New End Theatre becomes Hampstead Village’s first ever synagogue
The old iconic New End Theatre has been transformed into Hampstead Village’s first ever synagogue.
The inside of the old playhouse has been gutted, with the steep banks of theatre seats removed and replaced with a plush boutique prayer house – complete with bonsai trees and comfy chairs.
All traces of the theatre have disappeared inside The Village Shul in New End except the bar area upstairs, which is still packed out on Friday nights after Rabbi Yisroel Weisz has delivered his service.
For the last four years Rabbi Weisz and his wife Devorah Leah have relied on the willingness of the congregation to host meetings in their homes.
Rabbi Weisz said: “We have seen how it can be done at other synagogues, but we decided that, like Hampstead, this one should be boutique.
“When you go to church or synagogue the seats are usually the least comfortable to sit on, but here everyone will get to sit in a nice comfy chair.”
The average age of the congregation is mid 30s and for religious festivals The Village Shul pulls in crowds of 150 people with standing room only in the prayer hall.
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The synagogue was funded by donations from Hampstead’s Jewish community and others further afield.
“We thought we would get a few complaints after we moved into the New Theatre, but we have had nothing but compliments for the design and feel of the place,” said Rabbi Weisz.