The Establishment of Golders Green Synagogue by Lynne Fertleman
EARLY LONDON JEWRY
The main immigration to Britain of Jews escaping social and religious persecution from Eastern Europe occurred during the years 1881-1914 (1) and they settled in the provinces as well as in London. The approximate Jewish population in London in 1914 is estimated at 180,000.(2) Prior to 1880 the estimated number of Jews living in England was 60,000; many of whom had arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries mainly from Spain and Portugal. They were known as Sephardim and their customs differed from the Askenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, who had a different Hebrew pronunciation, form of prayers and also spoke Yiddish, which is Judaeo-German.(3)
The new immigrants generally settled in London’s East End but in the early 1900s as the factories moved towards the Lea Valley, some began to move outwards towards Walthamstow and Stepney. The more affluent Jews generally moved to the North West or West of London towards Maida Vale and Brondesbury.(4) It was suggested that they were following the general trends as Rev Gouldstein said of his congregation at the North London Synagogue in 1897: “It is all a question of fashion, and whereas Bayswater used to be the fashion, the Jews now go to Hampstead, Kilburn, Cricklewood, etc. but they always go where gentile fashion leads”.(5)
From 1914 those East End Jews who afford to, moved out to North West London. Many of these young Jews had been educated at “local London County Council schools”. They had mixed with non-Jews, they were anglicised and they were becoming assimilated into English working class life.(6) For some of the Jews who moved to the suburbs, the East End was something to forget.(7) The new Eastern European immigrant Jews were seen as an embarrassment by their more affluent and anglicised counterparts.
References (which also appear if you hold the cursor over the number of the note in the text):
(1) Alderman, Geoffrey. Modern British Jewry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) pp.110.
(2) Alderman pp.119.
(3) Lipman, V.D. A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858 (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1990) pp.4
(4) Ibid. pp.55.
(5) Glasman, Judy ‘Assimilation by Design: London Synagogues in the Nineteenth Century ‘ in Kushner, Tony (ed.) The Jewish Heritage in British History – Englishness & Jewishness (London: Frank Cass & Co Ltd, 1992) pp.176.
(6) Smith, Elaine “Jews and Politics in the East End of London, 1918-39” in Cesarani, David (ed.) The Making of Anglo Jewry (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1990) pp.141-2.
(7) As reported in The Manchester Gazette 28 Sept 1979, an article by Lucille Levi titled “Nostalgia or Pain” Kushner, Tony (ed.) The Jewish Heritage in British History – Englishness & Jewishness pp.81.
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