The passing of the Jewish East End
Little remains of the Jewish East End today. Such a concentration of poor Jewish immigrants was the consequence of particular circumstances and would not be repeated.
|The former Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor. © NMM|
|The Feldgate Street Synagogue. © NMM|
As many immigrants dragged themselves out of poverty, and as a new British-born generation grew up, the community changed. Many moved to other parts of London, where they created smaller Jewish communities that thrive to this day. Others left to pursue lives elsewhere.
|The Great London Mosque on Brick Lane. © NMM|
Much of Whitechapel is now occupied by Bengalis, who came from what is now Bangladesh.
Like their Jewish and Hugenot predecessors, they are involved in the clothing trades.
The former Hugenot chapel on Fournier Street, which later became the Spitalfields Great Synagogue, is now a mosque serving the local community.
Brick Lane now attracts a trendy clientele from all over London, and is being marketed as Bangla Town.
|The former Katz shop in Brick Lane. © NMM|
A return to hysteria
Despite the hype, similarities with past immigrant groups are still very real. The Bengali community faces hostility and ignorance and suffers great deprivation.
|Brick Lane. © NMM|
Present-day Britain risks a return to the hysteria about 'hordes' of foreign immigrants. This time, the 'hordes' are asylum seekers and potential economic migrants from the new countries of the European Union. In the light of such attitudes, it is worth recalling the great immigrant communities of the past, and just how much they contributed to British life.