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President's Letter April 2022

Dear members,

This is a time of year which uplifts the spirits: spring! We are fortunate to be living in a country that flaunts its spring, with flowering bulbs, shrubs and trees. In our gardens, in parks, in fields, a tremendous sense of renewal. And even as we celebrate this affirming change, we are also drawn to consider the events – soon histories – which are unfolding in Europe. So many questions arise: the terms created to describe the horrors of the mid-twentieth century – genocide, crimes against humanity – are being used again to describe the aggression in Ukraine. We are all called to reflection on the legacies one generation leaves to those who follow.

Passover is of course the most historic of festivals, and those celebrate became in turn history teachers or pupils. To prepare us for Passover I have invited Professor Eva Frojmovic of the University of Leeds to speak to us, and here are the details:

7 April 2022, 8pm: Men and women at the Medieval Sephardi Seder Table

This should be a feast to the eyes too, as Professor Frojmovic will be sharing some wonderful images from historic Haggadah books.

As we continue to implement the recommendations, we gathered through our survey of JHSE members’ views, you may be interested to know that we are in touch with the Historical Association for consultation with history teachers about enrichment of the curriculum with Jewish history content. We will also pursue the matter with Jewish schools.

Several more Lectures are coming up:

26 May 2022, 8pm: Dr William Pimlott, Britain’s Yiddish Press and the new Jewish politics c1900

23 June 2022, 8pm: Mrs Caroline Gurney (University of Bristol) will speak about her project, supported by a JHSE award, on Mapping Bristol's Jewish Community, 1724-1881

I am also delighted to share the news of a blue plaque unveiled in Leeds to mark the life and contributions of Professor Selig Brodetsky, of which Malcolm Sender has kindly informed me.

Such recognition is so important, a way of giving thanks and showing appreciation for people who give their time and energy to endeavours that enrich our lives. I also attach a short report on the ceremony.

These are testing times in so many ways: the pressure on the standards of living of so many, the anxieties induced by war, the continued virulence of Covid strains. All we can do is be kind to each other, look out for each other, give and share, and keep ourselves well-informed about the issues of our day.

And since history affects our present lives, keep up your interest in history. The JHSE’s Trustees will continue to offer interesting events, and support historical research. And we always enjoy hearing your suggestions.

I end with warmest wishes for the spring festivals and share with you an image of what I shall be doing next week:

Warmest best wishes, and chag sameach

Miri Rubin, President of The Jewish Historical Society of England

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