Jewish tailor in the East End © Jewish Museum

The story of London’s Jewish community

From cockneys to hipsters, London is packed with all sorts of groups. Neil Simpson finds out how the Jewish community have built a home away from home

Approximately 55,000 Jewish people live in Barnet. Why did one fifth of the Jewish population of England and Wales settle in this north London borough? We ask the Jewish Museum’s collections manager and curator, Kathrin Pieren.

 ‘Members of the Jewish community in Barnet originally settled along the Northern line in the 1920s – there was a lot of housing development along the railway line, with people migrating from the East End as they became better off.

Jewish Museum London © Benedict Johnson Photography

‘The biggest movement away from the East End was probably after World War II. The area
was bombarded because of the port and the concentration of industry there. As more people settled, synagogues and Jewish schools made the borough attractive for Jewish people.

‘I like the story of the King of Lampedusa: it’s a Yiddish play based on the true story of Sydney Cohen, a Jewish tailor from Clapton [east London] who became an RAF flight sergeant. His forced landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa caused the Italian garrison to surrender, earning Sydney the nickname ‘King of Lampedusa’. The play was staged at east London’s Grand Palais Theatre in 1943 and we have a poster of it in our museum.’

Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House
129-131 Albert Street, NW1 7NB
020 7284 7384 |


Click here to read about how the Bangladeshi community settled in London 

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