webinars

Catch up with our online events

Litigation records and Jewish daily life in medieval English towns: a case from thirteenth-century Warwick

Litigation records are critically important and much-neglected source for the study of the Jews of medieval England. In this paper, rather than use the litigation records to illuminate Jewish legal action, I will explore ways in which the incidental detail of a plea entries may be used to shed light on the mundane and ‘everyday’ of Jewish life in medieval England. I will focus on a case from the town of Warwick in the 1240s.

Originally from Australia, Emma Cavall did her D.Phil at Oxford and then held posts at several universities (incl. the University of Leeds), before joining the History Dept at Swansea. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at Swansea University with specialisms in women and gender, aristocratic society in the March of Wales, and law and litigation – in England and Wales between c. 1000 and 1300. Most recently Emma have been working on Jewish women litigants in thirteenth century England.

Here is a link to Emma’s paper   on Jewish women’s litigation. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/law-and-history-review/article/abs/measure-of-her-actions-a-quantitative-assessment-of-anglojewish-womens-litigation-at-the-exchequer-of-the-jews-121981/093AF25D44D797039D466CD799AFD8CD


The Taming of the Jew

Traveling through the four nations that make up the Kingdom — Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales — Tuvia visits many places and interviews people all around the United Kingdom. If you look for him, you can find him napping in Winston Churchill’s room, sleeping on Hillary Clinton’s bed, playing cat and mouse with Jeremy Corbyn, smoking forbidden tobacco with Nigel Farage, eating a monster, and stalking a she-ghost.

 

Tuvia Tenenbom, the author of three Spiegel bestsellers and four Israeli bestsellers, is a journalist, dramatist, and the founder of the Jewish Theater of New York. Tuvia studied for his doctorate in English literature at St. John’s University, earned his MFA in playwriting at CUNY-Brooklyn, BS in mathematics and computer science at Touro, and finished his rabbinical studies in Jerusalem. He also studied Christianity and Islam in Israel and New York as well as journalism, acting, theatre, and finance (at NYU)

To buy The Taming of the Jew click here


The Lost Café Schindler

When Meriel Schindler’s father Kurt died in 2017, she felt compelled to resolve her mixed feelings about him, and to solve the mysteries he had left behind.
Kurt Schindler was an impossible man. His daughter Meriel spent her adult life trying to keep him at bay. Kurt had made extravagant claims about their family history. Were they really related to Franz Kafka and Oscar Schindler, of Schindler’s List fame? Or Hitler’s Jewish doctor – Dr Bloch? Where exactly was Kurt on Kristallnacht, the night that Nazis beat his father half to death and ransacked the family home?
Starting with a tower of photos and papers found in Kurt’s isolated cottage, Meriel embarked on an epic journey of discovery that took her to Austria, Italy and the USA. She reconnected family members scattered by feuding and war. She pieced together a unique story taking in two centuries, two world wars and a family business: the famous Café Schindler. Launched in 1922 as an antidote to the horrors of the First World War, this grand café became the whirling social centre of Innsbruck. And then the Nazis arrived…
Meticulously researched and highly moving, The Lost Café Schindler uses the story of the Café Schindler and the threads that spool out from it to weave together memoir, family history and the untold story of the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

 

To purchase  The Lost Café Schindler  click here

 

PLEASE NOTE: This talk was a test event and there were some issues at the beginning. Unfortunately Jonathan’s introduction has had to be delted due to poor sound quality


Kosher Foxtrot

Core to the ‘Golden Age of Dance Bands’ in Britain during the last century were the bandleaders.
Many came from the East End of London or North Manchester……and they were Jewish! They were there at the beginning of the Golden Age, and there at its decline. They hobnobbed with royalty, were regulars on the BBC and sold millions of records. They were the popstars of their era.
They played at the finest restaurants and cafes in Britain, or with the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people at dance halls, works canteens, village halls around the land.
When it was all over many struggled to come to terms with the changes, but some adapted and one or two became even more famous.
Discover their story, and how, if at all, their Judaism showed in what they did.

Born in the small shtetl of Manchester, Tony has a background as an educator and communicator, and is a trivia maven collecting the arcane and obscure, especially if Jewish. In recent years he has become aware that a great deal of Jewish History is being forgotten or ignored.

To purchase Kosher Foxtrot click here

Tony has been working hard to rescue it from oblivion.  To this end he has written a number of books, including “Kosher Foxtrot”, “Jews and the Sea” and  “The Definitive Guide to Jewish Miscellany and Trivia”, and regularly gives talks to large and small groups. He is a member of the Jewish Historical Society of England  and was called by the Jewish Chronicle “a mine of information”


Jewish Tailors’ Trade Unions in Leeds

This talk explores the rise, fall and rise again of Jewish Tailors’ Trade Unions in Leeds. It looks at the reasons behind the creation of the unions, at the success and failure of leadership and at the co-operation of the Leeds Jewish and non-Jewish clothing unions which led to the creation of the national United Garment Workers’ Trade Union in 1915. It questions whether the support for the Jewish unions resulted from the workers’ desire for protection from the employers or their belief in the ethos of organised labour and why the Leeds Jewish unions were more successful than their London counterparts.


Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China

Journey with author Jonathan Kaufman as he tells the remarkable story of the Sassoon and the Kadoorie families who stood astride Chinese history, business, and politics for more than 175 years from the 19th century until today. Originally from Baghdad, these families profited from the Opium Wars; survived Japanese occupation; courted Chiang Kai-shek; and lost nearly everything as the Communists swept into power. The book lays bare the moral compromises of the Kadoories and the Sassoons–and their exceptional foresight, success, and generosity. At the height of World War II, they joined together to rescue and protect eighteen thousand Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism

Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has written and reported on China for thirty years for The Boston Globe, where he covered the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square; The Wall Street Journal, where he served as China bureau chief from 2002 to 2005; and Bloomberg News. He is the author of A Hole in the Heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe and Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. He is director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston

 

To order the book click here


The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed

In 2009, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies was shown a photograph just brought to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentation of the Holocaust is vast, but there are few known images of a Jewish family at the actual moment of murder, in this case by German officials and Ukrainian collaborators. A Ukrainian shooter’s rifle is inches from a woman’s head, obscured in a cloud of smoke. The woman is bending forward, holding the hand of a barefoot boy. And—only one of the shocking revelations of Wendy Lower’s ten-year investigation of this image—the shins of another child, slipping from the woman’s lap.

Wendy Lower’s detective work—in Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Israel, and the United States—recovers astonishing layers of detail concerning the open-air massacres in Ukraine. Her search for the identities of the victims, of the killers—and, remarkably, of the photographer who openly took the picture, as a secret act of resistance—are dramatically uncovered. Finally, in the hands of this scholar, a single image unlocks a new understanding of the place of the family unit in the history and aftermath of Nazi genocide

Wendy Lower is the John K. Roth Professor of History and Director of the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College. Lower chairs the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and served as Acting Director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the USHMM (2016-2018).  She is the author of Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine (2005), The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia (2011); and co- editor (with Ray Brandon) of Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization (2008). Her book, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (2013) was a finalist for the National Book Award and has been translated into 24 languages. Her latest book, The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed, was published in February 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

To purchase the book click here

 


War of Shadows

As World War II raged in North Africa, General Irwin Rommel was guided by an uncanny sense of his enemies’ plans and weaknesses. In the summer of 1942, he led his Axis army swiftly and terrifyingly toward Alexandria, with the goal of overrunning the entire Middle East. Each step was informed by detailed updates on British positions. The Nazis, somehow, had a source for the Allies’ greatest secrets.

Yet the Axis powers were not the only ones with intelligence. Brilliant Allied cryptographers worked relentlessly at Bletchley Park, breaking down the extraordinarily complex Nazi code Enigma. From decoded German messages, they discovered that the enemy had a wealth of inside information. On the brink of disaster, a fevered and high-stakes search for the source began.

War of Shadows is the cinematic story of the race for information in the North African theatre of World War II, set against intrigues that spanned the Middle East. Years in the making, this book is a feat of historical research and storytelling, and a rethinking of the popular narrative of the war. It portrays the conflict not as an inevitable clash of heroes and villains but a spiralling series of failures, accidents, and desperate triumphs that decided the fate of the Middle East and quite possibly the outcome of the war.

Gershom Gorenberg is an American-born Israeli journalist and blogger specialising in the Middle East and the interaction of religion and politics

To buy the book click here


Beyond a Jewish yoke: the egg importers of Hull. A family story

he east European Jewish immigrants who settled in Britain from the 1870s to 1914 are remembered for their work in the clothing trade, and for furniture and shoe making and shop keeping. A less known but often successful occupation was their role in importing eggs from the Baltic and, more remarkably, Egypt. This talk will explain why this trade developed and why it is that I am not the great grandson of a multi-millionaire egg baron, but one that wasn’t quite so successful

Tony Kushner is Professor in the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations and History Department at the University of Southampton. He has written widely on the British Jewish experience, especially social history and comparative migration. His most recent books are The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys since 1685 (Manchester University Press, 2012) and Journeys from the Abyss: The Holocaust and Forced Migration from the 1880s to the Present (Liverpool University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a study of a Jewish triple murderer and, with Dr Aimee Bunting, Co-Presents to the Holocaust. He is co-editor of the journal Patterns of Prejudice and deputy editor of Jewish Culture and History.


Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore: Between tradition and Modernity

Humanitarian, philanthropist, and campaigner for Jewish emancipation on a grand scale, Sir Moses Montefiore (1784–1885) was the preeminent Jewish figure of the nineteenth century—and one of the first truly global celebrities. His wife, Judith, too was a remarkable woman who dared to venture where European few Jewish women were able to tread. Drawing on her acclaimed biography of Sir Moses, Abigail Green will discuss the life, work and legacy of this extraordinary couple – and reflect upon what it tells us about the place of Jewish men and women in the modern world

Abigail Green is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Oxford and Tutor and Fellow in Modern History at Brasenose College. She is the author of a prize-winning biography of Sir Moses Montefiore, and writes regularly for publications like the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. Abigail is currently writing a history of international Jewish liberal activism for Princeton University Press, entitled Children of 1848: Liberalism and the Jews from the Revolutions to Human Rights. She is also leading a major collaborative research project on Jewish country houses, in partnership with the National Trust.


Ich bin ein Berliner: (re)uniting 5 half-siblings from 4 different mothers

During the Covid19 pandemic in the UK in July 2020 a woman asked for help in identifying her newly-discovered (via DNA) Jewish birth-father. She could not imagine the story about to unfold. In the next three weeks, following the DNA trail and building family trees for each of 8 significant DNA hits on 3 different websites, her ties to four half-siblings were identified, all sharing the same father but with four different mothers. To be certain of the connections between the DNA matches and the half-siblings, it was necessary to use the JRI-Poland database to create family trees going back to the late 1700s. In the process the accuracy of the DNA-estimated family relationships could be compared with the true family relationships and the impact of any endogamy could be analysed.

 

Michael is a co-founder and Board Member of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (1995-); Vice President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB 2019-); Honorary Research Fellow – Genealogical Studies, University of Strathclyde (2020-); Former Vice President, Programming of JewishGen, Inc (1995-2018). He was Database matching consultant to the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.  Michael was awarded the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Lifetime Achievement award in Washington in 2011. He was awarded the OBE for services to the Jewish Community in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021.

 

 

 

A number of attendees have asked for copies of the first group of slides from Michael’s talk giving details of the organisation involved in DNA analysis

 

Here is a link to these

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pv1q8jkbr9v0dm8/DNA%20slides%5B2%5D%20%20-%20%20Read-Only%20%20-%20%20Compatibility%20Mode.ppt?dl=0

 

 

 


Ten Days

Wolf’s recently-estranged wife Miriam passes away suddenly, leaving him and their teenage daughter, Ruth, behind. They travel to New York from London to scatter Miriam’s ashes in the Hudson River during the ten High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But Miriam’s conservative Jewish family are adamantly against her choice of burial. Wolf must balance these complex tensions while at the same time attempting to reconnect with his daughter, from whom he has kept a devastating secret.

 

A hugely moving novel about family bonds under strain, Ten Days asks fundamental questions about life and death that will stay with you a long time after the final page.

AUSTIN DUFFY’s debut novel This Living and Immortal Thing was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, was Runner-Up for the McKitterick Prize and was highly commended for the BMA Medical Books Awards. Duffy grew up in Ireland, studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin and is a practising medical oncologist. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

 

To purchase Ten Days click here


The SS Officer's Armchair

It began with an armchair. It began with the surprise discovery of a stash of personal documents covered in swastikas sewn into its cushion. The SS Officer’s Armchair is the story of what happened next, as Daniel Lee follows the trail of cold calls, documents, coincidences and family secrets, to uncover the life of one Dr Robert Griesinger from Stuttgart. Who was he? What had his life been – and how had it ended?

Daniel Lee reveals the strange life of a man whose ambition propelled him to become part of the Nazi machinery of terror. He discovers his unexpected ancestral roots, untold stories of SS life and family fragmentation. As Lee delves deeper, Griesinger’s responsibility as an active participant in Nazi crimes becomes clearer.

Dr Robert Griesinger’s name is not infamous. But to understand the inner workings of the Third Reich, we need to know not just its leaders, but the ordinary Nazis who made up its ranks. Revealing how Griesinger’s choices reverberate into present-day Germany, and among descendants of perpetrators, Lee raises potent questions about blame, manipulation and responsibility.

A historical detective story and a gripping account of one historian’s hunt for answers, The SS Officer’s Armchair is at once a unique addition to our understanding of Nazi Germany and a chilling reminder of how such regimes are made not by monsters, but by ordinary people.

Paperback edition now out

£7.79 via Amazon

Click here to purchase

For more details click here


A military lunatic asylum in Buckinghamshire – the Jews at Bletchley Park

Maybe unsurprisingly, Britain’s top-secret WW2 decoding centre at Bletchley Park had a hugely disproportionate number of Jews working there. Yanky describes some of the Jewish decoders and other personnel, and also explores some unexpected links between Bletchley Park and the future State of Israel


Laughing all the way to Freedom

In his autobiographical trilogy, lively, evocative, and rich with humor, Hunter College Russian professor Emil Draitser describes his life as a Jew in the Soviet Union. Shush! Growing up Jewish under Stalin opens with the author’s startling discovery: many years after making his way to America from Odessa in Soviet Ukraine, every time he uttered the remark “Jewish”—even in casual conversation—he lowered his voice.

This behavior was a natural by-product, he realized, of growing up in the anti-Semitic, post-Holocaust, Soviet Union when “Shush!” was the most frequent word he heard from his parents trying to keep a low profile. The compelling memoir provides a unique account of mid-twentieth-century existence in Russia as the young Draitser struggles to reconcile the harsh values of Soviet society with the values of his working-class Jewish family.

In Jaws of the Crocodile covers Emil’s adult years in the Soviet Union, focusing on his work for Krokodil, a major satirical publication, which was allowed “to ridicule things the state apparatus has proved wrong and worthy of criticism.” The book explores what it means to be a satirist and a Jew in a country lacking freedom of expression. His experience provides a window into the lives of a generation of artists who could poke fun and make readers laugh, as long as they toed a narrow, state-approved line.

Farewell, Mama Odessa is devoted to the travails of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union and adjustment to life in a totally different culture. Drawing on the rich tradition of Odessan humor, this autobiographical novel explores the most powerful innate motivation that drives many people to leave the country they were born and raised, about their hopes and dreams, their aspirations to achieve their full human potential.