Class, ethnicity and politics in the Jewish East End, 191 8-1939

Several years ago the ]ewish Chronicle Co|our Magazine featured on its cover a middle-class professional couple in their stripped-pine home in Hackney. The caption on the photograph read _The real East Enders’.((]ewish Chronicle Colour Magazine 6 Dec. 1985.)) An added irony was that the woman was in fact an American. For me, this scene encapsulated the myth that any present-dayJewish East Ender, below retirement age, must be a newly arrived middle-class professional. The reality is somewhat different. There are _real’ Jewish East Enders, like myself, but we are often hidden from official Jewish sources because we do not conform to what is popularly perceived as the norm. By not belonging to a synagogue or participating inJewish organizations, we are often excluded from accounts of the contemporary Anglo-Jewish experience.

This failure to understand the nature of the Anglo-Jewish community, or at least certain sections of it, is not new. ThoseJews who

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