Barnet Ruderman’s bookstore and publishing house at 71 Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane, was a key address for a generation of East End radicals.
Ruderman was a penniless teenager when he arrived in Whitechapel from Lithuania in the 1880s. Years of yeshiva studies had left him ill-equipped to survive in late Victorian London, but he earned a living from tailoring and then moved on to publishing, Yiddish journalism and book-selling. Along the way he also published a series of Yiddish postcards attacking the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II. This one shows scenes of imprisonment, flogging, summary execution and the serpent of tyranny wrapped around the lifeless body of a woman. Ruderman’s memoirs of the Jewish socialist movement in England were serialised in the Yiddish press of the 1920s but have yet to be translated.
Like any migrant community, Russian Jewish immigrants to Britain kept a close eye on events in their homeland. This was true throughout the late 19th century, and even more so in the 1900s and 1910s as anti-Tsarist protest turned into revolution.
David Mazower, the well-known cultural historian and broadcaster, has drawn together a series of fascinating objects and images illustrating this that he discusses in the March 2017 issue of our magazine The Cable. For your copy send a cheque for £4.70 (magazine cost £3.50 plus £1.20 postage) payable to JEECS to JEECS, PO Box 57317, London, E1 3WG.