Preserving the Memory of a Community
by Molly Preger, History student at the University of Sheffield
Even as an outsider, the worth of the Sheffield Jewish Journal as a historical document is clear, and it is unfortunate that it has yet to receive the academic attention it deserves. For almost forty years, the Journal remained at the heart of the community it was intended to serve, and was popularly received by most. It included notes on local events and as well as upon events abroad, making it a useful window into Jewish opinion.
The catastrophic happenings of the mid-twentieth century are diffused throughout, yet it also manages to predominantly offer a history of the Jewish community in Sheffield. The Journal’s pages also hold a few surprises for the reader, in that they (seemingly ahead of their time) cover some more controversial issues. For instance, an article from 1945 entitled ‘The Headless Women of Jewry’ certainly catches the eye, providing a provocative attack upon the treatment of women within Judaism. The Sheffield Jewish Community itself provides an interesting conundrum too, having declined to the point where non-Jewish locals are found to be questioning its actual existence. Again, the Journal provides an invaluable insight to this, as it exemplifies the modernity of this particular community that many of its remaining members hold to blame for its demise.
A six-week Summer research project (enabled by the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience) does not fulfil the curiosity that such a collection of documents invokes. I hope they eventually get the recognition they deserve, if not via my efforts then through one of my contemporaries.