Jewish Worship

Jewish Worship

The Jewish Life at Clifton

Clifton College’s status as a Jewish boarding school and its relationship with the Jewish community goes back to the founding Headmaster, John Percival, and the establishment of a boarding house for Jewish pupils that opened in 1878.

Polack’s House remained a ‘Jewish home in an English public school’ until the closure of the House in 2005. The presence of a strong and vibrant minority community within the School has been a great strength, and this has been recognised by pupils, parents, staff, governors and inspectors alike.

The Polack Trust has taken great measures to ensure that this precious relationship continues to flourish in the 21st Century, in the form of the Polack Centre, for the mutual benefit of both the Clifton and Jewish communities, and in a much-changed educational landscape.

The Philosophy

Jewish Cliftonians are members of one of the eleven houses at Clifton, whether they are Day pupils or Boarders, girls or boys. Jewish pupils are encouraged to celebrate and nurture their Jewish identity, for their benefit and the benefit of the wider school community. Clifton is a school that believes a diverse community is a healthy and dynamic community, and where ‘the dignity of difference’ is an integral part of the overall ethos.

The Polack Centre is located in what has been known as “The Old SCR”. This occupies an ideal, central position on the campus. Mr Greenbury is responsible for the Jewish community at Clifton, and will endeavour to meet their needs and support their careers at the College, whichever house they are in.

The venue has been refurbished to serve several functions, being designed for prayer, study and social gatherings. It also has the benefit of a small kitchen in an adjacent corridor.

We offer many opportunities for Jewish pupils to explore and develop their identities, including:

  • A synagogue in the Polack Centre
  • Friday night suppers
  • Jewish Studies and Hebrew teaching
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation
  • Kosher food
  • Links with the Jewish students at Bristol University
  • Links with both the Orthodox and Liberal communities in Bristol
  • Links with all the major Jewish youth groups in the UK
  • The celebration of Jewish festivals during term time


The weekly routine looks like this:

  • Tuesday–Friday: Morning Prayers at 8.30 am.
  • Friday Evening: Evening Prayers at 7.15 pm, followed by Supper.
  • Saturday Morning: Synagogue at Park Row/Bannerman Road.