I am neither a historian, decent author or a journalist and the chances are, unless there is a link or reference to somewhere else, the perpetrator is your's truly-Renaud Sarda.
I created this blog as a focal point, to arm friends and people with arguments and facts that they could perhaps use to counter the anti- Israel propaganda, biased media and Israel boycott campaign.
I am a Zionist and a proud Sephardi Jew who will fly the Israeli flag, and defend whatever Israel does.
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Tuesday, 5 June 2012
East End Jewish treasure resurfaces for its second diamond jubilee
Synagogue in Spitalfields unearths long-lost velvet cloth richly embroidered for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897
The embroidered bimah cover for Queen Victoria's diamond jubillee celebrations in 1897, found in pristine condition in the Sandys Row synagogue's cellar. Photograph: jeremy Freedman
Many of the boxes stacked among broken furniture and old electrical fittings in the dusty cellar of Sandys Row Synagogue in Spitalfields, the last still in daily use in what was once the heart of the Jewish East End, turned out to be rather disappointing.
However, one unpromising box did hide a real treasure: a superb purple velvet cloth embroidered in silk and gold wire, paid for by the women of the community to celebrate the last Diamond Jubilee, of Queen Victoria in 1897.
It will go on public display in the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in Londonthis summer, for the first time since it was folded away carefully after the last celebrations. It came out of the box in pristine condition, the gold shimmering as if it was embroidered yesterday.
"This would have cost a fortune, hundreds of pounds, and it was a magnificent achievement for the women of our synagogue," said Jeremy Freedman, one of the descendants of the founding fathers of the synagogue. "This was never a wealthy community: these women were market traders in Petticoat Lane, people came to the synagogue on alternate days – one would come here and the other would mind both stalls, the next day they'd change places. How they found the money for this I cannot imagine."
There is still a daily lunchtime service, and one every other Saturday, but the market traders are long gone. Freedman is a photographer – he has contributed many striking images of daily life in the area to theSpitalfields Life blog – and his father, Henry, a retired accountant.
Descendants of the synagogue's original founding families are scattered across the world – recently the synagogue housed a reunion of scores of Hamburgs and Mekelburgs, two families who lived side by side inAmsterdam where, like most of the community, they worked as cigar makers, and then in Spitalfields, where they became fruit and veg sellers – but the remaining members are few and ageing.
The synagogue is so hidden away in a narrow lane that even people working a few streets away are unaware of its existence. It was built in 1766 as a Huguenot church, then a chapel, but it had become a lockup store when the founders first rented it in 1854. They then bought the freehold and ingeniously adapted the building to align it towards Jerusalem while retaining a remarkable amount of the Georgian interior.
A £400,000 restoration of the roof and interior was recently completed with major grants from English Heritage for the Grade II-listed building, after the discovery that bomb damage from the Blitz had shifted the roof timbers so that they were resting only on decaying plaster.
There are more spectacular textiles than the embroidered jubilee cloth and also archives awaiting conservation and display.
"The building looks beautiful again now, but it needs a new life, a new purpose. The truth is that the writing is on the wall for Sandys Row unless we find that."
Freedman, who wants more people to share in the building's rich Jewish past, fears that the Jewish contribution to East End history is becoming largely forgotten.
• The synagogue is open daily for services. For guided visits, bookthrough the website.