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.
Having founded JEECS in 2003 this is of course a great disappointment to me. As a non-Jew I thought it was a tragedy that the Jewish community was not doing more to honour and preserve the very rich Jewish heritage of the East End. JEECS has had notable successes, including installing the plaque at Queen Mary, University of London, to Daniel Mendoza, initiating Holocaust Memorial events in the East End, organising superb seminars on the battle of Cable Street , Zionism in the East End and the exhibition at the Museum of the Docklands on the Siege of Sidney Street, among many other things.
I think the thing that has given me the greatest pleasure is the publication of The Cable magazine (the latest issue is the 30th).These 30 issues contain articles of the very highest standard and we have introduced our readers to persons they probably never heard of – Isaac Rosenberg, Israel Zangwill, Selig Brodetsky and so many others. The range of articles covers all aspects of the history of the Jewish East End. In this regard I would like to honour the Walker Brothers without whom The Cable could not have been produced. Philip Walker, who died in 2014, was indispensable to JEECS and to The Cable, and his passing was a great tragedy. His brother David has been the superb editor of The Cable throughout its existence and his meticulous standards have made it probably the best magazine of any Anglo-Jewish society.
I would like to thank those generous members who gave JEECS donations and supported our events over the years. I would also like to thank those writers who supplied such excellent articles to be published in The Cable.
It is a great sadness to me that JEECS has not achieved everything it set out to do. The remaining three East End synagogues are still very much at risk. The blue plaques we were hoping to have erected have not materialised. There are still a few projects I am hoping to complete before we close in December 2018 (see below).
Finally I want to pay a special tribute to our Honorary Life President, poet and playwright Bernard Kops, and to our first Honorary President, the incomparable Professor Bill Fishman. The calibre of these two men alone is proof of what great people emerged from the Jewish East End. It was my great hope to produce a staging of Bernard’s best play, The Hamlet of Stepney Green, and this is one of my projects for 2018. It has never been produced in the East End.
Isaac Rosenberg statue
I have always believed that Isaac Rosenberg was the one person from the Jewish East End who has not been properly honoured. He is now seen as one of the greatest British poets of the Great War, second only to Wilfred Owen. When I launched the campaign to raise nearly £100,000 for the erection of a statue in his memory I was being over optimistic. I have raised £10,000 with a further promise of £5,000 and have abandoned the statue scheme. But I am determined to ensure Rosenberg is properly honoured in 2018. I have received a quote from another sculptor, Hannah Northam, who has quoted about £23,000 for a portrait bust in bronze on a plinth. It will be sited in Birkbeck College in Torrington Square, where Rosenberg studied. It is now scheduled to be unveiled on November 25 rather than April 1, the centenary of his disappearance on the Western Front.
I want to ensure, though, that something of quality is organised on April 1 to mark the centenary. It is possible that the event will be held at the Westminster synagogue, but details will be supplied in due course.
Montefiore drinking fountain
As I have said previously, the Mocatta drinking fountain in Aldgate has been restored by the City of London without any contribution from the Mocatta family. However the Montefiore drinking fountain in Stepney is still in a dire condition and liable to be removed altogether. The Heritage of London Trust has indicated that it is prepared to give some money toward restoration but not all of the funds necessary. I have estimated that it will cost about £10,000 to restore the whole fountain. I have approached 95 members of the Montefiore family and either have had no response or have had a plea of poverty. I am determined that the fountain shall be saved and still hope that the Montefiore family will pay for most of it. If anyone knows a member of the family please ask them to contact me.
Finally I would like to thank all those who have been members over the years. Your support has been much appreciated. If any member wishes a subscription refund please contact me and I shall consider it.
I also wish to state that even when JEECS no longer exists I shall still be taking steps to save the heritage of the Jewish East End, and my various guided tours will continue.