The Changing Anglo-Jewish Community: Epitaph for the East End
“THE EAST END is not what it used to be”-the theme recurs in almost any conversation on London Jewry and its changing patterns of settlement and behavior. For over half a century the “East End”-to be more exact, the Jewish quarter of the East End -had been the home of most London Jews and the main focus of their communal existence. Now Jewish life is ebbing away from it.
The change is not immediately apparent to the daytime visitor or to the tourists who flock to the Petticoat Lane street-market on Sunday morning. Most shops, stalls, restaurants, clothing manufacturers, and wholesalers are still unmistakably Jewish, and so are many of the passers-by. Hebrew and Yiddish papers, prayer books and talleisim, beiglach and chopped herring-all signs of Jewishness in their own way- abound; notices in Yiddish are pasted up; synagogues, yeshivot, and mikvaot are scattered through the quarter. But when evening comes the factory owners and shop- keepers-and many of their customers too -make their way home to other parts of London; the synagogues remain half empty or derelict. On Shabbos few Jews, and still fewer Jewish families, can be seen making their way to and from synagogue along streets and lanes which twenty or thirty years ago were so tightly thronged with worshipers that the outsider felt ill at ease.
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