Background to the Jewish Community in Hull
Over the 300 years since the Jewish community first put down roots at a former Catholic chapel in Posterngate its presence in Hull has brought a vitality to the city.
Sports clubs, drama societies, and welfare organisations established by Jewish residents have contributed much to the cultural life of the city, and have been the breeding ground of local sportsmen and entertainers, most notably the actress Maureen Lipman.
During both WWI and WWII local Jewish men and women gave their lives to the war effort, a notable example being that of Captain Isidore Newman who was post-humously awarded an MBE (Military Division) for undercover work in Nazi Germany.
The economic vitality of the city has been supported by numerous Jewish businesses, such as the architects firm started by B.S. Jacobs, the jewellers Segal’s, the solicitors Graham and Rosen, and the accountants Sadofsky’s.
Individual members of the community such as Leo Schultz, Victor Dumoulin, Edward Gosschalk, Benno Pearlman, and various members of the Rosen family have contributed much to the civic life of the city through their work as mayors, sheriffs, and societal leaders.
In 2010 Hull History Centre received the records of the Jewish Community in Hull, a large collection of over 60 boxes containing papers documenting the history of the Jewish population of Hull.
What records will I find in the collection?
Records relate largely to the Ashkenazi Orthodox section of the Jewish community, although some references can be found to the Reform section of the community. Records include the following:
- C DJC/1 - Papers relating to Hull based Jewish organisations responsible for regulating and overseeing the lives and wellbeing of the community's members, 1860-2011
- C DJC/2 - Papers relating to the administration and activities of individual Congregations and Synagogues in Hull, 1852-2010
- C DJC/3 - Secondary source evidence of the Hull Jewish Community including biographical works, 1767-2010
- C DJC/4 - Research papers collated by individuals associated with the community, 20th-21st century. Papers consist of minutes, marriage registers, burial board registers, correspondence, ledgers, annual reports, accounts and receipts, photographs, press cuttings, printed ephemera, etc.
What Jewish organisations are represented in the records?
At least 34 Jewish organisations have existed to provide for the community’s spiritual, social, cultural, and sporting life since the late 1800s, these include the following:
- C DJC/1/3 - The Board of Shechita founded in the early 20th century to oversee the provision of kosher food in the city
- C DJC/1/5 - The Communal Chevra Kadisha, a burial board first formed in 1937 with responsibility for the maintenance of cemeteries and for ensuring the proper burial of its members
- C DJC/1/9 - The Board of Guardians established in 1880 to co-ordinate charity efforts and to ensure the welfare of the Jewish poor, with a home for elderly Jews at Anlaby Road
- C DJC/1/19 - The Representative Council formed in the 1940s to safeguard the interests of the Jewish community in the local arena and to inform the community of issues affecting them. The Council was also responsible for the publication of ‘The Watchman’ [C DJC/1/20], a newsletter serving the Jewish community in Hull which was first published by Rabbi Rabinowitz in 1957
- C DJC/1/23 - The Judeans Maccabi Association started in 1919 as a cricket club and developing into an association of Jewish sports clubs and a drama groups, with a cricket pavillion at The Circle, Anlaby Road, and a coffee bar at Lower Union Street.
What Jewish congregations are represented in the records?
A number of Jewish congregations practicing the Ashkenazi Orthodox ritual have existed in Hull since the 1780s, these include the following main congregations:
- C DJC/2/1 - Hull Hebrew Congregation in existence from at least the 1780s with successive premises in Posterngate, Parade Row, and Robinson Row
- C DJC/2/1 - Hull Old Hebrew Congregation, the renamed congregation of the Hull Hebrew Congregation instituted in 1902 with a synagogue at Osborne Street, and lasting until 1992
- C DJC/2/2 - Hull Western Congregation, formed in 1902 when a group of families split from the Hull Hebrew Congregation to found a synagogue at Linnaeus Street, and lasting until 1992
- C DJC/2/3 - Hull Central Congregation, formed in 1886 at Waltham Street before moving to Cogan Street and then Park Street before closing in 1976
- C DJC/2/4 - Hull Hebrew Congregation, the current Orthodox congregation formed in 1992 with the amalgamation of the Hull Western and Old Hebrew congregations at a united synagogue in Pryme Street
A Reform congregation has also existed in Hull since the 1960s:
- C DJC/2/5 - Ne’ve Shalom Synagogue, formed in Hull during the 1960s when services were held peripatetically before the congregation acquired premises in Great Gutter Lane, Willerby.
How can I use this collection in my research?
Records in this collection can be used to undertake research on a wide range of subjects associated with Jewish history including:
- Family history
- Spiritual life and activities
- Social and cultural life and activities
- Education and youth
- Charity work
This collection can also be used for more general research into the history of Hull as a city and includes records relevant to the following:
- Immigration and transmigration
- Societies and associations
- Social make-up of the city
- Civic life and personalities
What language are the records written in?
Most of the records are written in English and there is little need of a knowledge of Hebrew. However, some registers record names in Hebrew and English. A very small number of records are written in Hebrew only.
Do I need to know the Jewish calendar to date the records?
Most dates are recorded in using both the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars. However, in some instances it may be helpful to have a knowledge of Jewish festivals. A useful tool for converting dates between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars can been found at http://www.hebcal.com
Are there any other materials relevent to the history of the Jewish community in Hull?
Various records are held at the Hull History Centre in addition to this collection that may aid research into the history of the Hull Jewish Community:
- C TED/2 - Contains records of the City Education Department including papers relating to the Hebrew Communal School at Lambert Street
- C BRE/7 - contains records relating to Alien Administration in the wake of the 1793 Aliens Act and includes papers relating to the registration of Jewish immigrants upon entry into ports at Hull and the surrounding area
- C TAB - contains building control plans and includes plans relating to various buildings owned and used by the Jewish Community in Hull
- OS maps often mark sites of relevance such as Jewish cemeteries and synagogues
- C TYP - contains records relating to war damaged buildings and include files relating to Jewish synagogues and buildings
- Papers relating to various prominent Jewish individuals serving as civic dignitaries can also be found amongst the records of the City Council. These include papers relating to Alderman Henry Feldman in C TMY and C DFM, Alderman Leo Schultz in C TYA, and Hull City Council Year Books recording the various mayors and sheriffs including those of Jewish heritage in C TMY/4.
In addition, there are a number of resources available elsewhere:
- The University of Southampton hosts the Jewish Archives Survey Database, a central point of reference for the existence of Jewish Archives in England and for Repositories in England holding these records.
- The archives of the Office of the Chief Rabbi are held at the London Metropolitan Archive and contain a wealth of information regarding the Jewish Community in Britain.
- The Jewish Military Museum London holds various archives relating to Jewish ex-servicemen and women including service books and records.