Historic lives on display in Oxford

By Alison Ryde , October 28, 2013
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Alex Watson, Hannah Brosh and Isaac Salle display their "Medieval hats"

Alex Watson, Hannah Brosh and Isaac Salle display their "Medieval hats"

A permanent exhibition illustrating the history of the Jews of Medieval Oxford has opened in the city’s museum.

The project is the culmination of several years’ work between the Oxford Jewish Congregation, which established the Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee in 2006, and the Museum of Oxford — housed in the Oxford Town Hall.

The exhibits illustrate the site-specific history of the thriving medieval Jewish quarter, which was located in the area around the present town hall.

Dr Evie Kemp, convenor of the OJHC said: “Our vision is to make the Jewish history of Oxford accessible in a fun and exciting manner to as wide an audience as possible, both for our generation and generations to come.”

Jews arrived in Oxford shortly after 1066 and lived in the city until Edward I expelled them from England in 1290. Oxford, because of the university, has preserved much of the historical evidence from this period. The present Town Hall occupies the site of five medieval Jewish houses.

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Cllr Dee Sinclair, made the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon with the OJC president, Jon Rowland.

At the opening, a lecture was given by historian Pam Manix who later led a guided walk around the surrounding area. OJH has recently launched an Oxford Jewish heritage self-guided walking tour.

For the community’s children, the cheder of over 60 youngsters and staff relocated to the Town Hall. Activities included the making of hats based on those worn by Jews of the day, playing a giant Medieval Jewish Oxfordopoly game using the street names and Jewish house owners of the day.

Last updated: 9:45am, October 28 2013