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Welcome to our 130th Anniversary Year

As some of you, the many who attended, already know, our anniversary year was marked on Sunday evening by a gathering online where we heard four short fascinating contributions about the founders of JHSE and their times. We recorded the event (missing the first five minutes) and have uploaded it here for you to enjoy.

I for one came away renewed in my appreciation of how unique and important the JHSE is. Let us make it even better, and stronger. This means growing, recruiting new members. Why don't we each pledge to encourage at least one new member to join the JHSE. During the anniversary year there is a 50% discount on new membership (enter the coupon code JHSE130 at checkout). Membership for students is modest, so why not gift it to a young relative? We must be creative to keep the JHSE thriving. Also, send in any ideas and suggestions for new activities, or improvements on what we already do.

We have a whole array of activities lined up, all listed on the website. One of these events is upon us: do join at Bevis Marks Synagogue on Thursday 8 June 2023 at 6pm, for the Richard Barnett Lecture, an occasion to remember a cultural and community leader, and the publications into the life of Portuguese Jews, that he encouraged and inspired. There will be some short talks, a mini lecture, a chant, and refreshments to follow. Above all, this is an occasion to meet in person at the oldest synagogue in England. The Trustees would be delighted to meet - or re-meet - you. For catering purposes it would be good if you could sign up in advance.

This seems to be a season of anniversaries. Member of the JHSE Advisory Board, David Jacobs, attended last Sunday the 150th anniversary of the Willesden Cemetery (where one of our founders, Lucien Wold is buried). David writes about the event:

Willesden Cemetery 1873-2023

An historic celebration took place at the United Synagogue’s Willesden Cemetery on Sunday June 4th when over 100 people gathered to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the cemetery in 1873.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE, shared insights into the Cemetery's past and its significance to the local and Jewish community today.

Cllr. Orleen Hylton shared her pride in having such a historic site in the Borough of which she is the Mayor. Nigel Franklin spoke about his relative, Rosalind Franklin, the pioneer scientist who was celebrated after her death for her role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. We heard too from the new CEO of the United Synagogue Jo Grose who expressed her pride in the staff and the tremendous number of volunteer men and women involved in this National Lottery Heritage Funded project who were there all adorned in their House of Life T shirts. Miriam Marson, Head of Heritage at the United Synagogue, acknowledged the enormous amount of work that has been done in the cemetery to restore a number of the graves, to create routes through the cemetery and colourful new garden plantings of wild flowers which echo landscape designs from the past.

Guests were invited to join a short guided walk which included seeing the grave of Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz of Chumash fame, the till shaped gravestone of Sir Jack Edward Cohen the founder of Tesco supermarkets, and Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild, the recipient of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

The programme concluded with a talk by Professor David Latchman entitled ‘Not just a matzevah (gravestone): using artefacts from his own extensive collection to illuminate the lives of the ‘Willesden’ Chief Rabbis. They are Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler the first to be elected to the position, his son Herman Adler, Joseph Hertz and Israel Brodie.

Lastly I should add that the founder of the Jewish Historical Society of England and its first President Lucien Wolf is buried in Willesden Cemetery and the Society paid for his gravestone.

Photo credit: Yakir Zur

For more information about this the ‘Rolls Royce’ of Jewish cemeteries go to the Willesden Jewish Cemetery website.

As for me, am excited as I write, to be speaking at the splendid Essex Branch this evening....

Best wishes to you all. Miri


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