Do you think we're in such declining numbers we can hardly be a real cohesive community any more?
Is this the end for the Jews of the East End
I often visit Brick Lane, where all trace of Jewish presence is virtually erased now. That seems sad somehow, perhaps because Brick Lane was probably the closest thing Britain ever had to a shtetl - and I think most of us have a bit of a hankering to have lived in the shtetls (after all, it does look rather charming in Fiddler On The Roof!)
When we read historical accounts of what life was like in the area in the early 20th Century, however, it becomes apparent that in many ways it wasn't charming at all - the area was stricken by extreme poverty that even the most misfortunate Bangladeshi immigrants living on Brick Lane thankfully don't have to tolerate today. Houses were often tiny and overcrowded and it was little more than a slum. Loss of local community is always sad, but we always moved onwards and upwards - from the East End to North-West London, from the shtetl to New York, from pogroms and antisemitism all around the world to Israel. But community is not necessarily a localised, physical thing and all Jews feel part of something greater, a worldwide Jewish community. Perhaps the Internet is going to be the physical aspect of that community? It's just a shame that we can't have our friendly kosher shops and bakers online - it'd be so convenient if I could log onto www.kosherbaker.co.uk and moments later have a freshly baked challah emerging from my printer.