Catch up with our online events

Steven Jaffe - The History of the Belfast Jews

Yes there are Jews from Belfast. In the country of Protestant and Catholic, a Jewish community thrived for several generations. While its story has never been told, the community’s contribution to the history of Northern Ireland and to Jewish history is much bigger than you might expect. Be prepared for a few surprises!

Steven Jaffe is Belfast born and bred as a member of the city’s Jewish community. Steven has in recent years guided hundreds in a Jewish walking tour through Belfast city centre. Steven lives in North West London but pre lock down he visited Belfast about ten times a year as co chair of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel. An ex postgraduate history student of Cambridge University and partner in a large law firm, Steven is at heart a grassroots advocate for the Jewish community and Israel, and he works as a consultant to Magen David Adom UK, the Jewish Leadership Council and other community organisations.

Steven Jaffe has produced a selection of photographs for you to look at during or after his talk.

These can be found at:


This is a joint event with the Leeds Branch of the Jewish Historical Society

Dr Rachel Pistol - Jewish refugees in Britain: Internment of ‘enemy aliens’ during the Second World War

This talk will explain the policy of Second World War internment in Britain, life in the camps, and the experiences and memories of former internees. With the outbreak of war in 1939, all Germans and Austrians resident in Britain became ‘enemy aliens’. The British government created tribunals to ascertain which enemy aliens were ‘dangerous’ and which were refugees. With the fall of France and the Low Countries in May 1940, public hysteria led to calls for mass internment in case there was a ‘Fifth Column’ of foreign spies and saboteurs. However, the vast majority of those interned in Britain during the War were refugees who had fled religious or political persecution before the war. Arrested by the police, sent to hastily constructed transit camps at racecourses, unfinished housing estates, or in one case an abandoned factory, and then moved to the Isle of Man, Australia, or Canada, internment was a traumatic experience for those involved. Campaigns by refugee charities, prominent MPs, and public discovery of the most controversial aspect of internment – transport abroad – led to the start of the release process. Release was often slowed by bureaucracy and was significantly more challenging for those internees who had been deported to Canada and Australia. Yet, despite all these trials and tribulations, the internees made the most of their situations and created thriving environments despite their lack of resources.

Dr Rachel Pistol is based in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, working on the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI). Prior to this, she was at the University of Exeter, where she remains an Honorary Research Fellow, and Royal Holloway, University of London. Her first book, Second World War Internment: A Comparative Study of Great Britain and the USA, was published by Bloomsbury in 2017 and her co-edited volume, The Jews, the Holocaust and the Public: The Legacies of David Cesarani, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.  Rachel has appeared on TV and radio for the BBC and Sky News and has been interviewed for various television documentaries on Second World War history. She has written articles for The Conversation that have been reprinted in Newsweek and The Independent.

In conversation with John Mann, Lord Mann of Holbeck Moor HM Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism

In the summer of 2005, John Mann, Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw, was appointed Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism (APPG). John has commissioned two major All-Party Inquiries into Antisemitism and a further inquiry into Electoral Conduct. In 2008, John established the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). In May 2009, John received the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC’s) Jan Karski Award in recognition of his commitment and work in fighting antisemitism. In 2010, he chaired the Football Association’s Task Force on Antisemitism and Islamophobia in football.
In July 2019, John Mann stepped down as Chair of the All- Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism when he was appointed the Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism in one of Theresa May’s final acts as Prime Minister.

Genius and Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World 1847-1947

Between the middle of the 19th and 20th centuries, some three-dozen individuals changed the way we see the world. About half were Jews. How is that possible? Some are well known – Marx, Freud, Proust, Einstein, Kafka. Others have vanished from collective memory despite their enduring importance in our daily lives. Without Karl Landsteiner, for instance, there would be no blood transfusions or major surgery. Without Paul Ehrlich no chemotherapy. Without Siegfried Marcus no motor car. Without Rosalind Franklin genetic science would look very different. Without Fritz Haber there would not be enough food to sustain life on earth. How could Jews see what others could not?


Norman Lebrecht is a bestselling writer on classical music, author of The Maestro Myth, Why Mahler and much else. He is also a Whitbread Award-winning novelist. His first novel, The Song of Names, was released recently as a feature film with Clive Owen and Tim Roth. He lives in London

Cooking with Claire

This week’s recipes:

Lebanese Aubergines with Chickpeas: Mnazaleh*

Anne’s Yoghurt Cake with lemon drizzle frosting

In conversation with Lucy Manning

Lucy Manning is a BBC News special correspondent based in London. Prior to joining BBC News on September 9, 2014. Lucy was a UK editor for ITV News he was part of the team that won a BAFTA for their coverage of the Woolwich Attacks

Cooking with Clare

This week’s recipes:

Claire’s Vegetable Lasagna

Whole Oat Crunchies

We're Living Through the Breakdown and Here's What We Can Do About It

The Breakdown is a smart, entertaining guide to politics in a messed up world – and to what we can do about it.
We have just come through the five most turbulent years in our peacetime history and start a new decade seemingly angrier and more divided than ever. All of which has led us to The Breakdown. The breakdown of communication. The breakdown of understanding. The breakdown in trust.
Tatton Spiller is the founder of Simple Politics, the hugely successful project that makes politics clear and interesting. He has been a journalist and a teacher, and worked at the Houses of Parliament. Simple Politics has a social media following of over 350,000 and Tatton speaks country-wide. His growing media profile includes appearances on national TV, radio, podcasts and columns for Metro.


To order the book from Blackwells click here

Follow Bradford's Jewish Heritage Trail - a virtual walk through the City's Past

Bradford has many monuments to the Jews who came from Germany in the nineteenth Century to build the ‘Wool Capital of the World’ . This afternoon’s talk will visit the monuments and tell you some of the many stories about the people and personalities who were part of the great Victorian city.

Nigel Grizzard came North after working as researcher for the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Working in Bradford he became aware of the city’s Jewish past and has researched, written and guided many groups around the city. Nigel is now the Jewish Heritage Guide for Yorkshire and is looking forward to the day when he can take groups around Yorkshire’s Jewish sites.

The Cabinet of Calm: Soothing Words for Troubled Times

For almost a decade, Paul Anthony Jones has written about the oddities and origins of the English language, amassing a vast collection of some of its more unusual words. Last year, doubly bereaved and struggling to regain his spirits, he turned to words – words that could be applied to difficult, challenging times and found solace. The Cabinet of Calm is the result. Paul has unearthed fifty-one linguistic remedies to offer reassurance, inspiration and hope in the face of such feelings as grief and despair, homesickness and exhaustion, worry about the future and a loss of hope.

Paul has a Masters in Linguistics and is a language blogger from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. His obsession with words began with a child’s dictionary he received as a Christmas present when he was eight years old. As @HaggardHawks he has tweeted obscure words since 2013 and now has a social media following of over 75k, including the likes of JK Rowling, Robert Macfarlane, Susie Dent, Richard Osman, Greg Jenner, Ian McMillan, Rufus Sewell, Simon Mayo, Michael Rosen and Cerys Matthews. HaggardHawks.com brings together the entire HH network including a blog, books, quizzes and games, the 500 Words YouTube series, Instagram gallery and newsletter. He regularly contributes to the media.

To order the book from Blackwells click here

Britain’s Jews and the First World War

Paula Kitching will be talking about her book which looks at the involvement of British Jews in the Great War. Amongst the hundreds of thousands who died during the conflict, 137 Jewish men from Leeds perished in service of King and Country.


Paula Kitching (MSc) is a historian and writer, specialising in war, genocides and cultural history. Paula has written for educational publications, books, museums, and website publication. As a freelancer Paula has advised, initiated and led projects on the Holocaust, 20th century conflicts and minority and ethnic histories. She has worked for: The Department of Education and Skills; The Royal British Legion; the Historical Association; the London Jewish Cultural Centre; The Association of Jewish ex-servicemen and women – AJEX; and Believe in Me.

For over 15 years Paula has been a history guide and continues to take groups to the Western Front, Normandy, Krakow and Berlin. Recently she has led the Royal Air Force centenary project ‘RAF100Schools’ – an RAF funded project for the Historical Association working with the Institute of Physics. For the last three years and continuing she has been the historian and project manager for ‘We Were There Too – Jews in the First World War’ and for the last year the Historian and educationalist on Journeys Home- South Asian servicemen and the First World War. She continues to work with the Historical Association, We Were There Too, AJEX; and projects on Indian Servicewomen and the Second World War.

In February 2019, her new book Britain’s Jews and the First World War (Amberley Press) was published.

To order the book from Blackwells click here

Red Sea Spies: The True Story of Mossad's Fake Diving

It was one of the most extraordinary and audacious operations ever hatched by the Mossad: to spirit to Israel a lost Biblical tribe of Jews from deep inside enemy territory – and using a fake holiday resort as cover to do it. In the early 1980s, Israeli secret agents pulled off this incredible mission, saving the Jews of Ethiopia from the brink of extinction as a result. The story of drama, danger and daring-do inspired the Netflix movie The Red Diving Resort and is told in full for the first time in Raffi Berg’s new book Red Sea Spies, written in collaboration with the Mossad commander and members of his team who carried it out.

Raffi Berg grew up in Southport, Merseyside, before moving to London to work in TV news in the 1990s. A journalist for nearly 30 years, he has worked for news organisations including ITN, Sky and the Associated Press. Raffi joined the BBC in 2001 and was appointed the BBC News website Middle East editor in 2013. He lives with his wife and two children in Stanmore, London, and is a member of Belmont United Synagogue.

Cooking with Claire

This week’s recipes:


Banoffee Pie

Follow Ilkley's Jewish Heritage Trail - a virtual walk through the town's Past

This afternoon’s talk will visit the monuments and tell you some of the many stories about the people and personalities who were part of the town’s history.
Nigel Grizzard came North after working as researcher for the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Working in West Yorkshire he became aware of the county’s wider Jewish past and has researched, written and guided many groups around a number of different towns and cities. Nigel is now the Jewish Heritage Guide for Yorkshire and is looking forward to the day when he can take groups around Yorkshire’s Jewish sites.

In conversation with ...

Ashley Blaker was in conversation with Jonathan Straight exploring the world of writing and performing comedy in particular looking at how main stream comedy is having to meet the demands of a changing social environment

Ashley Blaker is an internationally acclaimed comedian, seen and heard on TV and radio across the world. He has performed on five continents including tours of the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Israel and Australia. His 2018 Off-Broadway run was called ‘a slickly funny stand-up show’ by the New York Times and in 2020 he returned with ‘Goy Friendly’ which ran at the prestigious SoHo Playhouse.

In August 2018, Ashley made his debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a sold-out run of his show ‘Observant Jew’. In May 2019, he began a sold-out tour of his new show ‘Prophet Sharing’ alongside Muslim comedian Imran Yusuf. He is the first Orthodox Jewish comedian to be given his own BBC show – ‘Ashley Blaker’s Goyish Guide To Judaism’ – which returned in October 2019 to rave reviews.

In October 2019, Ashley also produced the triumphant return of the comedy phenomenon ‘Little Britain’ after a 12 year hiatus. As an award-winning comedy writer and producer, he has worked with a who’s who of British comedy.
If he has any free time, then it’s spent being run ragged by his six children and two cats.