Visit to the Jewish Museum in Camden
10th November 2022
Aldersgate Ward Club Visit to the Jewish Museum in Camden on Thursday 8th November 2022
The recently installed Master Rachelle Goldberg arranged a splendid visit for the first event of her year. Unfortunately, the visit coincided with a strike on the underground but in true determined spirit eighteen members of the Ward Club found alternative routes by train and bus to arrive in time. In one case two people walked from Westminster to Camden.
We began with drinks and a very relaxed lunch in the Spread Eagle pub where we were able to enjoy each others company in the private dining facility. The Spread Eagle was conveniently located only a few meters from the Museum where we were greeted by our guide who was a member of the research team.
The Museum did not disappoint. The Museum holds approximately 40,000 objects of which only 10 % were on display. At the beginning of the exhibition we saw The Mikveh, an outstanding example of a 13th century purification bath which was recovered from a building site in the City of London in 2001. The Mikveh was built in the home of the Crespin family who lived in the area during the medieval period and has been reconstructed to look similar to when it was first discovered.
The Torah scroll, a section of which is read on the Sabbath each week had pride of place in the major exhibition room and was exquisite. Scribed in Hebrew,we were told that if mistakes are made whilst creating the Torah it then has to be completely rewritten! The closet housing the Torah was a beautiful piece and had been found in the country and expertly transported to its current resting place.
The history of the Jewish Community in England is interestingly documented and displayed, charting the arrival of immigrant groups in 1066, having been invited by William the Conqueror, and then expelled by Edward the first before then being encouraged to return by Oliver Cromwell in 1656. At this time the Jews were then allowed to practise their faith openly. The reasons behind the resettlement of the Jews into England is unclear but it is thought that Oliver Cromwell wanted to take attract the rich Jews of Amsterdam to London so they might transfer their important trade interests with the Spanish mainland.
This was such an excellent and interesting visit that the Museum needs to be revisited. Thank you Master for such a good event.
Past Master Jan Yerbury