The Board of Deputies of British Jews launched Hidden Treasures, a website featuring centuries of documents, photographs, and other archived materials illustrating the history of the Jewish British community. The launch took place during an online event on 26 July, which featured numerous speakers, including Chief Executive at the Board of Deputies, Gillian Merron.
Board of Deputies President and WJC Vice President Marie van der Zyl said that the initiative would be important “for anybody interested in the history of our community….[T]he public will be encouraged to discover and learn much more about the story of Jews in the UK.”
Among the featured items are a 1930s photograph of shop workers sitting in a solarium, and a doodle in the margins of a thirteenth-century document about criminal cases. The historic images come from several prominent institutions, including the National Archives at Kew, Merseyside Jewish Community Archive, Hull History Centre, Imperial War Museum, Jewish History Association of South Wales, Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, The Wiener Holocaust Library, and Sephardi Voices UK.
Hidden Treasures will also include contemporary records of the Jewish communities’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Records thus far include a prayer for the recovery of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a leaflet in English and Yiddish explaining the social distancing restrictions. Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker said the initiative will be a “valuable resource” for future social historians and appealed to the greater Jewish community to help compile relevant material.
“If you work for an institution, organization or community group with an archive that relates to the history of Jews in Britain, do get in touch,” said Dawn Waterman, who developed the project. “We’d love to feature you in Hidden Treasures and if you are an organization within the Jewish community with records you think might be of interest more widely, talk to us and we can advise.”
You can explore the Hidden Treasures project here.