Jewish history

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Jewish history

The virtue of oral history is that it reflects the vibrancy of contemporary social life in a way that no other form of history can. Our aim is to try to capture that in Waltham Forest.

Its multi-cultural nature is one of its outstanding characteristics and for that reason we have embarked on a project to try to collect an oral history of the Jewish experience in the borough.

We know that a lively Jewish community does exist, but we also know that it is not as large here as in other areas – and for that reason could be overlooked.

The Jewish East End and its demise has been well documented, as has the migration to the Gants Hill area and north London, especially Golders Green. But the specifics of the Jewish experience in Waltham Forest have not been documented and there is no oral history in the Vestry House Museum.

We want to know:

  • where did the Jewish people in this area come from
  • what were the circumstances around moving here
  • why did they move to this area in particular
  • what were the first impressions
  • what were the earliest memories of Jewish life in the area
  • how religious were the Jews then, and now
  • what are the changes that have taken place since moving
  • how different are the generations in their approach to being Jewish
  • how different is their relationship to the local synagogue now and in the past
  • what is it like being Jewish in this area.

There are no Jewish food shops – apart from the kosher section of Sainsbury’s, in comparison to Gants Hill and Golders Green.

Have there been problems, issues, highlights or anything remarkable about being Jewish in this area?

We are only just starting to record these memories and welcome people coming forward with their own histories.

Contact us with your experiences.