WJT

JEWISH London

X
London and Jews: A History Intertwined London town is famous for its stunning architecture, diverse food culture, and a highly praised theater scene. In addition to all of these attractive features London hosts the largest Jewish community in the country. Since the 11th century Jews have called this metropolis home. Despite a few ups and downs the community has managed to become one of the most prosperous and respected in the world.  From Acceptance, Rejection, and Resettlement: Jewish History in England While the exact date of arrival of Jews to England is debated historians can all agree that the first written mention of Jews was in 1066. After the Saxon conquest of England Jews from Rouen made their way to London attracted by the economic opportunities. With all this good fortune it is no surprise that London also had a flourishing Jewish intellectual life. This was noticed by Jewish Torah scholars from across Europe and attracted visitors such as the famous Abraham Ibn Ezra, who authored the Iggeret HaShabbat.  The Jewish quarter in East London Antisemitism was still rampant in the country and throughout the Medieval period the Jewish quarter was set ablaze numerous times. Jews were also forbidden from owning land. This pushed them into professions such as tradesmen. Most other Jews worked as moneylenders, a profession forbidden to Christians. This made Jews very valuable to the upper classes.  In 1290 the community was expelled from the country. The return of Jews to England finally came in 1632 when persecuted Jews fleeing from Spain and Portugal settled in the country. Around 1690 Ashkenazim from Amsterdam and Germany followed their pioneering Sephardi cousins and established their own congregation.  The West London Synagogue, the oldest reform synagogue in Great Britain The Salvation of London Jewry Then in the 19th century Jews earned their emancipation. They were allowed to move outside the quarter and establish legitimate retail businesses, something they had been barred from for centuries. In addition to this the first Jewish sheriff was elected and in 1858 Jews became represented in English Parliament. The Jewish population also grew substantially during this period with the arrival of Russian Jewry. This raised the overall community numbers from 47,000 to well over 100,000 individuals. From this point the discrimination against the community was less apparent. Then came the historic event that would change the whole of European Jewry forever. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Not long after Britain declared war on Germany. This action saved countless British Jews from mass murder, the remainder of European Jewry was not so fortunate. Today British Jewry continues to increase and make a name for itself on the world stage. Some of the most famous Jewish names in the world hail from London. These include the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, one of the most respected Torah scholars and Jewish community leaders in history. Other notable names include Vidal Sassoon, the hair tycoon and celebrity stylist. In addition, these British Jews excel in the world of film and music. Names such as Amy Winehouse and Sacha Baron Cohen are sure to ring a few bells.     Rabbi Jonathan Sacks | Credit: cooperniall from England, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons From One Neighborhood to the Next: London’s Jewish Quarters and Sites The first mention of a Jewish quarter in London dates to the Terrier of Saint Paul’s published in 1128. Under Milk Street archaeologists discovered a 13th century mikveh. During the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century London's Jewish Quarter was divided. Jews lived in Whitechapel, Spitalfields, and Mile End Old Town districts. Some also lived in the parish of St. George-in-the-East. Eventually the community migrated to London’s East End. There are bits and pieces of Jewish culture and history in every aspect of the city.   The Bevis Marks Synagogue stands as one of Europe’s oldest active synagogues. During the 17th century waves of Jewish Sephardi immigrants flocked to England. In 1701 the community built one of the largest and most extravagant synagogues in all Europe. Wooden pews and chandeliers give the space a very ethereal aura.  Bevis Marks Synagogue | Credit: Edwardx, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons When Hitler’s nazi party was rising to power many Jewish families saw their destruction coming and immigrated to England. Sigmund Freud moved his family from Vienna to London in 1938, just escaping the claws of the Nazis. London would be where Freud developed the study of psychoanalysis. You can visit his home in London at The Freud Museum which houses his books, art, and even the famous reclining couch.  London is one European city where Jewish intellectual life and creativity could flourish. It is no surprise then that one of the oldest and most established Jewish art galleries in the world is in London. The Ben Uri Gallery opened at the turn of the century as a premier gallery for artists of Jewish descent from around the world. In its nearly 120 year history the gallery has hosted a number of famous Jewish artists including Chagall and Epstein.  Freud Museum London | Credit: Matt Brown from London, England, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons Upwards and Onwards: The Continued Thrival of London Jews  There seems to be no end in sight for the potential of English Jewry. The community serves as a testament to the resilience of world Jewry. They have been knocked down over the years but have always managed to come back stronger than ever. Today Jewish history and culture is preserved and celebrated attracting visitors and immigrants from across the Jewish diaspora.   

Get Inspired!

Get Google's city map with all of our info, sites and treats included!

SITES TO SEE

Your site could be here
View All Sites

TOURS OF London

Your tour could be here
View All Tours

Jewish Style Restaurants

Your restaurant could be here
View All Restaurants See Kosher Restaurants

CITY GUIDES

You could be here
View All Guides

READ MORE BLOGS AND EBOOKS

World Jewish Travel Official July 28, 2022

Diamonds Are Made Under Pressure: The Story of Jewish London

London and Jews: A History Intertwined London town is famous for its stunning architecture, diverse food culture, and a highly praised theater scene. In addition to all of these attractive features London hosts the largest Jewish community in the country. Since the 11th century Jews have called this metropolis home. Despite a few ups and downs the community has managed to become one of the most prosperous and respected in the world.  From Acceptance, Rejection, and Resettlement: Jewish History in England While the exact date of arrival of Jews to England is debated historians can all agree that the first written mention of Jews was in 1066. After the Saxon conquest of England Jews from Rouen made their way to London attracted by the economic opportunities. With all this good fortune it is no surprise that London also had a flourishing Jewish intellectual life. This was noticed by Jewish Torah scholars from across Europe and attracted visitors such as the famous Abraham Ibn Ezra, who authored the Iggeret HaShabbat.  [caption id="attachment_39829" align="alignnone" width="1599"] The Jewish quarter in East London[/caption] Antisemitism was still rampant in the country and throughout the Medieval period the Jewish quarter was set ablaze numerous times. Jews were also forbidden from owning land. This pushed them into professions such as tradesmen. Most other Jews worked as moneylenders, a profession forbidden to Christians. This made Jews very valuable to the upper classes.  In 1290 the community was expelled from the country. The return of Jews to England finally came in 1632 when persecuted Jews fleeing from Spain and Portugal settled in the country. Around 1690 Ashkenazim from Amsterdam and Germany followed their pioneering Sephardi cousins and established their own congregation.  [caption id="attachment_39832" align="alignnone" width="1200"] The West London Synagogue, the oldest reform synagogue in Great Britain[/caption] The Salvation of London Jewry Then in the 19th century Jews earned their emancipation. They were allowed to move outside the quarter and establish legitimate retail businesses, something they had been barred from for centuries. In addition to this the first Jewish sheriff was elected and in 1858 Jews became represented in English Parliament. The Jewish population also grew substantially during this period with the arrival of Russian Jewry. This raised the overall community numbers from 47,000 to well over 100,000 individuals. From this point the discrimination against the community was less apparent. Then came the historic event that would change the whole of European Jewry forever. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Not long after Britain declared war on Germany. This action saved countless British Jews from mass murder, the remainder of European Jewry was not so fortunate. Today British Jewry continues to increase and make a name for itself on the world stage. Some of the most famous Jewish names in the world hail from London. These include the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, one of the most respected Torah scholars and Jewish community leaders in history. Other notable names include Vidal Sassoon, the hair tycoon and celebrity stylist. In addition, these British Jews excel in the world of film and music. Names such as Amy Winehouse and Sacha Baron Cohen are sure to ring a few bells.     [caption id="attachment_39833" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Rabbi Jonathan Sacks | Credit: cooperniall from England, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons[/caption] From One Neighborhood to the Next: London’s Jewish Quarters and Sites The first mention of a Jewish quarter in London dates to the Terrier of Saint Paul’s published in 1128. Under Milk Street archaeologists discovered a 13th century mikveh. During the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century London's Jewish Quarter was divided. Jews lived in Whitechapel, Spitalfields, and Mile End Old Town districts. Some also lived in the parish of St. George-in-the-East. Eventually the community migrated to London’s East End. There are bits and pieces of Jewish culture and history in every aspect of the city.   The Bevis Marks Synagogue stands as one of Europe’s oldest active synagogues. During the 17th century waves of Jewish Sephardi immigrants flocked to England. In 1701 the community built one of the largest and most extravagant synagogues in all Europe. Wooden pews and chandeliers give the space a very ethereal aura.  [caption id="attachment_39834" align="alignnone" width="1600"] Bevis Marks Synagogue | Credit: Edwardx, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons[/caption] When Hitler’s nazi party was rising to power many Jewish families saw their destruction coming and immigrated to England. Sigmund Freud moved his family from Vienna to London in 1938, just escaping the claws of the Nazis. London would be where Freud developed the study of psychoanalysis. You can visit his home in London at The Freud Museum which houses his books, art, and even the famous reclining couch.  London is one European city where Jewish intellectual life and creativity could flourish. It is no surprise then that one of the oldest and most established Jewish art galleries in the world is in London. The Ben Uri Gallery opened at the turn of the century as a premier gallery for artists of Jewish descent from around the world. In its nearly 120 year history the gallery has hosted a number of famous Jewish artists including Chagall and Epstein.  [caption id="attachment_39836" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Freud Museum London | Credit: Matt Brown from London, England, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons[/caption] Upwards and Onwards: The Continued Thrival of London Jews  There seems to be no end in sight for the potential of English Jewry. The community serves as a testament to the resilience of world Jewry. They have been knocked down over the years but have always managed to come back stronger than ever. Today Jewish history and culture is preserved and celebrated attracting visitors and immigrants from across the Jewish diaspora.   

Read More

HOTELS IN London

Your hotel could be here
View All Hotels

#JEWISHLONDON

Pickle trailer 🥯 pickletheplay is part of our four-week Come What May festival of performance - opening NEXT WEEK 🎉

Here’s the shtick: Ari is caught between two worlds. Still living at home in North-West London, she has her Jewish life, dominated by overbearing parents, traditions, and expectations. Then there’s her day-to-day life - the job, the pub, the foreskins...

Pickle is a darkly comic uproarious simcha of a one-woman show about being Jewish and secular in the UK today. Expect smoked salmon, guilt and a large dose of self-deprecation.

Playing 2-7 May.

🎟️ Save when you book for multiple shows in the festival! 🎟️

1 show: £15.00 per ticket
2 shows: £13.50 per ticket (10% off)
3 shows: £12.75 per ticket (15% off)
4 shows: £12 per ticket (20% off)
5+ shows: £11.25 per ticket (25% off)

parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/pickle

#comewhatmay #theatrefestival #theatrefestivals #vaultfestival #springfestival #festival #parktheatre #parktheatrelondon #jewishtheatre #jewishlondon #jewishlife #londonlife #finsburypark #finsburyparklondon #theatrelife #theatrenews #theatrekid #ilovetheatre #theatrelover #theatretickets #theatreticketslondon #offwestend #offwestendtheatre #uktheatre #whatsonlondon
...

27 1

The Brady Street Jewish cemetery at Whitechapel opened in 1761 on what was previously a brickfield. Burials ended in 1857 and it is now largely forgotten, hidden from the outside world. #london #londonbylondoners #londonhistory #historyoflondon #bradystreetcemetery #jewishcemetery #jewishhistory #jewishlondon #jewish #whitechapel #linkinbio ...

57 2

I don’t often do takeaways as you know. But when you’re slightly missing a bit of #jewishlondon salt beef bagel and the lovely man at originpizza comes up with what is basically a Reuben on pizza. This is total food love. Oy that a pizza ever tasted so gut.
.
.
#pizza #pastrami #saltbeef #dillpickles #mustard #fusionfood #foodporn
...

25 3

In my most recent post about Jewish life in the East End of London in the 1930s, I discussed the Battle of Cable Street—when members of the British Union of Fascists organized a march through London’s Jewish neighborhoods, but were greatly outnumbered by protestors, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who forced the fascists to turn around, despite police attempting to clear the way for the march. By marching through the center of Jewish life in London, the fascists sought to intimidate the Jews of London.

On Sunday, a group of white men carrying giant American flags and signs that read “kneel for the cross” marched outside my state representative’s house, where he was inside with his three young children. The men identified themselves as “Christian veterans.” My state rep is a veteran, but he is also one of two Jewish members of the Ohio House of Representatives. When asked, they had no specific policies they wanted to discuss. By identifying themselves as Christians, then targeting a Jewish state rep at his home and attempting to take photos of his family through the windows, they made their intentions clear: this was an act of antisemitism intended to intimidate.

The parallels between the two events are striking. And terrifying.

I discussed Sunday’s events in more detail on my story yesterday. Today, I want to delve back into Ruthie’s story.

Before the planned fascist march through London’s Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues warned their congregants to stay home. But they didn’t. And that’s due to the organizing of trade unions and Jewish organizations, including the Worker’s Circle (Arbiter ring, in Yiddish). Ruthie’s parents are both members of the London Worker’s Circle, which was established in 1909 as a mutual aid organization for London's Jewish community. Along with over 2700 other members, her parents pay a weekly fee that then provides sick benefits and aid to unemployed workers, as well as funding cultural programming, including lectures and classes. The Worker’s Circle’s activities are centered in a bustling building in the East End of London called Circle House.
...

277 8

The Jewish holiday of Tu b’Shevat begins tonight at sundown. The holiday is known as the new year for the trees, and we celebrate by planting trees and eating fruit and nuts. It is a time of new growth and renewal; a time to consider what we can do to care for the Earth for the generations that come after us.

When I started my photo series about Ruthie living in the East End of London in the 1930s, I always knew that I would end the series by talking about the antisemitism Jews faced in 1930s London and how antisemitism continues today. But I wasn’t expecting to make this post today. All antisemitic acts are abhorrent, but the events that occurred yesterday in Texas were heartwrenching.

Although the Battle of Cable Street, which I discussed in my last post with Ruthie, happened 86 years ago in the UK, it’s impossible to overlook similarities with the political climate today in the United States. In the US, Jews are the target of 58% of religious hate crimes, despite making up only 2% of the country’s population. Although the story that I shared for Ruthie is a fictional story, I can imagine the fear that she felt seeing fascists marching down the streets of her beloved neighborhood because I know the fear that accompanies being Jewish. I know the anxiety about whether or not my friends and family will be safe at synagogue, even in 2022, when you would think that there should be nothing to fear.

Despite all of that fear, we will still celebrate Tu b’Shevat, just like Ruthie would have in 1937. Ruthie is paging through her family’s recipes for date bars and date and nut loaf to make for the holiday while watching the snow fall softly outside. She’s thinking about the generations who came before her, and the generations who will come after her, perhaps baking the same recipes for Tu b’Shevat, deciphering the scribble of her grandparents’ pencil on the ragged scrap piece of paper. Because, our recipes and our shared cultural heritage will persist with us.

(Note: These recipes are actually from the 1950s, a couple of decades after Ruthie’s era, and they belonged to my grandfather, who was a baker.)
...

462 12

It’s January 1937 and Ruthie and her parents just moved to Stamford Hill, London, just a few miles away from Whitechapel, where Ruthie used to live. (Read about Ruthie’s life in Whitechapel in my previous post.) But Stamford Hill is much fancier than Whitechapel—her parents and their friends call Stamford Hill “di hoykhe fenster” in Yiddish, which means “high windows.” Many of Ruthie’s Jewish friends and neighbors from Whitechapel have also moved to Stamford Hill, but Ruthie isn’t sure if this new part of London will ever feel like home the way that Whitechapel did. Ruthie’s parents grew up in Whitechapel and had never planned to leave. A few months earlier, that all changed.

On October 4, 1936, the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, planned to march through the East End of London. Although Ruthie had heard stories of the terrible violent riots called pogroms that targeted Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia, Ruthie never thought violence directed toward her community could happen in England.

Ruthie didn’t understand why the fascists seemed to hate her and her family so much, and why they were marching through her neighborhood, which was overwhelmingly Jewish. Ruthie’s mama explained that some people wanted to blame their poverty on the Jews. But Ruthie’s family and all of the other Jewish families in Whitechapel lived in poverty—how could they be to blame?

Ahead of the march, the rabbi of Ruthie’s shul (Yiddish for synagogue) warned all the congregants to stay home. But the Jews of the East End didn’t stay home. As about 3000 fascists marched through the streets of the East End with the protection of 7000 policemen, over 100,000 protestors, including Jews, trade unionists, and Irish railway workers, barricaded the streets. Police attempted to clear a route for the fascists, violently injuring protestors in the process, but the protestors were determined not to let the fascists pass. Ultimately, the fascists were forced to turn around and discontinue their march.

Despite the protestors’ victory, Ruthie’s parents decided it was time to leave Whitechapel.
...

427 8

Looking forward to more delicious food, drinks and fun times with all of you 😍🤩🍔🍕🍟🍗🧇🍩🥂🍷🍹🍸
Thank you all for making my year so incredible! Wishing you all a year full of health, happiness, and everything your heart desires 😘😘
💕 romykosher
.
.
.
.
#happynewyear #happynewyear2022 #happy #new #year #foodblog #foodblogger #foodbloggers #foodie #foodies #foodiesofinstagram #london #londonfood #kosher #kosherfood #kosherfoodie #kosherfoodies #kosherlondon #insta #cappuccino #romykosher #jewish #jewishlondon
...

302 31