I cross the boundary of St Ignatius

Comrades!  Apologies for my absence.  My excuse is that I found work, and now spend my days travelling between Whitechapel and the Broadwaters Farm in Tottenham.  They are very different parts of London, and yet, as I visit the libraries and histories of their streets and pavements, I find the two increasingly alike.  I concede however that the ghosts maybe different.

Part of my labour requires that I oversee the positive change being wrought upon the Shell Theatre, a curious structure situated in the Lordship Recreation Ground which formerly provided a venue for all types of humour and drama.  I speak to the older tenants of Lordship Lane and they wistfully recount the Saturday nights spent watching some comedy performed for all the families, acoustic from the stage of the Theatre.  We hope it will be accorded due restoration and a return to these happy circumstances…

the shell theatre

Wyrd, very wyrd.  During the break, I have taken many a trip down the back alleys.  Some of them in Tottenham can be quite scary, no jokes.  Back in Stepney, following Yiddish mutterings on the breeze, I happened upon what I take to be occultist graffiti, faded insignia of some crack-pot ceremony.  ATG passed through Whitechapel here at my behest, and now I find their logo on the High Road in Tottenham also.  Today I saw a black lady stood on a traffic island in the middle of Stamford Hill Broadway.  I wonder, why did she wear the Star of David around her neck?  And why did she sing a hymn of Israel?  I am currently tracing the origins of radical Judaism in London’s East End.  Thoughts turn to Rocker, Lieberman and No Borders.

In my research, I have uncovered a quaint historic joy which I shall recount.  I note that in publicising the Whitechapel Anarchists’ revised Spitalfields Fayre, on the 26th of July this year – two thousand and nine – we followed in the footsteps of Agudah Hasozialistim Chaverim – the first Hebrew Socialist Union – who, as Fishman notes, in hyping up their first public meeting, also distribute handbills along the Whitechapel and Commercial Roads.  However,we gave ours out on Sundays whereas the Jews chose Saturdays, the day for “spazieren (strolling) along the thoroughfares [when] the workers would be out in droves.” (Fishman, 2004, 114).  Here’s our poster…

Spitalfields Fair poster

… and I shall leave you with some images from the time, created by Morris Rosenfeld.  I hope to convey something of what the Jews in the ghettos of Whitechapel in the late 1880s were going through.

Lieder des Ghetto


A view of Zion


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