England’s lost Jews: discovering the Sephardi community

InformAll has participated in a project on ‘Discovering and documenting England’s lost Jews’, exploring the fascinating history of the Sephardi Jews who started settling in England in the 17th century. The project is led by Pascal Theatre Company and funded through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project featured interactive online resources, with a focus on the Novo Cemetery, in Mile End, in the East End of London, one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in England. Much of the work was articulated around educational workshops, interviews with Sephardi individuals, outreach to different community groups (including young people) and archival research. The project generated interest in, and develop awareness of, the little-known history of the Sephardi community, with its Spanish, Portuguese and more broadly Mediterranean heritage. Most Jews in the UK are of Ashkenazi origin, having immigrated from central and eastern Europe; Sephardis – who nowadays constitute only a small proportion of the overall Jewish community in England – are contrastingly the heirs of old traditions reflecting the mixed Muslim, Christian and Jewish environment of medieval Spain.

The project ran from December 2018 to February 2021. InformAll is helped with documentation, research and evaluation, and coordinated the production of an e-book, edited by Stéphane Goldstein.

Photo: Novo Cemetery, Mile End, London – © Pascal Theatre Company