Chapter 4 - A Jewish East End education for Solomon

by Jason Lever

Posted on Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:02:57 GMT

A JFS boy

Most Jewish children had to be accommodated in schools run by the local school boards or by Christian denominations, often in a hostile climate (ref: Brook; Osborne). Yet, Solomon was among approximately 6,000 Jewish pupils educated in six Jewish schools, in his case the Jews’ Free School (JFS). This was before JFS followed its Jewish families out of the East End to north-west London, first to Camden and later to Kingsbury.

Solomon’s schooling probably ended at 14, though with English not the main language at home, he may have taken advantage of the Russo-Jewish Committee’s free adult classes in English. These were described by the Daily Chronicle in 1908 as ‘ghetto evening schools, the schools where the adult Russian and German Jews… clutch at their last hope of knowledge’ (ref: Black G).

What is certain is that he was essentially self-taught through his teens and twenties while he took up the family trade of cabinet-making. This probably included the “University of the Ghetto”, as the reading room of the Whitechapel Public Library and Free Art Gallery (1892) was known, because of the way Jewish working people spent time there educating themselves.

The Library even employed Yiddish speaking assistants in the early 1900s (ref: Nurse), though during the decade before its closure in 2005, its shelves ‘groaned with titles in Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati and Somali’ (ref: Hall), displacing the preponderance of the Yiddish volumes of Solomon’s time.

JFS Cabinet-Making

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Chapter 1 - Introducing Solomon Lever and his l...Chapter 2 - The Jewish East EndChapter 3 - A family history of Solomon LeverChapter 4 - A Jewish East End education for Sol...Chapter 5 - Joining East End cultural and commu...Chapter 6 - Solomon as a cabinet makerChapter 7 – From cabinet maker to trade union g...Chapter 8 – Rise of the London Jewish Bakers UnionChapter 9 – Dealing with the challenges of a de...Chapter 10 – Solomon’s journey to Jewish trade ...Chapter 11 – Interlude of anarchism’s appeal to...Chapter 12 – Solomon Lever finds his home in th...Chapter 13 – The Liberal and Conservative partiesChapter 14 – The Labour Party consolidates its ...Chapter 15 – The appeal of East End councils’ s...Chapter 16 – The rise and fall of communist sup...Chapter 17 – Surging Labourism after the warChapter 18 – The Labour Party’s support for Zio...Chapter 19 – Short-lived Labour-Zionist honeymoonChapter 20 – Solomon Lever’s 1947 broadcast spe...Chapter 21 – Solomon Lever’s 1948 speech from t...Chapter 22 – Solomon Lever’s 1954 speech from t...Chapter 23 – Solomon Lever’s final TUC speech i...Chapter 24 – His Worshipful The Mayor and Mayor...Chapter 25 – Family connections in the Mayor’s ...Chapter 26 – Important social issues raised wit...Chapter 27 – The adbuction of Solomon LeverChapter 28 – Discovery of Solomon’s bodyChapter 29 – InquestChapter 30 – The death of Solomon LeverChapter 31 – Solomon’s funeral and obituaryChapter 32 – The death knell of the London Jewi...Chapter 33 – An appraisalChapter 34 – Bibliography