Pop-up exhibition explores dual identity of British Jews

The interactive trailer will launch in London, before going to Manchester and other citites


'I Say British, You Say Jewish' touring exhibition (Photo: National Holocaust Centre and Museum)

A cutting-edge touring exhibition exploring what it means to be British and Jewish is opening on Sunday in London.

“I Say British, You Say Jewish” is the brainchild of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, created in partnership with academics from the University of Nottingham. Exhibits include loans from the Jewish Museum London.

Through interactive technology, the display examines the myths and the realities of being both Jewish and British and includes testimonies from young British Jews today.

Marc Cave, director of the National Holocaust Museum said: “This exhibition asks: ‘Why is it so difficult to understand that someone’s identity can happily contain diverse elements?’ Today’s Leftists and Islamists make the same old accusations as the Far Right with their paranoid money, blood and loyalty libels against Jews. This exhibition gleefully defies them.”

Visitors will discover Jewish elements of popular British culture in food, music and football. The display will also expose anti-Jewish prejudices and show how everyday objects, including good luck charms and walking sticks, have normalised antisemitism. 

"The exhibition is an invitation to think again about unconscious bias. A few objects on display seem harmless enough — until you lift up a flap to discover the particular ingrained anti-Jewish assumption each derives from,” said Cave.

The display will give visitors a taste of the discrimination and exclusion experienced by Jews in the 1930s as they go back in time to a digitally-created living room of a Holocaust survivor and hear original testimonies from that time.

Commenting on the decision to hold the exhibition over Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, the theme of which is The Fragility of Freedom, Cave said: “It is of concern that some people are so ready to erase British Jewish freedoms because of the Hamas-Israel war 3,000 mile away.

"As social activists, we do not simply wish to highlight the problem. We wish to be part of the solution, unpicking and disrupting the ancient prejudices at play.”

Professor Maiken Umbach, the National Holocaust Museum’s chief academic advisor and innovation officer, and professor of modern history at Nottingham University, said: “I Say British, You Say Jewish takes a searching look at who we think we are. The luminous mobile exhibition pavilion invites members of all our communities to engage in conversation and exploration. It will surprise you, amuse you, empower you — and it will make you think again.”

Venue partners include Camden Council, the Jewish Museum of Manchester and the Outwood Grange Academies Trust.

The exhibition will be outside Hampstead Theatre in Swiss Cottage, north-west London, from 14 to 19 January. Opening times: weekdays: 1pm-7pm and Sundays: 11am-4pm. It will then move to other cities, including Manchester and Wakefield

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