© Marcus Roberts (2012)


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While the demise of the synagogue in the wake of the conversion of its rabbi, lead to the suspension of organised religious life in Bedford, it did not lead to the end of Jewish life in the town. Both the Levy and Lyon family remained in place in Bedford. It is interesting to note that these families, who provided two out of three of the founders of the Bedford community, had already been closely connected in the "old country". The Levy family was from Conroydt in old Prussia and the Lyon family lived only some six miles away and knew each other well and evidently kept up this family alliance in England. Also, we know that Godfrey Levy and Joseph Lyon, had both arrived alone to England to make their way in the world as young men of about 18 years old.

These facts about the Lyon and Levy family are known through an inquiry about the eligibility of the two to vote in the disputed 1830 and 1832 borough elections. The voting dispute revealed a rift in the community which was not helped by the fact that Joseph Lyons daughter, Sheba, had earlier given birth to two illegitimate daughters - one the child of a musician Frederick Hooper.

Also, not helping, was an acrimonious dispute about the remaining property in the defunct synagogue in 1829. It appears that Joseph Lyon claimed that he had property in the synagogue that he wanted back now the synagogue was defunct. He broke into the synagogue to get it, but was thwarted by Henry "Levy" (probably Leveaux) and the Mayor's sergeant. After a fearful altercation and Leveaux not giving way, Lyon locked them and others, in, and came back with constables as reinforcements. No further progress was made and Lyon left Leveaux in possession of the building. However once he had gone Lyon came back and took what he said was his (some £150 of religious paraphernalia) which he spirited away. It is likely that the property was his - else he would have most likely been arrested for theft - and had been used by or donated to the community and that he had felt a right to reclaim it as the synagogue and the community appeared defunct. Lyon's property may have included the Torah scroll because when worship was revived a scroll had to be acquired from outside of Bedford.

This unhappy demise of the formal community continued until 1837 when the community was revived and worship was held once more, this time in Offa Street.

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