© Marcus Roberts


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However in a survey of 1842, A.A. Levy reported that there were some 18 Jewish families in the congregation who were, "inferior to none in the country for religious zeal and devotion". Cheltenham appears to have been home to about a fifth of the Jewish population of the Western Counties - a total population of about 450 in 1850. The community probably reached its peak by 1850.

Between 1849-74, the synagogue experienced serious problems in retaining the services of their rabbis for any length of time. Most only stayed for short periods. In this period alone there were a total of ten ministers.

Apart from the permanent Jewish population, the town attracted a number of Jewish visitors, probably hawkers and pedlars of both Sephardic and Askenasic extraction, who passed through or stayed a while. These individuals were often picturesquely named and described such as - "Blackbeard...Levy the Turk; the Hollander, ...Noha Portigo; Shrior's countryman; Mordeai no beard; Moses Junior of Frankfurt..." etc. The established Jewish community largely worked around the High Street and lived in the centre of the town or to the immediate west of south of it. The visitors would some times stay in non-Jewish lodging houses and not necessarily with members of the community. Some of these visitors would not have attended the synagogue or had any involvement with the community.

The congregation expanded until 1871, though the number of Jews actually resident in Cheltenham (many were in Stroud, Gloucester, or Hereford) remained fairly static. The congregational figures largely benefitted from the decline of the Gloucester community and Jews joining from the new Stroud community. However the continued expansion of the congregational roll belays the fact that after 1850 Cheltenham Jews started to move away.

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