taken unanimously to continue holding services on Zoom simultaneously. Our congregation was almost 50-50 in person and on Zoom. Since June, including the High Holydays, this decision was justified by the number of people who have joined us on Zoom, who were unable to join us in person. The pandemic has taught us, as a community, that 21st Century technology can aid us in the way we practice our religion.
Medway Walk for Peace
The 2022 Medway Walk for Peace took place on Saturday 2 September and commenced with an Interfaith Service for Peace at the Naval Memorial, Great Lines, Gillingham and visited several religious sites along the route. In previous years, before the pandemic, the Medway Walk for Peace has come into the synagogue as part of its route and the walkers joined the synagogue congregation for peace prayers.
In these uncertain times, Chatham Memorial Synagogue is pleased and proud to be associated with the Medway Walk for Peace.
During the pandemic
In line with other Jewish communities around the country, the synagogue closed in March 2020 due to Covid-19. The synagogue remained closed until our first tentative socially distanced Friday evening service on 25 June 2021.
During the closure, we held 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 also held very successful services on Zoom for the 2020 High Holydays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. A former member 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.
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 lit Chanukah candles on Zoom and have made Havdalah on Zoom once a month. 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. 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 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.
Since we have started holding services again in the synagogue, they have been Covid-safe, with masks, sanitiser and social distancing. Attendance is limited and by prior arrangement only.
We will continue to make Havdalah on Zoom on the first Saturday of each month.
Please see our What's On page for details of upcoming services and events.
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. The book is available on Amazon .
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 www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
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
Virgin Money Giving will no longer accept charity donations after 30 November 2021.
You can now make one-off or regular donations via JustGiving by clicking the button opposite.
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 2021 and 2022.
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 19 August
Next monthly service
Saturday 3 September
Sunday, 11 September
Heritage Open Day
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 Just Giving.
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
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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.