The Jewish Museum

Jewish Britain

A History in 50 Objects


Jews’ Free School journal

This is an issue of Ours, a fortnightly journal which was produced by the Jews’ Free School. This handwritten copy dates from 1886 and includes humorous and satirical essays, sketches, songs, and a chess column.

The school was founded in 1732 and expanded throughout the 19th century as the Jewish population of East London grew. By 1900, it was known as the largest school in the world. It was closely linked with the Rothschild family, who provided both economic support and leadership.

The school played a key role in anglicising the young immigrants of the East End.
It encouraged its pupils to identify with their new country, its traditions and history. Hebrew and religious studies were part of the curriculum, but speaking Yiddish was strongly discouraged. Children were not to forget that they were Jews – but they were now English Jews.




The photos of the 'raw mterial' and the'finished product' tell us so much about JFS and its origins. Interesting to reflect on how the school originally was to anglicise the Jewish Immigrants whereas now it (like all Jewish schools) is trying to make very English children more aware of their Judaism!

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