Kehilat Middlesbrough Newsletter No 24 February 2008 page 5 (of 6)
There have been two Levayot here in the past month. [July 2007] – Ray Craster who died aged 101, was buried in Middlesbrough Jewish Cemetery, although she had been living in the Manchester Jewish Home, Heathlands.
Also last week was the funeral of Eve Goldstone in Stockton Jewish Cemetery. She was the aunt of Bernard and David Reubens (both living in M`bro); she was 97.
Bernard bumped into me last week and said how much he enjoyed the Rev Kersh tapes and told me to listen as soon as I got home—which I did. How marvellous to hear his special tunes, which are unforgettable. I have not heard from Melvyn for years and hope he is still well and living in Blackpool. I`d love him to hear his father`s tapes. Gwen Lamb Middlesbrough, England
Thanks, Donald. So strange to hear Rev. Kersh's voice again. I've started using some of his tunes in the shul here. I'm a gabbai and lead services pretty regularly. Michael Bharier Providence RI, USA
I am Shelia nee Richman's cousin.
Would you object to my sending your marvellous link to the British Jewry group? It's an amazing site and one of the genners might recognise those people you are querying. [Ed note: no objections at all] Angie Elfassi Israel
Great site!.....I'm very interested in my family history and Middlesbrough in general so this is invaluable.
My name is Ben Frais, son of Anthony and Helen and grandson of the late Marie and Eric Frais, once of Cambridge Road and part of the wider Craster family in Middlesbrough.
We left when I was 6 but this was enough for me to have become a Boro fan for life - and for reasons I do not yet fully understand!
I still get along to watch "the lads" when I can and have always wondered if any other Jewish supporters of the club still attend the Riverside? Ben Frais Leeds, England email@example.com
I must say that I am really enjoying this site... it's very comprehensive and fascinating. I'm an MPhil/PhD student at the IoE, London and I'm doing a bit of family research while I'm here in the UK. The problem I've run into is that my grandfather's history is rather mysterious and no one in my family has much information on him.
He apparently moved to Middlesbrough in the years before World War I and actually enlisted during the war. I know that his family had been in Australia for some time before the War. His name is Frederick (Fredrick?) Chapman, though his original family name was Nasser. I know they were Jewish, but I have not seen any Nassers on the site. Are you familiar with this surname? Any info would be very helpful. Laura Landon
I was recently in Ottawa Canada for a family simcha and on Shabbat went to the Beth Shalom West shul where I was given an aliya from what turned out to be a Sefer Torah from Middlesbrough. I e-mailed the shul to say thank you and to ask about the Middlesbrough connection. Jonathan Isserlin replied and informed me about your website. I have had a good read and noted with interest the ebb and flow of the Middlesbrough community. I live in Leeds and have an NE connection in that my mother's stepmother was a Lipman, originally from Hartlepool, and my wife, Judith, is from Sunderland, sadly both communities now bereft of shuls and minyonim. It is sad that the Sunderland Hebrew congregation like yourselves only exist as 'web communities'. I also have a friend whose father was from Middlesbrough and it intrigued him that I may have received a mitzvah from the same Sefer he could have been bar-mitzvah. (He is in his eighties called Reuben Grant (nee Goldstein) whose mother was a Wiseman!) (Mishpochah?) [Ed note: Indeed, yes] I have taken the liberty of adding an article I wrote about the demise of the Sunderland Kehila and its foreboding for the future of all Jewish communities, especially my own in Leeds. It was published in the United Hebrew Congregation (Leeds) Rosh Hashanah magazine in 2006 if you want to use it, you have my permission. Ian Freeman Leeds, England
A Lesson from History?
In the late spring of this year (2006), Judith & I attended the last services to be held in Ryhope Road Synagogue, Sunderland. The shul closed as through “emigration” to Manchester, Leeds, London and Israel and many other towns and cities, the community had eroded to a few families. 25 years ago Sunderland had been a thriving community able to sustain 2 shuls, a Yeshiva and Kolel, a home for aged Jews, a Menorah school for under 10’s and a Kosher Co-operative shop. Many of the UK’s current “crop” of Rabbonim and Dyanim studied in the Sunderland Yeshiva. Now it has fewer than eight regulars for a 'non-minyan' on Shabbat.
On that last Shabbas the air was filled with sadness and the regulars had their numbers bolstered by 'returnees' who had left for pastures new. A full Shabbat programme of services were held for the first time in many years and those present were visibly moved by the experience. Ryhope Road Synagogue was Judith's “home” shul, we were married there some 20 odd years ago.
The artefacts from the shul have been spread far and wide with shuls and schools, Bnai Akiva and other establishments benefiting. Judith & I were fortunate in securing 2 beautiful carved wooden Sedra boards for the UHC (Shadwell Lane Synagogue). The Sedra boards are currently being refurbished and will be sited in the ladies galleries (hopefully in time for the Yomim) where they will be used and admired for years to come.
So what is the lesson from history?
It took only 25 years for Sunderland's Orthodox community to dwindle to a few stalwarts. In fact the Sunderland Jewish Community website has far more members than have lived in Sunderland for the last ten years! Leeds does admittedly start with greater numbers than Sunderland but this alone will not make our community immune from shrinking away to nothing, it merely means that it may take us longer to vanish. Leeds is already shrinking. I am under fifty years old (just)! and have lived in Leeds my entire life. I remember as a child and teenager at least 4 delis selling kosher food, 3 kosher bakers, at least 6 kosher butchers shops, at least 4 more shuls than we have now, the Jewish Hospital, the Kosher Kitchen, the Jewish Institute (Jubilee Hall), the Social Centre, the Judean Club, the cheyders. Now we have 1 deli, 1 butcher/deli, 1 baker, fewer shuls and no hospital, no Kosher Kitchen, and under 8000 Jews from a height of over 13000.
Just imagine closing your city's last shul.
I appreciate that the MAZ (Marjorie and Arnold Ziff) Community Centre and the Zone have taken on some of the functions of the Institute and the Judean Club but they are not comparable in their activities with those former bastions of Jewish life in Leeds. As an example, if you were to ask many of my parents generation in the MAZC Centre on a lunchtime, where they met their wives, more than 60% would answer at the Jubilee Hall regular dances. Likewise, my generation married boys and girls they met at the Social Centre dances.
If the Jewish organisations in Leeds, the Shuls, the Community Centre (MAZCC), the educational establishments, do not receive the continued and in many respects improved support from the whole community then it will not be long before the Sedra boards kindly donated by the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation will be looking for a third home. Please support the Jewish organisations of Leeds before, like Sunderland and many other communities the length and breadth of the country, there are none left to support and we only exist as a website!