Farewell to JEECS

 

Many of you are probably puzzled that you have not heard from us for some time and that the latest issue of our magazine The Cable is the first in nearly a year. I am afraid that the committee has decided that, because of illnesses and other reasons, it has decided to wind up JEECS at the end of 2018.The latest issue of The Cable will be the last although emails will continue to be sent until the end of 2018. In short the committee feels that it just cannot continue running JEECS.

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Book Review: Old Hessel Street brought back to life

A gloriously evocative, and often very funny, collection of stories centred on an iconic East End street

 

Hessel Street. What an image the name conjures up, with its shops, its market, its cast of characters – the heart of the old Jewish East End. My mother recounted how, as a girl, one of her regular tasks was to take one of the chickens my grandfather kept in the backyard to a shochet in Hessel Street for slaughter and return home with the corpse.

Truly a vanished world.

It is a world a collection of short stories by Eric Levene conjures gloriously back to life. Feinstein’s Theory of Relatives and other Hessel Street stories, with its wonderfully apt title, introduces us to an array of memorable characters, many of whom recur throughout the book.

We are in the late 1940s and 1950s. Take it From Here and Ray’s a Laugh are on the radio. And in Hessel Street, Yoseler the Philosopher is dispensing advice, inspired by his muses Moshe die Mensch von Munchen and Shlomo Schon von Bonn.

Doris Feldman and Hannah Woolf, doyennes of the yachnahs, are spreading gossip while enjoining their eager listeners not to repeat a word of it. Abe and Sid are ensconced in the Joe Lyons in Whitechapel Road, never quite sure whether that is nearer their Hessel Street homes than the Lyons at Aldgate. Joe Gorminsky is watching the world from his butchers shop and leading the street’s traders. Mendel the newsagent contemplates leaving his wife, only people would talk.  But they talked anyway, so he might as well have moved out.

And all around, people are oigavulting and oivayzmeering. Yiddish words and phrases are in common use, but not so much as to put off any readers who are Yiddish-impaired.                                                                                    Eric Levene

Eric Levene’s introduction alone is a laugh out loud essay. His stories range from the humorous – and they are very humorous – to the slightly sinister, to the whimsical, as in the trial of a shochet by three chickens intent on avenging their slaughtered sisters, to the tribulations of everyday life,  as in the contortions a set of parents goes through in compiling a list of wedding guests.    

Familiar references abound – Florry Greenberg’s cookery book (one of my mother’s cookery bibles), the Brady Club, Mazin’s booksellers, Kossoff’s bakers, and many more.

I ended up feeling I knew these people of old. I was almost tempted to believe that two Jewish cooks had reached the summit of Everest ahead of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. And I had no doubt at all about the well-known slogan “Borscht is best”. There are fights, there are dreams, there are not so happy marriages, there is all human life, intermixed with the author’s wry observations on what his characters are up to or what they are saying.

This is a highly entertaining and evocative collection. I loved it. Eric Levene lived in Hessel Street in the 1940s and 50s. His grandfather – zayda – was a butcher and poulterer there. His memories of life at that time clearly remain strong. If I had one bone to pick it would be that I spell beigel beigel, not baigel. But, hey, I’m not going to start a broigus about that. As long as neither of us goes for bagel.

Feinstein’s Theory of Relatives and other Hessel Street stories. By Eric Levene.ISBN 9781973230892. Paperback £8.99. Available from Amazon, including for Kindle. Click here for details.

A Great Yiddish Parade to make Whitechapel sing

It will soon be time for one of the East End’s most spectacular events, the Great Yiddish parade, and you are all invited.

The date is Sunday November 19, when East End streets will echo with the sound of songs once sung there and forgotten for more than a century, as a marching band with singers and klezmer musicians bring Yiddish Victorian songs of protest back to the London of today.

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Gensheroff premises found

You published this photo of my father, Sholem Shrensky, and (it is assumed) of L. Gensheroff in issue 24, 2014 of The Cable in the hope that someone might know the location of the Gensheroff premises. Retired Detective Inspector Terry Abrahams astutely found, through the 1911 census, that the family of Isaac Gunscheroff (a close enough re-spelling of the name) resided in London at 9, Union Street, Mile End Old Town, and he kindly informed me of this fact.

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Tales from a physician's life

JEECS member and former East Ender Cyril Sherer shares tales from his fascinating life in a book published this summer that looks back over his long medical career in four vastly different countries.

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A Hessel Street memory

I just happened to come across your article on Hessel Street. I am an 85-years old lady now but still remember when my Dad worked plucking the chickens down there, and also playing in Petticoat Lane as a young child when my Mother worked in a café there – many memories of my East End childhood before we moved “up market” to Upper Clapton.

Best Wishes

Joyce Foster

A film about your family

JEECS members and other readers of this website are clearly interested in family history, which is why we thought you might be interested in a service offered by a company that specialises in making films about your family history.

Read more ...

Congratulations on The Cable

Dear David:

I wanted to write to you in my three capacities, the immediate past Chair of the Jewish
Historical Society of England, the President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and the Chair of the Working Party on Jewish Monuments (on which Clive Bettington sits) to offer my most sincere thanks and offer congratulations to you on a really excellent edition of The Cable.

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Fire Services book brings back memories

 

Our review of Martin Sugarman's fascinating book about the role played by Jewish members of the Fire Services during the Second World War stirred some memories for long-standing JEECS member Yoel Sheridan, one of our members in Israel.  

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BBC features East End photographs

The superb photography of JEECS member Louis Berk, whose studies of the Brady Street and Alderney Road cemeteries in the East End through the seasons featured in the last issue of our magazine The Cable, has been recognised by the BBC.

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Can you identify this photograph?

Whilst my family are not Jewish the attached picture was found in my husband’s family photograph archives. We have really no idea who the gentleman are but do believe they are dressed for a wedding.

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East End photographs that reveal a surprise oasis

East End Jewish Cemeteries: An Oasis in Whitechapel, a superb collection of photographs of the Brady Street and Alderney Road cemeteries in the East End by JEECS member Louis Berk, is being published on June 15.

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Latest news

  • Farewell to JEECS

      Many of you are probably puzzled that you have not heard from us for some time and that the latest issue of our magazine The Cable is the first in nearly a year. I am afraid that the committee has decided that, because of illnesses and other reasons, it has decided to wind up JEECS at the end of Read More
  • Book Review: Old Hessel Street brought back to life

    A gloriously evocative, and often very funny, collection of stories centred on an iconic East End street   Hessel Street. What an image the name conjures up, with its shops, its market, its cast of characters – the heart of the old Jewish East End. My mother recounted how, as a girl, one of her regular tasks was to take one Read More
  • A Great Yiddish Parade to make Whitechapel sing

    It will soon be time for one of the East End’s most spectacular events, the Great Yiddish parade, and you are all invited. The date is Sunday November 19, when East End streets will echo with the sound of songs once sung there and forgotten for more than a century, as a marching band with singers and klezmer musicians bring Read More
  • Gensheroff premises found

    You published this photo of my father, Sholem Shrensky, and (it is assumed) of L. Gensheroff in issue 24, 2014 of The Cable in the hope that someone might know the location of the Gensheroff premises. Retired Detective Inspector Terry Abrahams astutely found, through the 1911 census, that the family of Isaac Gunscheroff (a close enough re-spelling of the name) Read More
  • Tales from a physician's life

    JEECS member and former East Ender Cyril Sherer shares tales from his fascinating life in a book published this summer that looks back over his long medical career in four vastly different countries. Read More
  • A Hessel Street memory

    I just happened to come across your article on Hessel Street. I am an 85-years old lady now but still remember when my Dad worked plucking the chickens down there, and also playing in Petticoat Lane as a young child when my Mother worked in a café there – many memories of my East End childhood before we moved “up market” to Upper Clapton. Best Wishes Read More
  • A film about your family

    JEECS members and other readers of this website are clearly interested in family history, which is why we thought you might be interested in a service offered by a company that specialises in making films about your family history. Read More
  • Congratulations on The Cable

    Dear David: I wanted to write to you in my three capacities, the immediate past Chair of the JewishHistorical Society of England, the President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and the Chair of the Working Party on Jewish Monuments (on which Clive Bettington sits) to offer my most sincere thanks and offer congratulations to you on a Read More
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For the old Jeecs site, visit www.jeecs.org.uk/archive