President's Letter November 2021


I open this letter with the good news that last month the building application which threatened to construct a 48-storey building in the vicinity of the Bevis Marks Synagogue was rejected by the City planning authorities. This result was achieved not only by the excellent advocates who made the case to the Committee, but also by a public campaign that enlisted citizens, societies, public historians and many more. I am proud that our Society played its part. Over the last two years we have not been able to schedule the collaborative events that the Bevis Marks and JHSE have habitually organised. I hope we can return to them before too long. This week we will begin our series of consultations with members who answered last summer’s survey and agreed to be contacted for this purpose. That survey’s purpose was to find out what you the members wanted the JHSE to stand for, and how you wish the Society to go forward through partnerships and activities in the public domain. We will report our finding and share future plans with you. If you did not take part in the survey, you can still write to me (president@jhse.org) or to our Chair, Caroline Maurice (chair@jhse.org) as we are keen to hear from you. This month I have organised two events and I hope you will be able to join them:

  • On 4 November 2021 at 7pm curator Alex Cropper will introduce us to the new Manchester Jewish Museum – this will be a virtual tour to entice you to a real visit: https://jhse.org/event/virtual-tour-of-the-manchester-jewish-museum/

  • On 25 November 2021 at 8pm, Dr Trish Kessler will present her research on Mapping Jewish footprints in provincial Ireland,1880-1922: https://jhse.org/event/mapping-jewish-footprints-in-provincial-ireland-1880-1922/

I hope many of you will sign up and join these sessions online. Hanukkah starts at the end of November this year, and I shall be writing to you just before. You may wish to visit an exhibit at the Museum of the Home in East London, where seasonal historic rooms have been created, including one of Hanukkah in a Jewish home in eighteenth century London: https://www.museumofthehome.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions-and-installations/hanukkah/ Our Society depends on all its members, and we are particularly indebted to those members who are able to devote their time and energy to help run the Society and its branches. Hence, I write to share with you the news of the recent death of Godfrey Gould. Together with a small group of other interested people, Godfrey brought JHSE to Sussex some fifteen years ago, and chaired the branch for several years. He contributed to the work of Marcus Roberts in setting up a JTrails for the City. He was instrumental in the placing of several Blue Plaques to notable Jewish residents in Brighton & Hove and helped collect the anthology of the Brighton & Hove Jewish Community 1766-2016, to celebrate 250 years since the first record of a Jewish resident in Brighton. Godfrey represented Sussex on the JHSE Council and became a regular attender of the JHSE lectures on Zoom since the lockdown. He offered his views on Jewish history and the Society with trenchant commitment. Although I had only ever met him online and exchanged through emails, his persona was lively and engaging. The JHSE was fortunate to have him as member and leader. I wish you all health and happiness as autumn turns to winter. With warmest best wishes, Miri Rubin,President of the Jewish Historical Society