London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London

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Christian Street Talmud Torah....and the Yiddish National Theatre, Adler Street (both long gone)
I recently received an interesting letter from Ruth Migdale (formerly Mazin...any relation?).  It is reproduced below:

Hello Phil,

Just been e-mailed your website of Jewish East London, which I found so interesting. 

Surprised not to see any mention of the Christian Street Talmud Torah.  This was a really special synagogue, just off Cable Street, with a very large congregation, including various Charity groups, one of which was the " Boot and Meal Fund" committee, which presented my parents with a lovely pair of silver (shabbat) candlesticks (which I now have) for their wedding present in 1932.  I believe my "booba" was "Chair" of the committee.  The head of the synagogue was Samuel Fisher, who became a Mayor and was knighted. 

Anna Tzelniker was also a friend of mine: she died, sadly, last year.  I also knew her father, Meier.  I met them when, as a child, I went to the Yiddish Theatre (Adler Street), where my aunt, Anne Stephanie, was the pianist and Musical Director there. Anna's husband, Phil Bernstein, was the violinist, but Anna always retained her father's surname as her stage name.

My first encounter with Shakespeare was at that theatre, where the performance was "The Merchant of Venice", with Meier playing Shylock, and Anna playing Portia.  I was about 10 years old and still remember that famous quotation,

"Vat, Yid!!" in the Court scene......Ruth's letter continues after the photos

Mieir Tzelniker as Shylock in the 1940s Yiddish version of Merchant of Venice performed in the Yiddish National Theatre, Adler Street and referred to in Ruth's letter Anna Tzelniker in Nelson Street synagogue in 2005

Mieir Tzelniker as Shylock in the 1940s Yiddish version of Merchant of Venice performed in the Yiddish National Theatre, Adler Street and referred to in Ruth's letter

Anna Tzelniker in Nelson Street synagogue in 2005
The red fronted building above was once Christian Street Talmud Torah.  Cable Street is beyond the bridge Christian Street
The red fronted building above was once Christian Street Talmud Torah.  Cable Street is beyond the bridge

Christian Street

My sister and I, went to Fairclough Street School, which was a good 20 minutes walk from our home, and we had to pass Christian Street School (opposite the Synagogue) which was only a few minutes away from where we lived.  I guess the "powers that be" decided to organise it so that all the Jewish children went to Fairclough St.  In fact, most of the teachers there, including one Headmistress, Mrs Barnett, were Jewish and we had our own "prayers" every morning, in Hebrew.  Another thing that stands out in my mind, about Fairclough St. School, was that Roy James (one of the GREAT TRAIN ROBBERS) was in my class!

We were lucky to have had a wonderful education in that East End School.  I still remember so well, aged 5, sitting cross-legged in the Hall, listening and learning to hum to "The Unfinished Symphony".  Every morning we recited our "Times Tables" .

When I was 9, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of taking an exam. which I passed, to go the Raine's Foundation School Preparatory Dept. Arbour Square.  My sister had already passed the Scholarship and was there too.  We both are still friendly and in touch with friends we made there.

The plaque above is on the premises in Arbour Square - the plaque was removed from the building in Cannon Street Road

Above is Raines School in Arbour Square

Above is Raines in Cannon Street Road - now derelict

Regarding relations of our family Mazin, one of my cousins recently came across the grand-daughter of THE Joseph Mazin, of the Book Shop in Whitechapel.   She told my cousin that, we were in fact, related but there were reasons why her grandfather did not make contact.

I, unfortunately, never knew either of my grandfathers, but my mother's parents  had a sweet-shop in The Highway name of Nymitz- 

Anglicised to "Nyman" and the Mazins all  lived in Ship Alley immediately off The Highway.  My parents, my sister and I, lived in Wellclose Square, which had 4 Alleys and Ship Alley led down to The Highway.  The side of Wellclose Square, just before the part  which led to Ship Alley, was the Store-room and I guess sales-room of Miller's Antiques, which is now quite famous for the Annually published books.  Another Alley, off Wellclose Sq, of course leads to the now replenished, Wiltons Music Hall. I wish we had been "worldly" enough to appreciate all of that.

Leading from where Ship Alley joined The Highway, one could turn Right and a ten-minute walk away was the Tower of London.  I can remember playing in the sand and paddling in the river on a summer day.

During the War, the School in the middle of Wellclose Square became a Fire Station and Headquarters which monitored the enemy planes/bombers etc. aiming for the Docks.  My father was attached to them as an Air-Raid Warden and got a medal for his Bravery (which I have still) .  He was not allowed to join the British Forces, because he was regarded as an "Alien" - he was 2 years old when his mother brought the family, escaping from Russia, in 1904.

The house in which we lived had a short pathway and there was a communal underground Shelter built, with only the sloping black-tarmac roof and double doors showing.  It was "furnished" with two-tier bunks and the atmosphere was kept "light" by everyone (well almost everyone) singing all the popular songs of the time - trying to down out the noise of the enemy aircraft.

Hope all this has not bored you too much.

Look forward to hearing from you again,

 Best wishes,
 Ruth Migdale

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