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

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London

Cemetery curiosities.......
Fascinating finds can be made when exploring cemeteries.  I recently had a guide walk round West Norwood cemetery - great fun - and proof that we are all mortal no matter how illustrious we are, and that everything ultimately falls into decay.  Many great and good Victorians are buried beneath crumbling monuments and thick brambles...which in a curious way adds to the attraction of the place.  Desolation has a certain romance to it.  The Jewish connection with the graves below caught my eye:
Firstly, the grave of Baron Julius de Reuter, founder of Reuters news agency.  The Jewish connection is that he was born a Jew, the son of a rabbi and his birth name was Israel Beer Josaphat. He changed it and converted to Christianity in order to marry the Christian woman he loved.  Nevertheless, innumerable articles in the Jewish Chronicle published during his lifetime refer to him as a Jew.  A curious footnote to this is the plaque at the foot of the grave placed there in 2002 by Reuters which corrects the misspelling of the name 'Julius' on the headstone.  What they fail to correct is that Julius was not his birth name.

...and secondly the grave of  Reverend David Abraham Herschell (and his wife Maria) below.  The inscription says:
'Founder of and for 31 years Minister of Loughborough Park Chapel, Brixton, and of Homes for Aged Christians. A Jew by birth, a Christian by Grace. "Looking for the Mercy of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, unto Eternal Life." By his wish inscribed.'
Reverend David Abraham Herschell was on the advisory council of a Victorian organisation known as "The Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel." which among other activities, hired the Brunswick (formerly Zion) chapel, in the Mile End Road, where meetings were held on the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish families were visited in their homes and spoken with in the streets. 
I can remember as a boy frequently going past the oddly named East London Christian Mission to the Hebrews on the Whitechapel Road near the corner with Vallance Road.  I wonder if Reverend Herschell had any connection?  While on the strange subject of Christian missionaries, take a look at this curiosity: Christ Church, Spitalfields

Moving away from West Norwood cemetery, a correspondent sent me an interesting cutting from a1920 East London newspaper about a Chinese funeral which took place off Poplar High Street, Poplar, East London - presumably in St Matthias churchyard. The photo is below:

There is a rather hard to read inscription at the bottom of the photo which I reproduce below.  Note the point about the need to have an accredited minister in attendance - in this case a rabbi.

The newspaper report said the following:

so now you know!

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