Protect Bevis Marks Synagogue

A message form the Parnas Presidente

Protect Bevis Marks Synagogue

Dear Kahal,
You may have seen the article in that appeared on the  New York Times website yesterday (link below). This and many more articles and news stories will be appearing over the next few days and weeks to get our message out there to campaign to protect our Synagogue. Please be part of the conversation and share these widely on social media.
I would also like to thank some of our donors who have given generously to assist with this campaign.
Kind regards,
Stuart Morganstein

Parnas Presidente
Article can be found here:
Ottolangui UK Uncategorized

Abraham Ottolangui 1887-1935

ABRAHAM OTTOLANGUI, known as Abie, was born in 1887 in Whitechapel, London, England, died 3rd March 1935 and was buried on 4th March 1935 at the Sephardi Cemetery, Hoop Lane, Golders Green in Plot. B38. He was the 4th son of AARON OTTOLANGUI and MARY SHARP.

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This is the only known photograph of Abie

He married SOPHIA HART in 1911 and they had 5 children.

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Sophie was born in 1888 in London, daughter of Aaron Hart and Rosa nee De Leeuw Lyons, and died on 31st July 1958 in London, England and was buried at the Hoop Lane Cemetery, next to Abie.

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Abie & Sophie at Hoop Lane
Ottolangui UK Uncategorized

Allen Ottolangui

Master Power Lifter

Back in Israel in May 1999 when I was just taking my first step into researching my Ottolangui roots I cranked up my then ageing Pentium powered PC and launched the Netscape Navigator into cyberspace, of which there still wasn’t so very much in those days.

When I typed in “Ottolangui” in the search box, I got two hits, the first of which was Allen Ottolangui the Hertfordshire power lifter. In those halcyon days I didn’t yet know that all the Ottolangui in the world were related, there were no contact details for Allen anywhere on the web and I had no access to UK telephone directories (which were still in paper editions at that time) so I kind of filed the information away and followed the other leads that I discovered a little later which took me off on a wild adventure.

The first time I heard more about Allen was when he left this greeting in the guest book of one of our family websites (

Allen is descended from the “Monty Ottolanguis” being a 7th generation descendant of David Ottolenghi. Your “cousin calculator” will aid you in working out which kind of cousin he is and how many times removed.

Allen’s father, David was born in Hackney on 13 August 1920 married May (nee Godley) in 1946 and Allen was born in October 1960 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

At a young age Allen became interested in the sport and soon became well known in national and international circles

Over the years Allen has accumulated an impressive record of achievements in his field

Ottolangui UK Uncategorized

Appeal on behalf of our Family Synagogue

This is an appeal for action not for donations

A planning enquiry into a building next to Bevis Marks synagogue ends on 15 December. The plan is to build a high rise building next door. This will block out the light and may damage the historic building’s shallow foundations. If you have a connection to the building or community, please make your objection. Bevis is the longest continually functioning synagogue in the world (even during COVID the rabbi says daily prayers there), the oldest non-Christian and ethnic minority place of worship in the country, and the ‘cathedral’ synagogue of Anglo-Jewry. It is one of the last synagogues following the Portuguese rite. There are a lot of places where an anonymous office block can be built. Anyway, post-COVID there may be more remote working and a fall in demand for office space there, whereas the new Bevis visitor centre will bring ordinary people into the City. Please add your protest to the planning committe………/application…

Watch Rabbi Shalom Morris speak about the classic windows and ancient lights of the synagogue

Ottolangui UK Uncategorized

The Last Voyage of AS George Gershom Ottolangui

In the courtyard of the Bevis Marks synagogue on the wall to the left of the main doors, there is a plaque commemorating those members of the congregation who lost their lives in the Great War 1914-1918, and in the Second World War 1939-1945.

In the WW2 section appears the name Gershom Ottolangui.

We never knew who he was, because we had no-one of that name in our direct family. Now I have found out, after more than a little research that he was George, born in 1921 to Monty Ottolangui & Fanny nee Caplin, of Bow. He was not from our direct family line but was our fourth cousin.  

George was lost at sea on the Merchant Navy vessel S.S. Empire Heritage aged 23 on 8th September 1944. He is also remembered on Panel 41 of the Merchant Navy Memorial in Trinity Square on Tower Hill. He was not a crew member of the S.S. Empire Heritage but was on board as a passenger being a “Distressed British Seaman” which probably means that he had been rescued from a different ship which had sunk. His rank was Assistant Steward.

This is the Merchant Navy Memorial on Tower Hill in London, commemorating the more than 50,700 Commonwealth merchant seamen who lost their lives in the two world wars. The Tower Hill Memorial commemorates more than 35,800 casualties who have no known grave.

The Merchant Navy Memorial, Tower Hill

His father Monty was the son of George Monty Ottolangui, and grandson of Aaron Ottolangui and Reyna, nee Bensabat. Monty who died 8th October 1989 and his wife Fanny are buried in the S&P section at Hoop Lane Cemetery in Golders Green at location SPF-119-50.

Here is the story of SS Empire Heritage.

S.S. Empire Heritage

S.S. Empire Heritage was built as a steam tanker ship in 1930 by Armstrong Whitworth & Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne but actually started life under another name as Tafelberg, first used in South Africa as whale factory ship until January 1941 when it was hit by a mine and put out of service. A year later, the wreckage was refloated and the ship salvaged, repaired, re-purposed and renamed SS Empire Heritage by the British Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and returned to service in February 1943.

An unintentional casualty of war in its first life, it would be the victim of a vicious enemy attack in its second incarnation. In early September of 1944, the ship under the command of the master, Captain J.G. Jamieson O.B.E., was en-voyage from New York to Liverpool carrying a heavy cargo of war supplies including 16,000 tons of oil and a deck cargo of Sherman tanks, half-tracks and trucks. By 8th September 1944, 15 miles northwest of Malin Head (the most northerly point of Ireland) its journey would end, torpedoed by the German submarine U-482. After two direct hits the vessel went down fast to the seabed some 70 metres beneath the waves, with all the cargo and a loss of 113 lives.

An escort ship, SS Pinto, attempted to rescue the survivors but was also hit and sank in the same attack. Survivors from both ships were eventually picked up and rescued by HMS Northern Wave and taken ashore at Derry, Northern Island.

The wreck of the S.S. Empire Heritage is designated as a war grave and is the final resting place of George Gershom Ottolangui. The wreck of S.S. Empire Heritage and its cargo lay silently beneath the waves until 1995 when rediscovered by divers. The tanks and trucks are still visible scattered on the seabed next to the wreck. Photographs of the wreck and its cargo can be viewed on the website The full story and rather a nice underwater video can be found at

The German Type VII submarine (U-boat) was the most commonly deployed U-boat in the Atlantic War. A total of 703 were built, of which only one survives

The surviving Type VII U-Boat at the Laboe Naval Memorial near Kiel.

 U-482 was fitted with a Schnorchel underwater-breathing system and its crew of 34 mariners, was commanded by a German naval career officer from an aristocratic family, Kapitan-Leutenant Hartmut Graf von Matuschka, Freiherr von Toppolczan und Spaetgen, who was born 29th December 1914.

Kapitan-Leutenant Hartmut Graf von Matuschka, Freiherr von Toppolczan und Spaetgen,

His career began around April 1934 and he rose through the ranks to Kapitan-Leutentant by 1st April 1942.  He was decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd class, then the Iron Cross 1st class and the German Cross in Gold in September 1944.

At the outbreak of war Graf von Toppolczan was an adjutant at Gotenhafen Naval HQ, and in 1940 he left the staff at the Coastal Artillery detachment there to serve on the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen.

He joined U-boat arm, the Ubootwaffe, in March 1943, commissioned U-482 in December 1943.

He died with the rest of his crew when U-482 was lost at sea on 25th November 1944.

A younger brother of Kptlt. Graf von Toppolczan’s died on active service in 1943. He was an Oberst (Group Captain) in the Luftwaffe when lost in action. Another brother survived the war and reached an advanced age.

Between 16th August 1944 and 18th November 1944, U-482 had completed two missions, spending a total of 50 days at sea, during which time it made attacks on 4 Allied convoys sinking 4 merchant ships and one Royal Navy corvette, HMS Hurst Castle, for a total of 32,621 tons.

The loss of U-482 was first attributed to being sunk by British Support Group 22, then in the 1990’s the Admiralty asserted that it had hit a mine in the North Channel, but U-Boat researchers believe that U-482 had been sunk on 25th November 1944 in the North Atlantic west of the Shetland Islands, in position 60.18N, 04.52W, by depth charges from the British Royal Navy frigate HMS Ascension, after being located by a Norwegian Sunderland aircraft of 330 Squadron RAF/Group on 24 November 1944, with the loss of all hands.

This is the memorial to the S.S. Empire Heritage and her crew on Panel #41 at the Merchant Navy Memorial on Tower Hill.

Panel #41
George Ottolangui is the 10th name from the bottom