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

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London


(click photos to enlarge)

Jack White - still teaching, seen here with one of his pupilsIn December 2004 I received a letter from 79 year old Jack White who now lives in Israel but is an 'old boy' of the Jewish East End.  Jack was concerned at the absence of a reference to Redman's Road Talmud Torah, Stepney on my site.  An appeal to Jack to fill this void produced a marvellous article..  Jack not only tells us about Redman's Rd Talmud Torah, but he also mentions Philpot Street Great Synagogue, Chazan Adelman of Philpot Street synagogue,  the Reverend J K Goldbloom, and others. Redman's Road Talmud Torah closed around 1961.  Scroll down (or click on Redman's Rd Talmud Torah) to read Jack's article.  To read Jack's recollections of Philpot Street Great Synagogue click Philpot Street & Chazan Adelman Jack is still teaching in Israel & to the left is a photo of Jack with one of his pupils

PLUS.....To read Jack's memories of his Barmitzvah at Redman's Rd in the 1930's and to learn the secret of a well cut pair of 'gutkas' click on: BARMITZVAH

Pre War Redman's Road Talmud Torah Memories from Redman's Road old boy Jack White.  Jack grew up in Jubilee Street and was born Jack Weitzensang.  He now lives in Israel.

Redman's Rd Talmud Torah is circled in red - double click to enlarge mapRedman's road runs parallel to Mile End Road and runs from Jubilee Street to Stepney Green [almost] It is linked to Mile End Road by Assembly passage and in my days was the location of Mann, Crossman  Brewery, Redman's Road Junior Boys' School, and Girls' School. Also there, was one of East London's premier Wedding and Barmitzvah Hall -The Casino. I went to the Junior Boys' School, from where I managed to get a scholarship to Parmiter's school in Approach Road Bethnal Green. I remember my mother saying to her neighbours "My Jackie won money." This was not the purpose  of the scholarship but it did mean that all my books would be paid for and I would get a grant of nine pounds a year to pay for clothing and sports equipment. This increased to fifteen pounds when I reached fourteen and twenty four pounds when I reached sixteen. Paltry sums in these days, but without this grant, I could never have afforded to go to Grammar school. [I won't go into the stories of unemployment and charities and five siblings!]

This photo  was taken in the yard of Redmans Rd Cheder circa 1938 and sent in by Ivan Metzger - the boy in the centre with his hands together.At the far end of Redman's Road sat the Talmud Torah and Shul combined. This was entirely free to those who could not afford to pay the fees and we certainly fell into that category! There were eight classes and we started at 5.20 and went on till 8.00. Monday to Thursday and Sunday afternoon from 2.30 till 5.00.  The earlier classes finished at 7.00. The last half hour was spent just reading, as there were many boys, myself included who sang in Shul choirs and had rehearsals twice a week at 7.45. We were allowed to leave at 7.30 on rehearsal nights, so the classes were rather depleted at those times.

The photo above was taken in the yard of Redmans Rd Cheder circa 1938 and sent in by Ivan Metzger - the boy in the centre with his hands together.

circa 1938 Photo of Rev J K Goldbloom sitting sorrounded by his family.  His son Abraham is standing behind in the white jacket and dark tieReverend J K Goldbloom - Headmaster Redman's Rd Talmud TorahThe Headmaster was Rev. J.K Goldbloom, (see photo on left, and 1938 photo on the right showing Rev Goldbloom sitting with his family) a lovely man who dedicated his life to the Jewish education of East End kids. Unfortunately, his staff were not all up to his standard, many of them being underpaid schoolmasters trying to earn a little extra. Among them were some sadistic men whose only way to keep discipline was with the liberal use of the cane. That is not to say that there weren't boys who goaded them into action!

We started in the first class, learning Aleph-Bais and by the time we were in our third class, it was forbidden to speak English in class. If you didn't know how to say "Ha'im ani yachol latzais" you could wet yourself! One of the first things I learned was to say "Aich omrim----- be'ivris"

Abraham GoldbloomWe were taught to write and read script and we learned the Grammar. I believe that we were the only Talmud Torah which taught Ivris as a language to be spoken and not just to read parrot fashion.  By the age of 12, we started our evening with Mincha and/or Ma'ariv and we had to take it in turns to act as reader. At the same age, we started to learn Talmud, the class taken by Goldbloom's son Abraham (see photo left) who had inherited his father's knack of getting respect and keeping discipline by his personality and interesting lessons and not by waving a cane about.

The top class was taken by a wonderful teacher, Mr. Horovitz, known to us as "Shushi" as he was continually saying "Shush" His Hebrew was slightly better than his English and he used to say "If you don't be quiet, I'll break every teef in you body." His most famous saying was "I'll varn you vunce and I'll varn you tvice, but don't expect me to varn you a second time!!! They don't make them like that these days.  I stayed on after barmitzvah which took place in the shul which was formed by opening the folding partitions between the four classes in the yard.

On Rosh Chodesh  (the beginning of the Month on the Jewish Calendar- the New Moon),  those of us in post barmitzvah class were encouraged to come to Shacharit to make sure there would be a minyan. For this, we got twopence, which was twice my weekly pocket money!

When I came here to live (Israel), and started Ulpan, I blessed the Hebrew education that I received as it all came flooding back and I was soon speaking, reading and writing.  On my first visit to Israel in 1974, I was overjoyed to see that in Haifa, there was a new immigrants club, named for JKB.  May a Blessing be on his memory.  Rev J K Goldbloom died in 1961.

As a addition may I say that although Oxford and St. Georges gets a lengthy write up on your site, and as an Old boy I was pleased to see it, there were four other Jewish Youth Clubs in Stepney. The first was Brady, followed by Victoria and then Oxford. After these came Cambridge and Bethnal Green and Stepney Boys Club. These were all run by volunteers with the guidance of stalwarts like Sidney Drage, Ernie Lottinga, Flato and others in the mould of "the Gaffer" as Basil Henriques was known. These scions of wealthy families gave up their luxury living to devote themselves to the welfare of the underprivileged Jewish Youth of the east end.

Philpot Street Great Synagogue:

Philpot Street Great Synagogue - a 1922 photoAs far as singing in the Shul choirs was concerned, this was a good way for us to supplement the meagre income that came to our flats. I started at 2 shillings a quarter and by the time the war came  I was lead alto in the choir at Philpot Street Great synagogue.  I was paid the princely sum of 24 shillings a quarter. This went straight to my mum who used it to replenish the clothes that we all wore out with our football and other games like High Jimmy Nacker! Our chazan was the wonderful Chazan Adelman who was a perfectionist. Here is an apocryphal story. Philpot Street synagogue was an imposing building with twelve or so steps leading up to the entrance. One winter, the steps were iced over and the worthy chazan slipped and found himself in the gutter, bleeding from a cut in his head. He reached into his pocket, took out his tuning fork, rapped it on the kerb, put the fork to his ear and sang [in tune] "Oy Gevalt". 

Harry Mizzler - a Philpot Street Synagogue Boxing Story:

In those days one paid extra for a choir at a wedding.  If you had flowers in the shul you also paid extra.  It was not unusual to hear people boasting about their son's or daughter's wedding by puffing out their chest and saying, "The wedding is 'floral and choral."  What affluence!!! It was not unusual to have three or even five weddings on a Sunday.  In those days weddings had to take place in shuls, not halls or hotels as now.  I remember on one occasion singing the first 'number' which was 'Mah Tovuh', when the marriage secretary rushed up to the gallery where the choir was situated for weddings and said, "This is not a choral wedding, its the next one you are supposed to be singing at!"  We waited until after the ceremony and then started again when the genuine (paid for) wedding started.  We were paid between one shilling and sixpence and half a crown (7p and 12.5p) a wedding. I was half a crown when I became lead alto, and we were paid immediately after the ceremony.  The big wedding of the East End in those days was that of Harry Mizler, who was British Lightweight Champion.  After the ceremony he came personally to thank us for singing so well and told us that we would all be getting something extra in our pay - and we did, but that's another story** read Jack's piece below to find out a more about this choir fee**.  On leaving the shul he walked under an arch of well known boxers of the day holding up one arm with a boxing glove on it.

As far as the boxers at Harry Mizler's wedding are concerned, to the best of my recollection they were the principle Jewish East End boxers of the day. Jack (Kid) Berg would have been there.  Berg's mother used to sell toffee apples out of her front room window not far from where I lived in Jubilee Street. Ted (Kid) Lewis would also have been there. He had a pub in the West End. Also Benny Caplan, who on retiring from the ring, became an inspector with the buses at the Shoreditch Bus terminal. Benny was an old boy of Oxford and St.Georges Club, as was Harry Mizler. Now to the **other story about the choir fee** I don't know if you would want to embarrass any of the surviving relatives of the main character of the story, but I'll tell you anyway. After a wedding, we were paid by the choirmaster, who will remain nameless!  He told us that Mr. Mizler had given each boy an extra one shilling and sixpence over our usual fee. Years later, I was at the annual Oxford and St Georges Old Boys' Dinner and at the bar stood one of my friends with a face that was familiar to me. My friend (Jack Grant) called me over, offered me a scotch and said "Do you know Harry Mizler?" Of course it was him. He had lost contact with the Club and had met someone who persuaded him to attend the function. He was then around 60 years of age. I introduced myself as one of the choirboys who had sung at his wedding and said that I welcomed the opportunity to personally to thank him for the extra one and six that he had so generously given us. "What one and six?", he replied, "I gave him (the choirmaster) an extra half a crown each for all of you!"   I thought at the time that I hope he needed it more than we did!

A Jack Solomons' Boxing Story:

Jack White writes again:  

I've just remembered a boxing story about the boxing promoter the late Jack Solomons (& employer of my Uncle Bob -   Phil). There was a young (I think 18) prospect from a village in Cambridgeshire who Jack Solomons brought down to fight Dave Crowley for the British Lightweight title.  His name was Eric 'Boy' Boon.  He stayed at Solomon's' house in Hackney.  He asked Solomons to take him to see the 'West End'.  Solomons was afraid to expose this young naive and impressionable village lad to the temptations of the 'West End' so he apparently took him on a bus ride through Hackney and when Boon saw the parade of shops in Mare Street he was told, "There you are, The West End!"  Incidentally Boon fought Jack (kid) Berg (real name Judah Bergman) and lost on a disqualification.  Boon eventually won the title.

Meanwhile,  I hope I have given you some ammunition to put Redman's Road on the map where it belongs! - Jack

Meanwhile, Rev J K Goldbloom's grandson Jeremy sent me the quotes below taken from Redman's Rd 1951 Golden Jubilee booklet.  Included are 4 letters written in Hebrew from 4 celebrated Jewish scholars and teachers commending the excellence of Redman's Road. The booklet is entitled: "Talmud Torah Ivrit Be-Ivrit - 1901 - 1951 Fifty Years of its (Redman's Road) Existence".  Redman's Road Talmud Torah closed around 1961.  Stepney Orthodox Synagogue is now incorporated with Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue  Ivrit is the name given to modern Hebrew.
"On the 2nd day of Succot 1901 a number of Jewish residents in Stepney met and formally decided to establish a Talmud Torah in the neighbourhood as the existing three Talmud Torahs were too far away. They approached the Rev. J.K. Goldbloom who was known at the time as a "cultural" Zionist to take the lead. He agreed on condition that he be allowed to draw up the syllabus. This being accepted, the first meeting, only a small gathering, was held on Sunday October 13th 1901 at the Old Stepney Orthodox Synagogue where a Committee was elected with Rev. Goldbloom as president. Two rooms in Hayfield's Passage were hired, about 70 pupils enrolled and two classes were opened the teachers being Mr. I. Yanishevsky (later known as Mr Jacobi in Israel) and Mr Ben Dov Cohen, a specialist for beginners in Ivrit b'Ibrit who left later for the U.S.A."

Letters of commendation written to Redman's Rd Talmud Torah from their 1951 Golden jubilee booklet

On the left are the 4 letters from celebrated Hebrew scholars and teachers written to Redman's Road.  (Click to enlarge and read)  For those whose Hebrew is not up to a translation this is what it says:

Dr.Y.S Fox,editor of "Hamagid" (The preacher)

"A spiritual pleasure was ours at the hearing of the pupils of the Talmud Torah in Stepney, studying by the method of "Ivris b'Ivris. Actually,our ears would not had believed, if we had  been told about this. Young boys from9-11, , speaking Ivris like regular adults, explaining the laws of the "Shulchan Aruch", explaining verses from the Torah and reciting chapters of the source of our people in simple Ivris, without any hesitations and seeing in their faces that they were enjoying Hebrew speaking which gave them pleasure and fun.And what's more,they consider it to be understood in natural speaking."

Isaac Suwalsky - Editor of "HaYehudi" (The Jew) Month of Adar, 5660.   (5660 is 1900 which doesn't tie in with the 1901 foundation date of the Talmud Torah - so maybe the school had been operating informally on the site before 1901, or maybe it was a typo in the original document).

"I visited the Talmud Torah [Redman's Road] and tested the pupils and I was happy to see that almost all the young people knew how to read and write. [in Ivrit].  The boys wrote in Ivrit, a story that we presented tp them and besides that, they understood what we told them in Ivrit and they knew to tell us in writing what we wanted to know. And concerning this, we are grateful to the leaders of the establishment and to those who are working to maintain it" 

Isaac Suwalsky - Zionist, editor of HaYehudi, pioneer of Ivrit as a living language - and my cousin's wife's grandfatherRabbi Isaac Suwalsky, whose photo is on the left, was my cousin's wife's grandfather and a renowned Zionist, Hebrew scholar and pioneer in the use of Hebrew as a spoken language.  In 1897 he founded a Hebrew newspaper entitled HaYehudi.  At his funeral at the age of 54 in 1913 his cortege - according to the Jewish Chronicle obituary - stretched the length of Brick Lane as his coffin made its way to Philpot Street Synagogue for a eulogies by assorted celebrated rabbis of the day, including one from Rev J K Goldbloom


Samuel Rafeli from Jerusalem (accompanying Mr. Suwalsky) From Brakai, The light of the East.

"I truly read the time of privilege of standing at the test of the Talmud Torah.In the midst of dark fog,and many shadows that covered the way of educating boys in the city of New Babylon, I saw a flash of  light and hope for the boys being educated in the correct method of Ivris b'Ivris and thanks are given to the principal of this establishment."

David Yellin

"What joy in my heart to see in this place, teachers and pupils sitting in their classrooms and their hearts given only to the nests of our people, scholars learning all that is important to us. The teachers are acting in faith, planting in the hearts of the boys, love and real obligation for our people, for the Torah for the language and for our land."

A Fieldgate Street Connection with Redman's Rd Talmud Torah - Grodzinski's Bakery
I am grateful to Jonathan Grodzinski for sending in the following letter about his family's connection with Redman's Rd Talmud Torah and Fieldgate Street in London E1.  Jonathan writes:
Phil Hyams died in 1997 aged 102.  His father Hyam Hyams was Vice President of Redmans Road Talmud Torah . He was originally Hyam (Chaim Elya) Grodzinski. He had a bakery at 20 Bedford Street (now called Cavell Street) whilst his brother in law /uncle Aaron (Harris) Grodzinski had a bakery in Fieldgate Street.
Jonathan was kind enough to send photos of his family's bakers shops from that period:
(Rest your mouse on the photos to read the captions then double click to enlarge)
Grodzinski's bakery is still flourishing and the early C20th photos above of their shops are reproduced from their carrier bags.  The plaque in the middle commemorating the 1888-1988 centenary of Grodzinski's bakery in Fieldgate Street can be seen today on the wall of Fieldgate Street Synagogue, 41 Fieldgate Street, London E1


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