The next time you are in London, make it a point to visit the Jewish Museum .
I was there over the Rosh Hashana holidays. The museum is located near two Northern Line tube stations in Camden Town. It is new, open, sunny and not overwhelming.
I started out on the top floor which is showing a temporary exhibit of illuminated Hebrew manuscripts some of which were on loan from the Vatican -- which I know begs the questions: where did they get them from? And several others which came from various British universities.
Most are of Jewish interest though some are also of Christian interest.
The exhibit which ends on October 10 is modest in size -- as is the museum, but worthwhile.
Downstairs is a permanent installation on British Jewish History. Just the right amount of explanation...audio visual ... and artifacts.
Jews first came to England in 1066. I learned that the first blood libel took place in Norwich in 1144.
And that Jews were forced to wear distinctive badges.
In 1290 the Jews of England were expelled. That explains why Shakespeare who died in 1616 could not have come across many Jews.
The Jews were allowed to return to England in 1656.
By 1855 there was a Jewish Lord Sheriff.
In 1858 Rothschild was allowed to be sworn in on a Hebrew bible as a member of Parliament.
In the 1880s England experienced a great immigration. This coincided with the pogroms on Russia. The East End became a major Jewish neighborhood -- like New York's Lower East Side. So Jews were big in Whitechapel.
I learned further that Jewish women did piece work: making cigarettes and were paid 2 shillings and sixpence for 1,000. The tools they used were on display.
At their economic situation improved, the Jews moved to better neighborhoods like Stoke Newington.
Between the wars there was upward mobility and that is how it transpired that many Jews became cabbies in London. Yiddish was out and English was in.
In 1938-39 the community took in some 10,000 children from Europe ...rescued from Hitler's clutches.
On the main floor there is a general exhibit on Judaism which I thought was very well done. Plenty of good explanations for beginners. There is also a small Holocaust section anchored to a British Jewish citizens who found himself in Europe and survived the Holocaust.
Israel does not feature prominently -- but it does feature -- in the museum; this is not a museum about Israel. It is mostly aimed at British people including non-Jews.
There is a gift shop and a cafeteria which sells sandwiches (kosher + meat) and soups as well as hot drinks. A bit overpriced for my budget but pleasant.
Monday, September 27, 2010
London's Jewish Museum
WELCOME TO MY BLOG - I am a Jerusalem-based journalist and political scientist and a senior editor at The Jerusalem Report focusing on the Jewish World. I’m a former editorial page editor at The Jerusalem Post and was founding managing editor of Jewish Ideas Daily. Over the years I’ve written for Newsmax, Israel My Glory and a range of other outlets. I was also editorial director for www.balfour100.com and recently completed a book on the Balfour Declaration (now being edited at the publisher’s). Before making aliya in 1997, I worked in NYC government and as an adjunct assistant professor of political science. My memoir about growing up on the Lower East Side (well, it is more than about that) The Pater: My Father, My Judaism, My Childlessness is available via online booksellers, Amazon kindle, and (select) in brick and mortar bookshops. I enjoy the chance to brief individuals and groups visiting Israel on the conflict and Jewish civilizational issues. Write to: email@example.com
- ► 2015 (26)
- ► 2014 (28)
- ► 2011 (58)
- No Kudos to Castro
- REBRANDING POLAND
- London's Jewish Museum
- The British Elections: Tory v. Labor - April 2010
- Israel & India
- Meeting Abigail Green
- Violent Diversions
- Waiting for a Political Messiah
- Israel's Mossad
- Gaza's isolation
- Turkey & Israel
- Israeli Nukes
- Japan & Israel
- Ubiquitous dissent
- Ambivalent Jordan
- Civil Liberties
- Lose Nukes
- On the Heritage Trail
- Trouble in Emmanuel
- POLLING JEWS
- The New Shimon Peres
- Gilad Shalit
- An Umbrella for British Jewry
- East Jerusalem
- Getting Abbas to the Table
- Rank Rivalries In the IDF
- Meeting Elhanan Yakira
- Marranos in Reverse
- Allon's Legacy
- Easter 2010
- World Jewish Congress
- The Impresario of Zionism
- High Season
- The Obama - Israel "Crisis"
- Ramadan 2010
- "Israeli Apartheid Week"
- India & Israel
- A Zionist Citadel
- Arab Moderates: Help, or Hindrance?
- On Eagles' Wings
- World Zionist Congress
- Meeting Efraim Karsh
- UNIFIL: Peacekeepers or Enablers?
- Christianity in the Middle East
- American Jewish Congress: The End?
- Understanding AIPAC
- Russia & Israel
- Meeting Irving Finkel
- Zionism Derangement Syndrome
- The Arab Peace Initiative
- Meeting Anthony Julius
- Mainline Protestants and Israel
- Britain & Israel
- Meeting Israel Prize Winner Hanoch Bartov
- ▼ September (55)
- ► 2009 (196)
- ► 2008 (74)
- ► 2007 (20)
- ► 2006 (36)