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Perceptive article that may have missed a significant aspect of Jewish life. Synagogue attendance may not be the most important indicator of Judaism. Indeed, as most Church congregations decline, surely this does not mean that fundamental ethical bases of Christianity disappear? So, many of us believe, this is also the case for our Jewish heritage.

What is this heritage? George Steiner once bemoaned what he felt was a failure amongst late 20th century Jews to carry forward what he believed was the great tradition of Jewish thinking. An Israeli challenged him by saying "but we have built a nation," to which Steiner replied "you have made my point exactly."

In Sheffield, perhaps the Tribune could have spoken to people like David Hayes who brought the Ann Frank Exhibition to the city in the 1980s. He was a critical leader who ensured that the musical tradition that has flowered into the popularity of klezmer music throughout the UK began in the 1980s - in Sheffield! Those performing were not necessarily synagogue attenders, nor Zionist supporters of Likud. But George Steiner would have recognised that they were attempting to build upon one of the fundamental roots of Judaism - music.

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Piece of nostalgia: just looked at some old photos and found one of the Sheffield Klezmer Band (11 Sheffielders of all ages) taken in 1987 just before the band toured in Leeds, Manchester York and, of course, Sheffield. Then, nearly a quarter of a century later, here was this notice:

THE SHEFFIELD KLEZMER BAND

One night only at Sheffield University

May 18th, 2011: 7 – 9 pm

Perhaps the Jewish musical traditions are more robust than those pointed to by some synagogue attenders, occasional journalists (and Anti-Semites!!) like only eating kosher food, 'not marrying out' and Zionism?

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Ray Kohn is correct to mention the fact that secular Jews, although small in number, have contributed to major events. The first Anne Frank in World exhibition at Graves Art Gallery attracted its biggest attendance for any event there. But it was eventually fully supported by the Orthodox congregation. Ray has also played a major part in promoting klezmer music and for many years has organised the St Andrew’s Music Festival. Seven Hills Shul has also organised major public events and we have another one in January - a concert and exhibition www.shef.ref.co.Uk/events

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Perhaps one of the reasons that there are so few Jewish people in Sheffield may be that some aspects of Sheffield society appeared to be anti-Jewish. I remember Jewish friends of mine told me in the 1960s that Jews were not accepted as members at the Hallamshire Golf Club, situated in an area where several Jewish families lived. Indeed some of their houses backed on to the golf club. If that attitude prevailed elsewhere in Sheffield, it is nort surprising that Jewish folk left Sheffield around that time. It is not nice to feel unwelcome.

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A really interesting well-written article that has increased my understanding of Sheffield history and its differences from Leeds and Manchester.

Looking at that sketch of Silver Street Head made me think "Where's that then ?" and I was surprised to realise it's the steep lane past the Three Tuns I walk virtually every day on the way from Walkley to the centre !

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What an interesting article! It seems that community can be interpreted as either religious or ethnic, the latter obviously encompassing the former. It would be nice to think that secular Jews keep their traditions alive in some form, just as secular “Christians” observe Christmas, Easter etc., even if these have moved so far from their religious character. Of course, Christian festivals often have their basis in earlier/other celebrations such as Yuletide and the festival of Eostre (Easter). I’m interested to know the extent to which secular Jews celebrate religious traditions in a similar way, and whether this might be a way of strengthening the sense of community amongst all local Jews…

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I'm not entirely convinced by the suggestion that specialisation in small artisanal trades was not compatible with Sheffield's heavy industry. Sheffield industry was built on independent artisans, and they remained numerous well into the 20th century, with large steelworks only part of the picture. According to Sydney Pollard's A History of Labour in Sheffield (1959, Liverpool University Press) employment in the light trades exceeded the heavy trades throughout the 19th century, with the two roughly equal in 1911, and light about 62% of heavy in 1921 (perhaps because of the latter's wartime expansion), i.e. still very significant. Light trades still employed over 30,000 (including 773 wood turners) in 1931. Cutlers and other small scale metal trades had many equally small ancillary traders, making e.g. knife scales and handles in many materials, who diversified into other products, so plenty of opportunities for craftspeople. Even rough, tough Sheffield steelmen have to wear clothes, and there was no shortage of nearby village communities supporting both industrial occupations and the same agricultural work as exists everywhere outside the urban area.

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Very interesting map of sites of Jewish interest in Sheffield.Nevile Ballin must be a relative of Maurice Ballin who used to have a drapery business up Crookes and was a aquaintaince of me Dad.As for making a good suit -there was Les Black on Norfolk Row - Pete Black emigrated to Israel years ago and was a workmate.There was the tragic Laitner family and my old boss Mr RH Boyers.Never any anti semitism in Sheffield that I was aware of -such a crazy thing.

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Very interesting article, particularly the movement of populations. I’ve often pondered why Leeds, Manchester & Gateshead had well known Jewish communities & not Sheffield.

It may seem a little tenuous but my dad once had a chance conversation with a meat trader on Victoria Station (so pre 1970) who told him Sheffield consumed more Pork than Leeds & Manchester put together. I’ve often wondered if any cultural/commercial influences were at play (if the info is accurate!). The Beres pork sandwich shop empire suggest this might be a true?

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Fascinating piece thank you. No mention of numbers going to live in Israel whether traditional orthodox or reform. And I imagine a lot of folk with Jewish backgrounds here may not fit into any tradition

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