the former

Biggleswade Jewish Community

(including Shefford)





Press Reports relating to the Jewish Community in
Biggleswade and Shefford, Bedfordshire
1936 to 2003

Compiled by Harold Pollins and kindly contributed to JCR-UK.
[Information within square brackets is from the compiler]


Jewish Chronicle, 2 October 1936 page 12
‘Fascists were escorted by police from Biggleswade, Beds., recently, when a crowd of over 1,000 people demonstrated against them’.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 22 September 1939 page 2
‘Our Guests’ Activities’ ‘Jewish Services in Biggleswade. Celebrating the New Year’

There are 200 Jewish children among the evacuees including 100 from the Stamford Hill Preparatory School, a Jewish school. Owing to the difficulty in securing accommodation these 100 have not yet resumed lessons. Services for them are held every day in a meadow on London Road.

New Year services were held in the Memorial Hall. One of the teachers explained the Festival to the newspaper [printed in full].

Jewish Chronicle, 29 September 1939 page 18 Young Israel
Letter from Betty Woolfstein at her new address in Shefford.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 29 September 1939 page 8
‘A Jewish Festival’
Explanation of Tabernacles by Miss Z. Monat [in full]

Biggleswade Chronicle, 29 September 1939 page 8
‘Treatment of the Jews in Germany’
Based on accounts given by evacuees to Shefford, Austrian, German and Polish Jews.

Jewish Chronicle, 27 October 1939 page 18
Jewish Secondary Schools(sic), Amhurst Park, has been evacuated to Shefford, Beds. A kosher canteen has been instituted for lunches, and provides a full lunch daily and possible to have meat several times a week and always Sabbaths and Festivals. On the High Festivals services attended by 300 including 85 living in neighbouring villages, Jewish pupils at an LCC school, Jewish mothers and members of HM Forces. Services delivered by Dr Levene and Dayan Grunfeld. Facilities now: Mr Ashby bought a home for the school, a hall in Clifton was given, and Mr King put the Cinema Hall at the disposal of the school. There are Hebrew classes for all Jewish children whether from the Secondary School or not.

Jewish Chronicle, 17 November 1939 page 8
Generous gift by a non-Jew. Premises of the Old Infants’ School, Clifton Road, Biggleswade, given to pupils of the Jewish Secondary School by octogenarian Baptist Samuel Ashby. A service of consecration held with choir led by Mr Moser.

Jewish Chronicle, 29 December 1939, page 14
Letter to the Biggleswade Chronicle.
‘From close contact and observation of those little Jewish evacuees now so largely absorbed in this district, we, as superior Christians, have been shown up as hollow pretenders of our faith. Thrown into strange company, away from parents and every religious institution, they have continued to observe down to the smallest detail the injunctions of their faith. Their behaviour is so superior that one might think a Rabbi was constantly with them. How different is our supposed Christian behaviour, and how ashamed we ought to be before these children!’

Biggleswade Chronicle, 12 January 1940 page 4
Annual New Year Party for Clifton children. Held in the Church Hall. Reinforced by evacuated teachers and evacuated children. Tea was served to all the children except for the Orthodox Jews who had tea in a separate canteen.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 12 January 1940 page 4
Reference to the Jewish Secondary School. Mention of Dr Bloom, Dr Jacobsen, Dr Mandelbaum.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 12 January 1940 page 5
‘Jewish School Concert’ The New Hall or Cinema Hall as it is now called was filled when the children of the Jewish Secondary School gave a concert. Dr J. Grunfeld, headmistress, thanked the people of Shefford for the way they had taken the children into their homes. Dr Levene spoke of the ‘outpouring of the spirit of kindness to the Jews’.

Jewish Chronicle, 16 February 1940 page 20
Dr A. Levene recently lectured to the Biggleswade Sisterhood on ‘The Foundations of Human Society’, A series of lectures on educational topics for evacuees and local residents has been arranged by Dr Levene.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 29 March 1940 page 12
Dr A. Levene addressed the Hitchin Brotherhood on ‘The Ideals of Brotherhood’.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 24 May 1940 page 5
Brotherhood Service on Sunday. Address given by Dr A. Levene.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 31 May 1940 page 3
National Day of Prayer.
In the Church of England School little Jewish evacuees, several parents from London and a Jewish member of the Forces, offered their own contribution. Material was prepared by two women teachers, Mrs Weiner and Miss Monat, and were sung in Hebrew and English, conducted by Mr Moser of Shefford.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 14 June 1940 page 8
Dr A. Levene, headmaster of the Jewish Secondary School evacuated to Shefford, has given this newspaper an account of the second of the three Pilgrimage Festivals, ie Pentecost.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 4 October 1940 page 2
Many Jews forced to leave their homes in London are living in Biggleswade where they will celebrate the Jewish New Year.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 11 October 1940 page 2
Jewish New Year. Observed by Jewish community evacuated to Shefford. Owing to the influx of so many Jews from the bombed areas of London meetings were held in the Methodist Schoolroom as there was insufficient space at the White House, the present Jewish headquarters.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 18 October 1940 page 8
Day of Atonement will be on Saturday. Gives description of it. Observed as a fast day. All Jews except very young expected to fast.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 22 November 1940 page 3
Toys stolen from Biggleswade shop, by two 10-year old boys and one 11-year old girl. First boy and mother were residing with a Biggleswade family. Father a factory manager living in London. Evacuated 9 weeks ago. Boy had a clean record and is learning Hebrew. Second boy also evacuated. Parents live in another house in same road. Evacuated because house no longer exists. Boy attends synagogue sometimes. He was bound over for 2 years. Mother bound over in sum of £5 and to pay 7s 6d. Girl had been evacuated in September 1939 and had been moved to several places. Girl’s father was in London. She attended synagogue. Girl placed on probation for 2 years. Mother bound over in sum of £10 and 15s court fees. ‘We rarely have a girl of your age and intelligence before us', the Chairman said.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 17 January 1941 page 6
‘Lecture to the Jews’
Dr. A. Levene, headmaster of the Jewish Secondary School evacuated to Shefford, was in the chair at a lecture given to staff and students on Sunday afternoon in Providence Hall. The lecturer was Mr A. Clark, President of the Shefford Men’s Brotherhood, the subject being, ‘God and Man, and God and Nature’. At the close Dr Levene proposed a vote of thanks, seconded by Dr J. Grunfeld, headmistress.

Jewish Chronicle, 14 March 1941 page 24 Young Israel
Norman Oster, Biggleswade.

Jewish Chronicle, 21 March 1941 page 18
Purim Party on Sunday at the Church of England school, Biggleswade, where the pupils of the Hebrew Classes presented two plays. Humantashen were provided through the generosity of a few members of the community. Classes are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and are conducted by Mrs H. E. Weiner and Miss Z. Monat under the auspices of the Joint Emergency Committee. It was announced that a canteen for Passover was being organised by the teachers with the support of the Passover Committee for Evacuees. Adults who wish to participate will be allowed to do so at a fixed rate.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 18 April 1941 page 11
‘The Festival of Freedom. Interesting Jewish Celebrations. Ceremony at Stratton Lodge Described’
Arrangements were made for Stratton Lodge, Biggleswade, to be used for the Passover celebrations. Made possible by the Ministry of Health. In charge of the children were Mrs H. E. Weiner and Miss Z. Monat who during the daytime entertained them. Much of the time was spent with games and learning Hebrew dance. Then detailed description of a Seder table and Seder service

Jewish Chronicle, 25 April 1941 page 13
Jewish children in Biggleswade were able through the generosity of the Passover Canteen Committee, to enjoy a happy and kasher Passover, A large country house was provided by the Ministry of Health and here the Jewish evacuees enjoyed 4 meals a day and participated in a Seder service. The canteen was supervised by Mrs H. E. Weiner and Miss Z. Monat. Habonim activities were organised and the week concluded with a farewell concert.

Jewish Chronicle, 2 May 1941 page 1
Gunner Harry(sic) Berkovitch RA killed through enemy action. His father lives at 40 Hitchin Street, Biggleswade. [Commonwealth War Graves Commission has him as ‘Sidney’.]

Biggleswade Chronicle, 9 May 1941 page 1
Jewish Rabbi dies at Arlesley.
Rabbi Chaim Pinter, aged 62, a Rabbi of Bukowskja, Poland, left his country 2 years ago. Rabbi of the Jane Synagogue, London. Funeral was at the Djijower Synagogue, Dunk Street. Interred at Enfield Cemetery, N18.

Jewish Chronicle, 27 June 1941 page 19
On Sunday a prize-giving was held by the Biggleswade Hebrew and religion classes. Thanks were accorded to the Vicar for his generous co-operation who had granted the use of the school and for the kindness of foster parents. Jewish plays, songs and poems were given.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 18 July 1941 page 14
Jewish teachers in Bedfordshire met in conference at the Bedford Jewish Youth Centre. Dr Grunfeld (Shefford) said the canteen at Shefford had functioned since the outbreak of war and had made a great contribution to Jewish education. Dr A. Levene (Shefford) said a large number of parents were indifferent whether children ate kasher or not. Therefore kasher homes or houses must be the policy. Miss Hetty Weiner (Biggleswade) advocated regular visits to foster homes. Miss Z. Monat (Biggleswade) said the Habonim Gedud was a fine way of rallying Jewish children. Later a local Probation Officer said there was a proportionately small number of delinquents among the Jewish children.

Jewish Chronicle, 15 August 1941 page 16 Young Israel
References to Ronald and Shirley Domb, Biggleswade.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 29 August 1941 page 4
Collection for National Air Raid Distress Fund. Collections for prizes for competition, include a dress given by the Biggleswade Hebrew Community.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 29 August 1941 page 6
Barbara Fagelstone, daughter of Mr and Mrs Fagelstone of Ivy Lodge, Shefford, has been awarded a free place at Dalston Secondary School (LCC). She attends the Jewish Secondary School. The Dalston School is evacuated to Downham in Norfolk. Efforts are being made to enable her to attend a secondary school in Bedfordshire so that she can remain under the care of her parents.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 5 September 1941 page 7
Four scholars at the Jewish Secondary School who entered for an examination in Hebrew and Jewish History have passed, two with distinction, which carry a money prize. Hannah Feust has received a free place at the Dalston Secondary School, as well as Barbara Fagelstone, mentioned in the last issue.

Jewish Chronicle, 12 September 1941 page 3
Death. On 4 September Betsy, wife of the late Louis Cantor of Biggleswade.
[Death. Bessie E. Cantor September 1941 aged 75 Biggleswade 3b 704

Biggleswade Chronicle, 3 October 1941 page 6
‘Celebrating Yom Kippur. Jewish Day of Atonement’.
Description of High Holydays including Sounding of the Shofar: Tekiah, Shebarim, Teruah.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 10 October 1941 page 8
‘Feast of Tabernacles’ Four booths have been erected in different parts of the town (Shefford).

Biggleswade Chronicle, 17 October 1941 page 4
Hall wanted in Biggleswade by the Hebrew congregation for religious services, Saturday, Sunday and weekday evenings. Write George Zissman, 6 Broadmead, Biggleswade.
[Repeated 24 October 1941 page 18; and 31 October 1941 page 6]

Jewish Chronicle, 5 December 1941 page 16
Gedud Chaska held a Habonim Neshef at the Church of England school, Biggleswade. Miss Zelda Monat, the Hebrew teacher, was thanked for providing the treat in celebration of her engagement to Harry Greenberg.
[Marriage. Zelda Monat March 1942 Willesden 3a 1197//Harry Greenberg]

Jewish Chronicle, 23 January 1942 page 21
Re evacuated children. Habonim and the Joint Emergency Committee have established Gedudim children (10-14) in the Home Counties at Amersham, Bedford, Biggleswade, Chorley Wood, High Wycombe, New Bradwell, Northampton, Nottingham and Welwyn Garden City.

Jewish Chronicle, 20 February 1942 page 16 Young Israel
Received a contribution from Biggleswade Gedud for the Wireless Fund.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 6 March 1942 page 5
The White House in North Bridge Street was the centre of the Jewish Feast of Purim. Scholars of the Jewish Secondary School, teachers and friends entered into the spirit of the feast.

Jewish Chronicle, 6 March 1942 page 11
Engagement. Stanley, only son of Mr and Mrs M. Berg of 104 Drove Road, Biggleswade, to Mamie, only daughter of Mr and Mrs B. Katz of Biggleswade, Both familes from Clapton E5.
[Marriage. Stanley Berg September 1943 Hackney 1b 697//Mamie Katz]

Biggleswade Chronicle, 31 July 1942 page 4
Ten pupils of the Jewish Secondary School entered the London Matriculation examination. Eight passed.

Jewish Chronicle, 4 September 1942 page 10
Rev H. Landy appointed minister of the Biggleswade Hebrew Congregation and teacher at the Hebrew Classes. Youngest son of Mr and Mrs S. Landy of Llanelli. Recently granted the Chief Rabbi’s ministerial certificate. Previously at the West End Talmud Torah and Finchley District Synagogue.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 6 October 1942 page 5
Joshua Levene and Kurt Barda, attending the Jewish Secondary School, were successful in the recent Matriculation examination, out of three entries.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 18 December 1942 page 6
The Jewish community evacuated to Shefford observed Sunday as a special day of fasting and prayer in response to the appeal of the Chief Rabbi on behalf of the persecuted Jews of Poland.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 22 January 1943 page 7
Death of Dr J. Jacobson(sic), a master at the Jewish Secondary School evacuated to Shefford. He was a German PhD, teacher of music and other subjects. Was interned in a concentration camp. Eight months ago he had a cerebral haemorrhage. Went to emergency hospital on 8 January where he died, aged 47. Wife and four children. Buried at Enfield by Rabbi Dr Schonfield(sic), Principal of the Jewish Secondary School.
[Death. Joseph Jacobsen March 1943 aged 45 Biggleswade 3b 477]

Biggleswade Chronicle, 16 April 1943 page 8
Letter expressing horror at Nazi attempt to eliminate the Jews of Europe. Appeals to government to relax regulations on entry of refugees into the UK.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 7 May 1943 page 3
‘Jews’ Passover’
A number of the Jewish community came to Shefford for the Passover Festival, and a number of Jewish children left Shefford to spend it with their relatives. Services were held in Ashby Hall in Clifton Road, and at the White House in North Bridge Street.

Jewish Chronicle, 6 August 1943 page 10
A gathering recently under the auspices of the Children’s Committee was attended by 45 adults and children. Sports and a tea were organised.

Jewish Chronicle,8 October 1943 page 12
Meeting of the Children’s Welfare and Hebrew Education Committee. Chairman, Michael Blank, who spoke of the progress the movement had made. Other speakers were Mr O. N. Newman, Hon Sec, Mr S. Goldstein, Treasurer, Rev H. Landy, and Mrs O. Newman.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 15 October 1943 page 7
Matriculation successes. Seven entered from Jewish Secondary School for London Matriculation, Five were successful: Susi Fertig, Richard Kaufmann, Heinz Jackson, Ruth Hochdorf, Herman Snasohn.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 24 December 1943 page 4
Annual distribution in connection with the Biggleswade Children’s Welfare and Hebrew Educational Committee was held in the Central Café. Dr A. Levene BA PhD, headmaster of the Shefford Jewish Secondary School, gave an address. Mr Michael Blank, Chairman, made an appeal for the ‘Chronicle’ Comforts for the Troops Fund which realised £6.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 31 December 1943 page 8
Jewish Festival of Chanukah or The Festival of Lights.
The Jewish community evacuated to Shefford has been holding festival gatherings of all kinds during the eight days – parties, concerts, film entertainments, and the Jewish Secondary School gave a performance of Twelfth Night.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 3 March 1944 page 14
Two pupils of the Jewish Secondary – Jochewet Heidenstein and Margot Wertheim – were successful in the recent London Matriculation examination.

Jewish Chronicle, 3 March 1944 page 14
Rev Harry Landy has been appointed Minister, Secretary, and Headmaster to Becontree Associate Synagogue. Has been Minister to the Biggleswade Congregation for the last 18 months.

Jewish Chronicle, 31 March 1944 page 14
Dr Judith Grunfeld, Deputy Principal and headmistress of the Jewish Secondary School, said the number of pupils was steady for last three years, at 100, of whom 85 were refugee children. 90% of those entered for the London Matriculation had passed.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 9 June 1944 page 6
Meeting of Biggleswade and Langford Group of Council School Managers. Application by the Biggleswade Children’s and Hebrew Welfare Education Committee for the use of a schoolroom for the purpose of religious instruction on Sunday mornings. Granted.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 28 July 1944 page 8
Jewish Secondary School held their third sports day in the Hardwicke Meadow. Mr M. Eisemann was clerk of the course assisted by Miss Marcus, physical training instructor.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 23 February 1945 page 6
Funeral of Vicar of Shefford. Large number of mourners including Dr A. Levene and staff and students of the Jewish Secondary School.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 23 March 1945 page 3
Art Exhibition,in connection with the Biggleswade Evening Institution, including competitive classes for junior and senior students who have been working under Mr H. E, Weiner, ‘a local artist of some repute’.

Jewish Chronicle, 23 March 1945 page 12
Daughter, Jeanne Diane, born 14 March at the St Andrew’s Nursing Home, Biggleswade, to Mamie, nee Katz, wife of Stanley Berg, 104 Drove Road, Biggleswade, formerly of Clapton E5.
[Birth. Jeanne D. Berg March 1945 Biggleswade 3b 642. Mother Katz]

Biggleswade Chronicle, 13 April 1945 page 5
Baptists Pastor’s Diamond Jubilee, of Shefford Baptist Chapel. Among those speaking in his praise was Dr A. Levene of the Jewish community.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 3 August 1945 page 10
Staff and students of the Jewish Secondary School, who have been accommodated in Shefford since September 1939, entertained their hosts and friends to a farewell concert at the Senior Schools.
Dr A. Levene, headmaster, spoke of much cooperation from the locals. Regarding the London Matriculation, during the period there were 50 successes, despite the fact that on coming to Shefford many could not speak much English.
Dr Grunfeld, headmistress, particularly thanked the women of Shefford. 600 children had lived there and would not forget the outings, the tea parties, the presents and the friendships.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 10 August 1945 page 8
‘Thanks to Shefford’
The Jewish Secondary School has left Shefford after a six-year stay. Three functions marked their exodus.
On Tuesday their hosts were entertained to a concert and supper.
On Wednesday afternoon last prize-day in Ashby Hall.
On Thursday morning the Shefford streets were full of children carrying cases, making their way to a rendez-vous in North Bridge Street where buses waited. A girl prefect, a refugee from Germany, unable to speak a sentence in English in 1939, now expressed herself well. Had found kindness everywhere. Miss Rosenthal, welfare worker, was a pupil at Shefford until Christmas 1939, then undertook nurse training in Oxford. The school’s billeting officer, Mrs Bell, in Shefford since the evacuation said that at first some locals were averse to opening homes to Jews, but some were later converted.

Biggleswade Chronicle, 12 July 1946 page 2
Bedfordshire Standing Joint Committee consider Surplus Equipment.
This was Civil Defence equipment bought in the war for the police. One man says that it was better for it to be sold by auction. Otherwise, ‘If they were sold by tender they would probably go to Hebrew firms and might find their way to the black market’

Jewish Chronicle, 25 February 1955 page 19
Rev H. D. Ritvo, Luton minister, spoke recently to the Biggleswade Young Wives’ Group on ‘Judaism’ at the Memorial Hall. The Hall was used during the war as a synagogue by the children evacuated to Biggleswade by the Jewish Secondary School Movement.

Jewish Chronicle,19 October 1979 page 28
Birth. To Eric and Patrick Cohen nee Danaher of Nottingham a son, Daniel Mark, born 14 October, at the City Hospital, Derby. First grandchild to Mrs Greta Cohen, Birmingham, and Ken and Joyce Danaher, Biggleswade.
[Birth. Daniel Mark Cohen December 1979 Derby 6 0856. Mother Danaher]

Jewish Chronicle, 28 January 1983 page 19
Letter from Bryan D. G. Constant, Sheriff’s Officer for Bedfordshire, trying to make contact with wartime evacuee in Biggleswade, Charles Goldstein from Stamford Hill.

Jewish Chronicle, 4 February 1983 page 27
In Memoriam Minnie Bernett died 7 February 1968. Signed Jack Bernett, Biggleswade.
[repeated several years]
[Death. Minnie Bernett March 1968 aged 68 Biggleswade 4a 128]

Jewish Chronicle, 5 September 1986 page 23
Letter from woman saying that she was friendly with Ruth Levy who with sister Ruby and brothers Morris and Sidney stayed with her family in Biggleswade during the war. Would like to hear from Pearl.

Jewish Chronicle, 5 June 1998 page 28
Letter from Michael Jimack, Coltsfoot, Biggleswade.

Jewish Chronicle, 17 October 2003 page 25
Sarah Lewis and Adam Phiilips were married at Ickwellbury Farm, Biggleswade. [Caption to photo.]
[Marriage. Sarah R. Lewis August 2003 Barnet 219n431//Adam L. Phillips]

Formatted by David Shulman

Jewish Community in Biggleswade and Shefford home page

List of JCR-UK Articles and Press Extracts by Harold Pollins

Page created: 23 January 2017
Latest revision or update: 18 January 2021



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