23 Apr 2014
London, 2014, Early Jewish History and Migration
I hired private Jewish guide extraordinaire, Stephen Burstin, to walk us around the East Side and educate us on early England Jewish expulsion and immigration. Additionally he regaled us with many hidden gems and countless anecdotes about London’s old Jewish “heroes and villains”
The name of Jewry Street derives from the Jewish community who resettled just inside the city gate. They were expelled in 1290 and not allowed to return for 400 years.
In 2001, a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) was discovered nearby that would have predated the expulsion.
The Bevis Marls Synagogue is the UK’s oldest synagogue and the only one in Europe that has held regular services for over 300 years.
The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor (unfortunately that is not an oxymoron) served a very important role for Jewish immigrants. Over 2 million Jews fled extremely hard times in Russia between 1881 and 1914.
Many thought they were going to the US but were tricked into landing in London. About 120,000 stayed; almost all in this area.
Jack the Ripper did his business in this part of town. Jack the Ripper tours are quite popular in London and start near here. Many local businesses play off of his sensationalism.
What a nice treat when we ran into our cruising buddies, Barbara and Ted. We decided to pub together for a fun British evening. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the beautiful park between our hotel and the River Thames.