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The JC Archive Blog No.13: Purim Toys and an Orange

Some topical notes from the ongoing series in which genealogist Rivka Goldblatt delves into the more interesting corners of the JC Archive

    When did you last go hungry? Eat at a soup kitchen?

    There are homeless people in every city and poverty exists everywhere. This week, Jews all over the world celebrate Purim. We celebrate by sending gifts and giving charity – ensuring the poor are also happy on this joyous day.

    Jewish London of 1886 had many charitable institutions. Life was hard, harder than it is today. Here’s some of the kind deeds that were recorded by The Jewish Chronicle on the 26th March, 1886 – the week after Purim, 132 years ago.

    SOUP KITCHEN FOR JEWISH POOR.
    DONATIONS received since last Advertisement:… Mr. Solomon Blaiberg, 40, Upper Bedford Place, for extra distribution of bread on Purim - £2 ….

    I don’t think Mr. Blaiberg would have imagined that he would get a place in The Jewish Chronicle again, years later…

    JEWS DEAF AND DUMB HOME

    On Saturday evening last (the eve of Purim) Mr. and Mrs. Joseph de Castro, in the name of their grandchild, Miss Gladys Lavinia Abecasis, gave a treat to the children at the above Home… …the children had cakes, fruit, etc, at 9 o'clock witnessed an entertainment of dissolving views and an exhibition of marionettes.

    The children enjoyed themselves immensely, and laughed loudly at the comic scenes.

    I presume that today we’d say the children saw a slide show and a puppet show. But one thing I’m sure of – I wouldn’t like to be called Gladys Lavinia Abecasis. Would you?

    The deaf and dumb people had some more festivities the next night:

    On Sunday the inmates of the Home were treated to a sumptuous dinner provided for them by Mr. and Mrs. Montague Davis.

    What about orphans? This is a time when women still regularly died in childbirth, where to lose both parents from disease was not unusual.

    JEWISH HOSPITAL AND ORPHAN ASYLUM.
    Mr. A. Rosenfeld, of the firm of Lazarus and Rosenfeld, has again sent his usual gift of a large case of toys, sufficient for each child to receive a Purim present. Mr. C. Davis also sent a large supply of fruit, cakes, and sweets, and Messrs. Keeling and Hunt their annual gift of two cases of oranges.

    Oranges, a fairly exotic fruit at the time, were the gift of choice in other places too.

    JEWS INFANT SCHOOLS
    Sunday last was a "red letter" day for the children attending the Jews Infant Schools, who celebrated the festival of Purim in a joyous manner, through a bountiful distribution of toys, oranges, and cakes.

    So what are you giving to your poorer brethren this Purim? I don’t know if oranges will be appreciated – yet the thought certainly will be!

     

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