About the Project
Writing School Leicester was delighted to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund award in April 2008 to support this fascinating project, partnering with Leicester’s small Jewish communities.
A lively round of press releases, news items on websites, posters, leaflets written and distributed, announcements in the two synagogues and at the weekly Shalom Club, and a welter of personal approaches quickly brought expressions of interest and support from Jewish people living in Leicester, and also from ex-Leicester residents scattered around the UK and other parts of the world.
Both Leicester synagogues were enthusiastic in their support and offered use of their facilities, including accommodation for running workshops, as did Abbeyfield House.
Memories were skillfully teased out of workshop participants by Miriam Halahmy, a London Jewish writer and poet, and by local Jewish writer Rosalind Adam. Writing them down proved hard for some contributors, especially those with failing sight, but there was a scribe on hand and oral recording available.
Contributors brought in cracked and dog-eared black-and-white photos that told stories from the distant past, and were helped to scan these by Glen Tillyard, who went off and worked wonders with them behind the scenes. The sheer fun and humour of many of the anecdotes seemed to call out for cartoons, so we found and commissioned local cartoonist Mickey Wright.
Leading The Project
Writer Rosalind Adam recruited and supported contributors and volunteers imbuing them with her own passion and drive. She is a lifelong member of Leicester’s Jewish community. Of Latvian descent with grandparents who came to the UK to escape the Pogroms of the 1900s, her own family story is typical of many of the tales that have been told within the project workshops.
In addition to 70 contributors of memories and pictures, the project was enriched by practical help, expertise, support and advice of many kinds from volunteers who gave their time freely and generously.
Making the most of the memories
The 88 page glossy book Jewish Voices, Memories of Leicester in the 1940s and 50s was planned and edited with a mixture of professional and volunteer input. This way of working ensured the integrity of the book so that when snippets were edited they remained true to their authors' intentions.
We commissioned an enthusiastic small team of Leicester designers at Think plus Ink. Through a series of meetings and animated discussion, we drew positively on the creative tension that existed between design and textual ideals. This productive interaction resulted in a striking book.
Photography and Image Restoration
Most of the photographs appearing in the book were provided by the Jewish community themselves with some additional photography by Glen Tillyard. As mentioned earlier, advanced internet technology and access to the latest O2uk BROADBAND had meant we were able to contact a great number of people all over the world who were willing to participate. In turn, this also meant that we had access to a good number of photographs, which many members of this community had kept over the years. But since many of these photos had survived being transported far from Leicester, not all of the original pictures were of a great quality. A few of these old images had become badly damaged and torn over the decades. Using a laptop computer and a flatbed scanner Glen was able to help the contributors to scan these old images. These pictures were later restored using modern techniques and specialist software. Below is a photograph of the AJEX group before and after restoration.
Website, Display & Book Distribution
This website will remain active for at least two years and will be updated on a regular basis. The website is designed to introduce the project, promote the book, keep visitors informed about the display and post up new memories on the bulletin board.
Visit or Host Our Display
If you would like to visit or host our display, or obtain complimentary copies of our illustrated book Jewish Voices, Memories of Leicester in the 1940s and 50s email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our bulletin board on this site and leave your comments, feedback, additional contributions and memories.
Find out more about the touring display.
There was fried fish which our mothers made and tomato soup that we heated up in a big old kettle.
One day at a WIZO rummage sale we sold Mrs Braham's camel coat by mistake. We sold it for five bob.
A mouth-watering memory: Barrels of shmaltz herrings and pickled cucumbers, chopped herring, smoked roe, smoked salmon, wursht, viennas, cheese cake, plava, apple strudel, kichels, challah, rye bread, rolls and, of course, beigels.