There is thought to be approximately 70,000 people of Israeli descent living in the UK, unsurprisingly a large majority of this number have chosen London as their home. The community of Israeli Britons in the UK are a mixture of Israeli-born and UK-born members; since this was not listed a separate category in the 2001 Census, it’s impossible to know the exact number of British citizens of Israeli descent.
The Jewish community in London is thriving, Golders Green , located in the Borough of Barnet is well known for its large Jewish population (it is also infamous for being home to the largest Jewish Kosher hub in the UK!). Many Jewish populations across Europe travel to London to see what all the fuss is about.
Despite the size of the Jewish community in London and the rest of the UK, it is a common assumption that Israeli-Jewish expatriates feel excluded from their local Jewish community. Interestingly, however, around 33% of Israeli-Jewish expatriates interviewed for a 2008 survey agreed that they felt more attached to their Jewish identity over Israeli. Despite a lack of involvement in their local Jewish community, Israeli expatriates continue to live in the areas with a large Jewish community, leading to suggest a perhaps suppressed desire to become more involved.
What Were The Motives For Mass Immigration To The UK?
While many would assume that the increased security threats and political instability were the main motives for expatriating Israelis, recent polls show that these factors feature fairly low on the list of motives for the average Israeli. High on the list include professional advancement and work opportunities. Consequently the influx of Israeli immigrants to the UK have been on average more educated than those who remain in Israel.
Notable Israelis in the UK
“Pamela, I am no longer attracted to you anymore...NOT!”
Quote taken from the 2006 British-American mockumentary “Borat”, spoken by none other than Sacha Baron Cohen, who frequently pokes fun at his own expense through the Jewish characters he portrays. Of his Israeli descent, he was quoted saying “I wouldn’t say I am a religious Jew. I am proud of my Jewish identity and there are certain things I do and customs I keep.” Among other famous names include: Uri Geller (of the “bendy spoon” fame), former Chelsea manager Avram Grant and footballer Yossi Benayoun.
JW3 Jewish Community Centre
“JW3 is the first Jewish Community Centre and arts venue of its kind to exist in London”. The centre was set up by English philanthropist Dame Vivien
Duffield, Chairman of the Clore Duffield Foundation. The Centre located on Finchley Road NW3, first opened in October 2013 and was hugely successful in its first year. The centre is working to bring the London community of Jews together under one roof, through engagement with arts and culture.
Jewish Museum London
The Jewish Museum promotes the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish community in London and the massive contribution of this community to London as a whole. The museum celebrates the history, culture and identity of Jews from all backgrounds in the UK and encourages people to engage in these themes, irrespective of background or faith. Check out the upcoming exhibitions, events and programmes here.
Anglo-Jewish Architecture At Its Best
There are an astounding number of synagogues in London, but arguably one of the most beautiful is the New West End Synagogue in St Petersburgh Place, Bayswater. It is the second synagogue in the UK to be granted grade 1 listed status. Originally constructed in 1879, it is one of Britain’s oldest synagogues and has one of the largest communities attending regular services and organised groups.