It is not the Jews that were lost but a British history which chose to lose them from the pages of the book of national identity. Our work is an attempt to reveal the importance of Jewish life in Britain and to place the Jew within the mainstream so that her story is not erased from history.
Dr Julia Pascal, July 2020
Welcome to Discovering & Documenting England’s Lost Jews, researching and celebrating Sephardi Jews in England. This project has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Sephardi Jews left Spain and Portugal to find refuge in the Ottoman Empire. They lived in the countries we now know as Iraq, Syria, Iran and Greece, as well as the former Yugoslavia, North Africa, Yemen and in India. Most of them absorbed the local culture and lived with a double heritage.
Part of the excitement of our journey of discovery has been learning about how these different waves of displacement influenced English life over the centuries and also today. This includes the experience of Jews who came from Arab countries, where many lived peacefully alongside Muslims. As well as examining the Cromwellian and post-Republican English history, the project has also looked at new immigrants – Jews arriving with elements of Arabic cultures in their histories.
Personal and family stories have been of great interest to us, as well as incorporating a wide range of research on the return of Jews to England and areas of Jewish life which had not previously been documented together.
We have been particularly interested in the Novo Cemetery in London and the Sephardi communities in England and Britain.