Social justice, Jews and the refugee experience in Britain


Vivienne Jackson •  Jewish Council for Racial Equality • London

Race, asylum and immigration are visibly high on the UK political agenda. Europe is witnessing the greatest refugee crisis within its boundaries since the Second World War. Anti-immigration arguments are palpable in sections of the national press, and appear to have lain behind some of the votes for Brexit. As we try to make sense of so called ‘home-grown’ terror attacks, the experience of many Muslims in everyday life is of overt and subtle forms of discrimination and racism. In such circumstances, what do Jewish people have to contribute to debates about migration and racial discrimination, and is it distinctive? This talk will evaluate how Jewish voices have contributed to race and asylum debates in the UK. The talk will invite discussion about what, if anything, a future Jewish voice on race and asylum should sound like.

Dr Vivienne Jackson works for the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) which is 40 years old this year. JCORE has campaigned for racial equality and building bridges between different minority communities in the UK, as well as running practical projects to support asylum seekers and refugees. Vivienne is the project coordinator of JUMP (the JCORE Unaccompanied Minors Project), which pairs trained befrienders with young asylum-seekers and refugees here on their own. She has worked in NGOs and academia in the field of asylum, race and migration since 2002. She was youth outreach office for Student Action for Refugees (STAR), before completing a PhD about Filipino migrant workers in Israel at the University of Bristol.  She has contributed to research for the Children’s Society on various topics relating to child and young refugees, and worked for Right Track in Bristol, a charity aiming to support Black and ethnic minority children at risk of trouble with the law. This talk is part of the Journey to Justice travelling exhibition in Bristol. (see http://journeytojustice.org.uk/projects/bristol/ for more details)




Take an aging white Jewish baker, add a young black Muslim immigrant, and what do you have? The ingredients story in which bridges are built across religious, racial and generations. Nat (Jonathan Pryce), who runs a kosher London bakery is struggling and facing a hostile takeover bid from a cutthroat developer who wants to tear it down. When Nat’s apprentice quits, he reluctantly hires Ayyash (Jerome Holder), a Muslim immigrant from Africa. Ayyash supplements the family income by selling marijuana on the side, and when he makes an unplanned recipe alteration and mixes some into the baked goods, business booms. “Dough” is sweet, often funny and always nonthreatening, a movie for those who wish the intractable realities of the world would just disappear. (Neil Glenzinger, NY Times)


Jews and the Slave Trade

In 1991, the Nation of Islam first published the Secret Relationships between Jews and Blacks charging Jews with controlling the Atlantic Slave trade. The book has been furiously rebutted by academics but its assertions are still circulating unquestioned on a number of popular Black History sites. How significant is this? How is the Jewish role in slavery- especially in the British Caribbean variously perceived by Black Britons today and by British Jews? What is the present state of historiography relating to Jews and the Atlantic Slave Trade? And to what extent did the controversy so engendered challenge Jewish historiography? This paper begins to consider these questions in the light of Madge’s own experience both as an academic historian (who has published on both slavery and its legacy in Britain and on ethnic identity) and as a public historian who has worked closely with both museums and Black and Jewish community and history groups in Britain.

Madge Dresser is a Senior Research Fellow and recently retired Associate Professor in History at the University of the West of England, Bristol and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. The author of Slavery Obscured: the Social History of the Slave Trade in Bristol (London: Continuum, 2001, reprinted Redcliffe Press 2007) she has a long standing interest in the history of slavery, questions of national identity and the position of ethnic and religious minorities in British society.. In 2013 she co-authored and co-edited Slavery and the British Country House for Historic England and more recently has co-authored and edited Women and the City: Bristol 1373-2000. (Bristol: Redcliffe Press, 2016).


Set against the backdrop of the Korean War, a working-class Jewish student, Marcus (Logan Lerman), leaves Newark, New Jersey, to attend a small college in Ohio. There, he experiences a sexual awakening after meeting the elegant and wealthy Olivia (Sarah Gadon), and confronts the school’s dean (Tracy Letts) over the role of religion in academic life.

“Indignation,” the directing debut of the long time independent film producer and executive James Schamus, is a movie so insistently out of step with contemporary American cinema as to be considered practically defiant. Adapted from a novel by Philip Roth, “Indignation” is, like much of Roth’s late work, concerned with, or perhaps the better phrase is “consumed by” mortality and its inevitability. The novel’s measured prose carries a subtext of absolute rage at the arbitrary unfairness of fate. “Drawing superb performances from each and every one of his actors, Schamus meticulously makes every shot, and every gesture contained within that shot, count…..Schamus’ commitment to a style, and to the material, yields potent results.…It brings home all the indignation of Roth’s work, and adds some fresh fuel to that fire.” (Glenn Kenny www.rogerebert.com)

Polack’s House and the Jewish Community at Clifton College


Polack’s House at Clifton College, founded in 1878, was the first Jewish Boarding House in an English public school. The history of the Jewish Boarding House at Clifton is closely connected to one particular family – the Polack family who provided four housemasters, over three generations and 89 years. The House, particularly in the early years, was also closely connected with the Anglo-Jewish Community. It attracted boys (and later girls) from the principal Jewish communities in Great Britain. Clifton College is the only public school with its own synagogue, enabling Jewish students to maintain their Jewish identity while being a full participant in a public school

Jo Greenbury will explore the history and traditions of Clifton’s unique relationship with the Jewish Community in this country. Jo has been at Clifton since 1989, and was the last Housemaster of Polack’s House [1995-2005]. He continued to look after the Jewish pupils at the College until 2016, when Lauren took up the reins and Jo took the lead as Director of the Old Cliftonian Society.

Lauren Chiren has been a Clifton College parent for eight years and placed her son at Clifton because of its rich Jewish heritage. Lauren has recently been appointed to enrich the Jewish provision and work closely with the school and PHET (Polack’s House Educational Trust), to raise awareness of the School’s Jewish heritage more widely. Lauren will share with you Clifton’s current enrichment programme and demonstrate how they are sharing Jewish culture and beliefs within Clifton College and the wider community.

An evening of silent movies starring Max Davidson


The late 1920s was the heyday for film actor and comedian Max Davidson (1875 – 1950). Engaged at the famous Hal Roach Studios for a series of Jewish comedies which were set around his ‘beard’ character Max developed some of the greatest comedies of the era and yet Davidson is hardly remembered today. Standing out from the slick silent film stars of the time with his thick and shaggy hair, the 5’4” tall Max played the stereotypical Old World-Jewish comic, a personality he very much became to specialize in for the rest of his film career.

James Harrison from South West Silents (https://southwestsilents.com/) and DAVAR are proud to present a night celebrating the work of Max Davidson by screening three key films from Max’s time working for the great king of comedy Hal Roach. James will provide a brief background to the films before their screening. South West Silents aims to celebrate the history of cinema and share their passion for silent film with the wider cinema-going audience by producing eye opening silent film events not only in the South West of England but throughout the United Kingdom


Jewish Music out of the Shadows: Hidden Archives, Lost Worlds


The catastrophes of the twentieth century, most significantly the Shoah, led to the near destruction of the rich musical heritage of Eastern European and Russian Jews. Composers, performers and their art were either lost forever, or else became dispersed and fragmented, leaving only shadowy echoes of a lost world. Stephen Muir will talk about a large international research project, “Performing the Jewish Archive”, which aims to bring some of that music back out of the shadows. Recovered from dusty cellars in Helsinki, abandoned suitcases in Cape Town, and the archive of human testimony held in the memories of survivors and their families, music allows us to glimpse the riches of that lost world, at the same time reminding us that unless they are cherished and recorded with painstaking care and urgency, our archives risk being lost forever along with the world that produced them.

Stephen Muir studied at the University of Birmingham, and is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Leeds. He has published on subjects as diverse as Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas, Dvořák’s piano-vocal arrangements, and South African Jewish music. In 2014 he and other scholars were awarded one of the largest ever grants (£1.8 million) by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for “Performing the Jewish Archive” (ptja.leeds.ac.uk).


This event as part of a programme of events for Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day (2017) See their website for more details

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day Civic Commemoration

Annual remembrance day. Bristol Keynote speaker Barbara Winton: Nicholas Winton & the Czechoslovak Kindertransport: Turning compassion into action. In 1938 thousands fled from Hitler’s advancing army into central Czechoslovakia.  A 29 year old Londoner found himself in Prague witnessing the devastation and trauma they were suffering.  His decision to get involved saved the lives of 669 children and became one of the many examples of compassionate action that brought a chink of light in a dark time.  Barbara Winton will tell her father’s story and illuminate the motives that led to him taking action in the face of official reluctance. You will have the opportunity to buy a copy of Barbara Winton’s book on the day.

Atomic Falafel


Wednesday 25th January 2017 at 8.00pm
Israel, Germany, UK 2015, 93 mins, English, Hebrew, Farsi (sub-titles)
Director Dror Shaul featuring Mali Levi, Michelle Treves, Michelle Treves

With Iran threatening to attain nuclear power, anxious Israeli politicians and top brass gather in an underground bunker to debate a response and whether to consider a preemptive strike. Above ground in a dusty Negev town, a mother-daughter team runs a falafel truck catering to troops patrolling a nearby nuclear reactor. As the widowed mother (Mali Levi) falls for a uranium-allergic German nuclear inspector, her daughter (Michelle Treves) and computer whiz boyfriend (Idan Carmeli) stumble upon secret files that could prevent a nuclear conflagration. As the zany plotlines converge, the Israeli teens and an Iranian youth scramble to thwart war between their countries. “Dror Shaul’s Atomic Falafel is a funny, enjoyable and slightly subversive comedy about the conflict between Israel and a nuclear Iran. It plays like a kind of Israeli Dr. Strangelove meets War Games meets a sketch-comedy television show.” (Hannah Brown, Jerusalem Post)

A Gentle Introduction to Spinoza: His Life and Times

Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Sephardi/Portuguese origin who laid the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe.  Spinoza’s magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, in which he opposed Descartes’ mind–body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers. In this talk, Rabbi Mark Daniels will look at his “excommunication” from the Dutch Jewish community and discuss why he was so important in the history of Western thought.

Mark Daniels is currently Rabbi of Bristol Park Row Synagogue and course director of Judith Lady Montefiore College in London. He read philosophy at Warwick University and was Chairman of the Society for Jewish Study in London from 1999 to 2009.