The Jewish Museum

Jewish Britain

A History in 50 Objects


The Objects

Deed box which provided residents of the Jews’ Temporary Shelter with a safe place to keep their valuables

Jews’ Temporary Shelter deed box

London Jewish Bakers’ Union banner reminding shoppers to buy bread with the union label; formed part of the movement which aimed to secure better conditions for workers

London Jewish Bakers’ Union banner

Camera used by the well-known East End wedding photographer, Boris Bennett

Boris Bennett’s camera

Poster advertising The King of Lampedusa, a Yiddish play staged at the famous Grand Palais Theatre in 1943; it enjoyed the longest run of any Yiddish play in London.

Poster for The King of Lampedusa

An issue of The Stepnian, the Stepney Jewish Lads’ Club magazine, containing club news and activities, as well as poems and letters

Magazine for the Stepney Jewish Lads’ Club

Traditional Eastern style coffee set from Aden, brought to the UK by a Jewish family forced to flee their home country following the Six Day War in 1967

Coffee set from Aden

Derby ware figures of Jewish pedlars selling their goods, dating from c.1760.

Porcelain figures of Jewish pedlars

Staffordshire pottery jug, depicting a famous fight between champion boxer Daniel Mendoza and Richard Humphreys in 1788

Mendoza jug

Banner for the Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum, later becoming Norwood, which provided residential care for Jewish orphans from the 1860s to the 1960s

Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum banner

The oldest example of an English-made Hanukah lamp, dating from 1709

Hanukah lamp

Medieval mikveh dating from the 13th century, discovered on a building site in the City of London in 2001

Medieval mikveh

Portrait of Menasseh ben Israel, who played an important role in the readmission of the Jews to England in 1656

Rembrandt portrait of Menasseh ben Israel

Silver-cased scrolls made by Frederick Kandler, George III’s silversmith, for Rabbi Samuel Chaim Falk.

Kandler Torah scrolls

18th century register recording Sabbath donations made to the Great Synagogue in London

Offertory Book from the Great Synagogue

Silver rimmonim which were used in the Hambro synagogue. It is thought that the rimmonim originate from Amsterdam and date from the late 17th century.

Silver rimmonim from the Hambro synagogue

Mizrach, which formed part of a wall decoration in the estate of Moses Montefiore.

Moses Montefiore mizrach

Blue glass finger bowl made in Bristol by Jacobs’ Glass, a company founded by Lazarus Jacobs in the late 18th century

Bristol blue glass finger bowl

Silver presentation box presented by the Glasgow Hebrew Community in 1887 to Michael Simons, the first Jewish magistrate in Scotland

Silver presentation box

Bowl used by the Meshebat Naphesh Society, which was founded in 1779 to provide bread, meat and coal to poor Jews.

Bread, meat and coal society bowl

Plate produced c. 1876, decorated with a picture of Benjamin Disraeli and primroses. Disraeli became Britain’s first Jewish Prime Minister in 1868.

Disraeli commemorative plate

Scarf sent as a birthday present from Alexander Fainberg to his fiancée whilst he was interned in Onchan Camp on the Isle of Man

Scarf woven by Alexander Fainberg

Bonnet which belonged to a Jewish woman who migrated from Poland to Wales in the late 19th century

Polish bonnet

Decorative plate presented to Israel Zangwill, a prominent writer and political activist, in 1915. The plate was produced to commemorate Zangwill’s robust treatment of a heckler who called him an “an...

Zangwill plate

Sign used to advertise the Russian Vapour Baths in Brick Lane, which were used by the large immigrant Jewish community living in London’s East End from the late 19th century.

Russian Vapour Baths sign

Yiddish typewriter which belonged to the playright Abish Meisels, who emigrated to London in 1938 and became a central figure in the New Yiddish Theatre in Adler Street

Yiddish typewriter

Collar from the Stuart M Samuel Lodge, Order of Achei Brith Friendly Society. Collars like this were worn by the president and other senior members of the society.

Friendly Society collar

Book published in 1922 to permanently record and honour the contribution made by Jews who served in the British and colonial forces during World War I

British Jewry Book of Honour

Sewing kit which belonged to Aircraftsman Myer Goldstein, who served in a balloon company in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I.

Military sewing kit belonging to Myer Goldstein

Scrap book compiled by Percy Levy, one of the thousands of Jews who fought in the British army during World War I.

Percy Levy's Book of Life

Modernist style doll’s house made by Malcolm Libling, the son of an East End furniture maker, for his daughter Thelma

Thelma's doll's house

Photograph album documenting the life of the Solomons family in Hackney during the 1930s.

Photograph album belonging to the Solomons family

Collection box made by the Jewish furniture firm S Hille in 1924

Jewish National Fund collecting box, 1924

Travelling trunk used by Ernst Kohnstamm, a German hop merchant, when he emigrated to England in 1937 as a refugee from Nazism

Travelling trunk

Apron worn by Lisbeth Sokal, who came to Britain in 1938 as a refugee from Nazism and worked as a domestic servant.

Lisbeth Sokal’s apron

Doll belonging to Edith Rothschild, which she carried when she came to Britain on the Kindertransport in 1939

Doll brought on the Kindertransport

Identity tag worn by 17-year-old Margit Freudenbergova when she made her journey from Prague to Britain in 1939 in order to flee Nazi persecution

Luggage label for Margit Freudenbergova

Card to Mr and Mrs Bond, the Dovercourt Bay Holiday Camp manager and his wife, made and signed by young Jewish refugees from Germany who stayed at the camp upon arrival in Britain

Thank you card

Carriage doors painted with the coat of arms of the family of Sir David Salomons, a major figure in the 19th century campaign to secure equal rights for Jews in public life

Carriage doors belonging to David Salomons

Truck made in the early 1940s by Leon Greenman for his son Barney. Soon after, Leon and his family were deported to Auschwitz.

Toy truck belonging to Barney Greenman

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.

Jews’ Free School journal

George Cross medal, the highest civilian award for bravery, awarded to Harry Errington during World War II

George Cross medal awarded to Harry Errington

Letter written by Alec Silver, a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, to his mother on the day of his death. He was killed on 7 March 1945 while loading wounded men on to an ambulance.

Last letter from Alec Silver

Pamphlet produced in the late 1940s by the 43 group, a political grouping of Jewish servicemen, to combat antisemitism on British streets following World War II

Danger, Fascists at Work

An issue of Primrose Leaves magazine produced by the Primrose Jewish Youth Club, founded in 1946 by young survivors of the Holocaust who settled in Britain after the war

Primrose Leaves magazine

Singer sewing machine, dating from c.1912, used by an East End family

Singer treadle sewing machine

Tools used by Matthew Shaw when he was a furrier in the 1920s and 1930s – furriery was a popular trade for many Jewish immigrants who settled in the UK from eastern Europe from the late 1880s

Furrier's hand tools

Circumcision set, dating from the late 18th century, probably used by a mohel in Exeter and the surrounding area

Circumcision set from Exeter

Tally sticks dating from the 13th century, used to indicate payment of taxes

Medieval tally sticks

Photograph of Dora Shuster collecting money for the London Jewish Hospital

Dora Shuster collecting for the London Jewish Hospital

Lokshen-making machine brought to England from Russia by a Jewish woman who emigrated at the end of the 19th century

Lokshen-making machine