NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS BODIES
Jews or converted Jews taught Hebrew in the
university from the late 16th century onwards, but the
first Jew to set up business in the town after the Middle
Ages was probably the Jacob who opened Oxford's
first coffee-house in 1651. (fn. 2) Other Jews were occasionally recorded in the later 17th century, and in the 18th
century there seems to have been a small community in
the town. (fn. 3) A synagogue was reputedly opened c. 1841,
and was presumably served by the 'rabbi', Aaron
Jacob, who was killed in a fire in St. Ebbe's Street in
1844. (fn. 4) In that year, however, a Jewish wedding took
place in a garden in Queen Street. (fn. 5) In 1845 the
congregation comprised four householders (Ba'ale
Batim) and 20 individuals. (fn. 6) The synagogue seems to
have moved c. 1848 to a room in Paradise Square
where 10 people attended on census day 1851. (fn. 7) That
synagogue seems to have closed c. 1853 and was not
replaced until one was opened in St. Aldate's in 1871. (fn. 8)
From 1878 to 1893 the synagogue was in Worcester
Place, (fn. 9) but the congregation was small, and by 1893 it
was said to have fallen into 'an irreverent old age' from
which it was rescued by a small group of undergraduates. A new synagogue, a converted lecture room in
Richmond Road (formerly Worcester Terrace), was
opened in 1893. (fn. 10)
The Jewish community in Oxford remained small
until the influx of German refugees in 1938. During
the Second World War numbers reached c. 3,000, and
two or three local congregations were formed. Numbers fell sharply after the war, but began to increase
again in the 1950s. (fn. 11) In 1972 the old synagogue was
demolished, and a new building and student centre on
the same site, for all denominations of Jews, was
opened in 1974. (fn. 12)
The Oxford Mosque Society was founded
in 1952 when there were c. 40 Moslems in the city. (fn. 13) A
small mosque in a basement in Walton Street was
opened in 1954, (fn. 14) but until 1968, when a converted
warehouse in Bath Street was opened as a mosque,
major ceremonies for the growing Moslem population
of the city were held in the town hall. An imam was
appointed in 1972. (fn. 15)
Abdul-Baha, son of the founder of the Baha'i faith,
lectured in Oxford in 1912 but it was not until 1948
that Oxford had resident Baha'is. The Spiritual
Assembly of the Baha'is at Oxford was incorporated
as an unlimited company in 1962, and met in private
houses in 1972. (fn. 16)
||This section was written in 1974. For the medieval Jewry
see above, Medieval Oxf. (Econ. Hist.).
||C. Roth, 'Jews in Oxf. after 1290', Oxoniensia, xv.
63-9; Wood's Life, i. 168-9.
Oxoniensia, xv. 17-2; Bodl. MS. Oxf. Dioc. d 571, ff.
||C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry, 90; Oxf. Jnl. 2 Mar.
||Bodl. G. A. Oxon. b 112 (210): newspaper cutting.
Jewish Chron. 23 July 1847; V. D. Lipman, 'Survey of
Anglo-Jewry in 1851', Trans. Jewish Hist. Soc. xvii. 171-88:
refs. supplied by Dr. D. M. Lewis.
||J. J. Moore, Historical Handbk. to Oxf. (1871), 12,
216: copy in Westgate Libr.
Oxoniensia, xv. 80 n.
Jewish Chron. 3 Feb. 1893.
||Ex inf. Dr. Lewis.
||Ibid.; Oxf. Mail, 29 Apr. 1974.
||Ex inf. Mr. Ahmad Bullock, the Imam.
Oxf. Mail, 20 Mar. 1961.
||Ibid. 10 May 1963, 24 Jan. 1966, 9 Aug. 1968, 1 Nov.
||Ibid. 4 Jan. 1963; ex inf. Mr. P. Jenkerson, secretary to
the Spiritual Assembly.