The Life of the Synagogue

Funeral, London

Funeral of the Rev. Dr. Adler
Funeral of the Rev. Dr. Adler
Wood engraving
The Illustrated London News
February 1, 1890

Though certain aspects of the funeral of such an esteemed religious leader as Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler (1803–1890), such as his unadorned coffin, were relatively modest, this full-page spread stresses the solemnity of the occasion. Reflecting the great loss felt by the British Jewish community, the text laments the passing of an “eminent minister,” then highlights his positions and a sampling of his published work. Readers learn that a “procession of carriages…was conveyed through London to Willesden,” stopping at the synagogue on Great Portland Street. Such a public formal cortege, along with the article’s prominent placement in the Illustrated London News, demonstrates the breadth of public mourning. Adler had led the Jews of the British Empire for nearly half a century, and representatives of many of the nation’s synagogues were in attendance. The funeral service itself was held at the cemetery of the United Synagogue in Willesden. Though such services for prominent members of the Jewish community sometimes were held at the synagogue, as seen in the case of Eduard Lasker (also featured in this section) most took place either in the home or at a cemetery chapel, as depicted here.

A lifelong advocate for Jewish education in England, Adler helped establish several crucial organizations. He played a role in founding the Jews’ College in 1855 and the United Synagogue in 1866. He also assisted Jewish communities outside of England, collaborating on efforts for the emancipation of Jews in Romania and the relief of Jews in Palestine. Nathan Marcus Adler served as Chief Rabbi from 1845 until his death in 1890, and was well known and honored for his many philanthropic efforts to support the welfare of Jews.