By Leon A Smith
August 23, 2012
I mentioned some time ago that I thought myself to be one of a very small and elite group of people who were both Jewish and supporters of Bristol Rovers. A recent visit to Barnet Football Club indicated to me the ratio of Jewish supporters/followers of that club were probably significantly higher. The reason that I concluded this was twofold. Firstly the fish and chip shop adjacent to the football ground proudly proclaims that it fries its fish in matza meal and secondly the Jewish News considered it was worth their while to invest in advertising behind the goal in the ground. All of this of course is clearly stating the obvious, given that Barnet Football Club is situated in the London Borough of Barnet which has the highest Jewish population in London.
Clapham, where Nightingale House is located, does not have the second highest Jewish population in London or, indeed, the third or the fourth – albeit the density of the Jewish population is heightened by the location of Nightingale House which accommodates nearly 200 older people..
A feeling which I have often covered in past Blogs is the perception in the minds of many North West Londoners that there is no such thing as “Jewish life” in South London. This viewpoint is always very galling to hear by those of us who are both resident in South London and, indeed, know only too well that “Jewish life” does exist South of the River. Jokes about “needing a passport” to travel across the River and to South London contain no element of humour and say more about the speaker’s parochialism than their knowledge of Jewish life in London.
The establishment of a Jewish Free School in South London to complement the excellent nursery which exists here is a further sign that Jewish life is prospering. There are numerous synagogues South of the River and, indeed, interestingly many of them even talk to each other regardless of their particular shades of Judaism.
Suffice to say, even though the South London Jewish community covers a vast area, there is very much a feeling of community albeit the distance between communities is significant. Nightingale House itself acts very much as a hub for the South London community through the involvement of residents, relatives, volunteers and others.
These communities may not be growing in the same way that Borehamwood or Bushey are but suffice to say, Jewish life exists. It is vibrant and active.
Following the recent merger between Nightingale House and Hammerson House, our Charity is no longer a “South London charity”. It is a charity which exists to provide care to older members of the Jewish community and has two sites – one in North West London and one in South West London. Both homes welcome incoming residents from anywhere in London and the South East and/or indeed anywhere else in the country.
By the way, if you have not visited either of our homes and would like to do so please make contact with us to arrange a visit. You will I know be very pleasantly surprised.
In the meantime I can do no more than hope that the psychological block experienced by some in North West London will over a period of time reduce and disappear. I suspect however that that day will only come when travelling time from North West to South West becomes as short as the travelling time from South West to North West!