UK: Jews of Preston – a new book

Does the UK community of Preston ring a bell in your tree? If so, this new book may be an excellent source of information for your quest.

Lorna Kay has informed Tracing the Tribe of the publication of John Cowell’s book, “Furriers, Glaziers, Doctors and Others: A History of the Preston Jewish Community” (2009).
Kay is chairs the Manchester Regional Group of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, while Cowell is a member of the Manchester group’s committee.

Available in paperback or CD, the more than 200 page book offers detailed information, biographies, tables and more.

She writes that that she sees this as an amazing feat of research documenting a now nearly defunct but once thriving community that had not been documented. Cowell’ research included archival and library research and interviews with former residents.

He mined the Jewish Chronicle online archives, local and national newspapers, local directories, birth, death and marriage records, and some surviving archives of the Preston Hebrew Congregation, all after the 1930s.

Many early Jewish residents and regular visitors were dentists. Occupations in the 19th century included opticians, peddlers and hawkers,clothier, and jewellers. From 1881, more Jewish residents arrived (drapers, tailors, bicycle dealer, glazier). From the late 1920s, doctors arrived making this an unusual small community according to the author.

After the 1930s and WWII, European refugees and others from cities in the UK came to Preston. Eventually however, the population declined, the synagogue closed and people moved elsewhere.

The book includes a bibliography and appendices (where people came from, where they went, their occupations and population in the 1911 census). There are short biographies of community members – some surnames are Goodman, Goldberg, Lewis, Schwalb.

Price: The paperback is £9.99 + £1 postage and handling; The CD is £5.25 + £1 postage and handling. For more information or to order the book or CD, contact John Cowell.

Honoring Inquisition victims, returnees

Not so long ago Tracing the Tribe wrote that, along with Holocaust Remembrance Day, there should be a day on which we honor the Inquisition’s victims. Many people agreed with this concept.

We have learned that Rabbi Stephen Leon (El Paso, Texas) will introduce a resolution honoring the Inquisition’s victims on Tisha B’Av at December’s biennial convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

It will also honor those forcibly converted to Catholicism in Iberia and elsewhere so long ago who have now returned to open Judaism.

This is music to Tracing the Tribe’s ears, if a blog can have such physical attributes. We also recommend that readers who are members of Conservative and other congregations should talk to their rabbis about the importance of this resolution and to the positive message it will send to millions of Converso/Bnai Anousim descendants who feel that mainstream Judaism ignores them.

Karen Primack also wrote the news in the Summer 2009 Kulanu Newsletter (Summer 2009).

This is the resolution’s text:

Resolution on the observance of Tisha B’av to be a day to commemorate the Spanish Inquistion and the return of the Anousim to Judaism

Whereas the holiday of Tisha B’av recalls the very day that the expulsion of the Jews from Spain took place in the year 1492; and

Whereas many Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity publicly, but continued to practice Judaism in secret; and Whereas many of the descendants of these Jews who are called B’nei Anousim have returned formally to Judaism today, and many are in the same process,

Now, therefore be it resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism calls upon all of its affiliated congregations to formally observe Tisha B’av on an annual basis as an occasion to educate its members about the history and events of the Spanish Inquisition regarding the Jewish people, and to inform its members of the return of the B’nei Anousim to Judaism today; and Be it further resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism helps to provide programs, speakers, films, and other appropriate materials for such Spanish Inquisition and B’nai Anousim commemorations on Tisha B’av.

Rabbi Leon, who is actively involved in assisting conversos/bnai anousim in many ways, is spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Zion, which will also receive an award at the convention for its annual Converso/Bnai Anousim conferences held for the past nine years, always held around Tisha B’Av.

Conferences have featured such speakers as Yaffa DaCosta, Sonya Loya, Art Benvenisti, Richard Santos, Rabbi Juan Meji, and Trudy Alexy z’’l (author, The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot), and viewed films such as “The Longing” by Gloria Bohm, and about Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn’s work with Anousim in Latin America.

According to Rabbi Leon, “Tisha B’Av is the perfect time to mourn the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and to celebrate the return of their descendants, the Bnai Anousim of today.”

Tracing the Tribe supports this move and believes that the surrounding publicity in regard to this resolution and the award will raise awareness in Conservative congregations and among Conservative Judaism’s clergy and lay leaders around the world and spur more welcoming outreach to our friends.

Thank you, Rabbi Leon.

Honoring Inquisition victims, returnees

Not so long ago Tracing the Tribe wrote that, along with Holocaust Remembrance Day, there should be a day on which we honor the Inquisition’s victims. Many people agreed with this concept.

We have learned that Rabbi Stephen Leon (El Paso, Texas) will introduce a resolution honoring the Inquisition’s victims on Tisha B’Av at December’s biennial convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

It will also honor those forcibly converted to Catholicism in Iberia and elsewhere so long ago who have now returned to open Judaism.

This is music to Tracing the Tribe’s ears, if a blog can have such physical attributes. We also recommend that readers who are members of Conservative and other congregations should talk to their rabbis about the importance of this resolution and to the positive message it will send to millions of Converso/Bnai Anousim descendants who feel that mainstream Judaism ignores them.

Karen Primack also wrote the news in the Summer 2009 Kulanu Newsletter (Summer 2009).

This is the resolution’s text:

Resolution on the observance of Tisha B’av to be a day to commemorate the Spanish Inquistion and the return of the Anousim to Judaism

Whereas the holiday of Tisha B’av recalls the very day that the expulsion of the Jews from Spain took place in the year 1492; and

Whereas many Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity publicly, but continued to practice Judaism in secret; and Whereas many of the descendants of these Jews who are called B’nei Anousim have returned formally to Judaism today, and many are in the same process,

Now, therefore be it resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism calls upon all of its affiliated congregations to formally observe Tisha B’av on an annual basis as an occasion to educate its members about the history and events of the Spanish Inquisition regarding the Jewish people, and to inform its members of the return of the B’nei Anousim to Judaism today; and Be it further resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism helps to provide programs, speakers, films, and other appropriate materials for such Spanish Inquisition and B’nai Anousim commemorations on Tisha B’av.

Rabbi Leon, who is actively involved in assisting conversos/bnai anousim in many ways, is spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Zion, which will also receive an award at the convention for its annual Converso/Bnai Anousim conferences held for the past nine years, always held around Tisha B’Av.

Conferences have featured such speakers as Yaffa DaCosta, Sonya Loya, Art Benvenisti, Richard Santos, Rabbi Juan Meji, and Trudy Alexy z’’l (author, The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot), and viewed films such as “The Longing” by Gloria Bohm, and about Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn’s work with Anousim in Latin America.

According to Rabbi Leon, “Tisha B’Av is the perfect time to mourn the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and to celebrate the return of their descendants, the Bnai Anousim of today.”

Tracing the Tribe supports this move and believes that the surrounding publicity in regard to this resolution and the award will raise awareness in Conservative congregations and among Conservative Judaism’s clergy and lay leaders around the world and spur more welcoming outreach to our friends.

Thank you, Rabbi Leon.

Philadelphia: Jewish Americans named to museum Hall of Fame

The National Museum of American Jewish History, which will open in Philadelphia in November 2010, has announced the 18 distinguished Jewish Americans to be included in the Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame.

Selected by a public vote, the individuals who will be featured are:

Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Mordecai Kaplan, Sandy Koufax, Estée Lauder, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Leeser, Golda Meir, Jonas Salk, Rose Schneiderman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Henrietta Szold and Isaac Mayer Wise.

The vote was held from July 8-August 6, 2009. On the list were 218 possible candidates in eight categories (Arts & Entertainment; Business & Philanthropy; Literature; Performance; Politics, Law & Activism; Religion & Thought; Science & Medicine; and Sports).

The Museum received more than 209,000 votes from 56 countries. Selected for Gallery inclusion was the person who received the most votes in each category, while the Museum’s historians and curators ensured that the group reflected the US’s 350 years of Jewish history and the diverse fields they represented. Additional honorees will be added in future years and visitors to the site can continue to submit names of individuals they believe should be included.

According to Museum president/CEO Michael Rosenzweig the public played a significant role in choosing the first group of honored individuals and the 18 honorees are a consensus between the public vote and the Museum’s historians and curators.

Thousands of viewers went to the website to learn about all the candidates.

The Gallery/Hall of Fame will be located on the Museum’s first floor, and it is being called a landmark museum experience which will feature major film productions, original artifacts and an interactive database.

The database includes information on the entire list of 218 individuals and is available online and to all Museum visitors.

The Museum’s academic historians are Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University; Dr. Pamela S. Nadell, Professor of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, American University; Dr. Beth S. Wenger, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Michael Berenbaum, writer, lecturer and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and Sigi Ziering Institute director at the American Jewish University: and Dr. Josh Perelman Museum Historian and programming deputy director.

For more information, see the Museum site at the link above.