Ayr Jewish community

Jews appear in Ayrshire as early as the 1850s.  By the 1901 census, there were over 75 Jews in the county and around that time, Harris Freeman and others established a Jewish community with a synagogue.  In 1904, the Jewish Chronicle reported on the formation of a new Ayr Zionist Society.  The first minister, Abraham Dove, arrived in 1905 and there was a small Hebrew School.  By 1911, there were around 75 Jews in Ayr.

The heyday of the Ayr community was probably in the 1930s and 1940s, when there were a number of kosher boarding houses and the seaside resorts were popular with Glasgow Jewish holidaymakers.  The synagogue was at one time in Sandgate and later in the Invercloy Hotel.  Wartime evacuees swelled the numbers of the community.

There were also wartime refugees in Ayrshire, including Susanne Schaefer and Lore Zimmerman, who came on the Kindertransport and were fostered by the Hamiltons of Rozelle House.  In addition there was a refugee hostel, Birkenward in Skelmorlie.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Ayr community declined and the Invercloy was sold in 1975.