by Jason Lever
Posted on Thu, 14 Nov 2013 12:14:19 GMT
‘Take one Jew and immediately you have an opposition party’ (ref: Kops).
This quotation is through the lens of one of the Jewish East End’s foremost, second generation writers, Bernard Kops. It is a pithy observation of its population’s political temperament, at the “ballot box” and on the streets, in the closing decades of the nineteenth and through to the first quarter of the twentieth centuries.
Describing the Jewish East End, a recent correspondent to The Cable magazine set out that although ‘in the main a land of impecunious people, it was rich in culture, rife with activity and pervasive of deep friendship and mutual aid’ (ref: Tarmon).
These aspects of ‘mutual aid’ and ‘rife with activity’ resonate well with the ‘Bread’, ‘Brotherhood’ and 'Ballot Box’ themes of the life of this author’s great-uncle, Solomon Lever.
As well, the importance of ‘culture’ to first and second generation Jewish immigrants harked back to the “Yiddishism” of their homelands. As the ties of religion became more relaxed, it supported, too, a more secular and intellectual advancement of mind – as individuals – and economic and social progression – as a political movement and community.
The latter qualities are what mostly concern us here as we consider the life trajectory of a Jewish immigrant to the East End of London in occupational (‘Bread’), mutual support (‘Brotherhood’) and political (‘Ballot Box’) terms – and his contribution to Jewish and non-Jewish East End life.
How typical was Solomon Lever, with his high achieving communal and political leadership roles?
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