This year, the Jewish Museum in London celebrated the first day of Hanukkah by relaunching its crisp and modern cafe serving kosher specialities, bagels, soups and cakes. Hanukkah is an eight-day and eight-night Jewish festival and this year it started on December 20th. The holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks nearly 2,200 years ago. Hanukkah starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, but in the secular calendar, the date varies and it falls between late November and late December.
Whether you refuel in the cafe before or after exploring the museum, be sure to give this moving place time so that you can absorb the depth of the content on display.
There are four very different sections:
As well as the cafe, the ground floor houses a thirteenth century ‘mikveh,’ a Jewish ritual bath found in the City of London in 2001.
The first floor goes on to explain the Jewish faith.
The second floor looks at the Jewish people in Britain and their wider plight in Europe. It devotes a large section to a Jew called Leon Greenman. Leon and his wife and son were deported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943. Else and Barney were murdered in the gas chambers, but Leon went on to survive six concentration camps (and medical experiments). He died in England in 2008, having devoted his life to anti-fascist campaigning and teaching children about the Holocaust. Heart-breaking exhibits include his son’s tiny little shoes, his haunting prison uniform and his wife’s beautiful wedding dress. British nationality papers that would have saved the family from deportation arrived minutes too late.
The third and final floor is dedicated to Jewish performers, singers and comedians.
This unique museum in Camden opened in March 2010, but there were two museums originally, the first one opening in Bloomsbury in1932, the second one opening in the East End in 1983. The Jewish Museum is one of twenty-nine museums in London to have Designated Status, meaning its collections are of international importance.
As you walk around, knowledgeable and friendly guides engage with you about the exhibits or different facets of Jewish life and faith. The museum also puts on plays, musicals, film screenings, readings, lectures, panel discussions, runs artist and actor profiles and holds creative workshops in script, photography and film. There are walks around significant parts of London and visits to key places of interest.
We loved this museum – it’s educative and interesting and there’s a sense of community, past and present.
The Jewish Museum London: 129-131 Albert Street London NW1 7NB Tel 00 44 20 7284 7384. Camden tube.
Open Monday-Sunday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-2pm. Closed 24-26 December and 1 January. Open Bank Holidays, closed for Jewish festivals - check the site for details.
Admission Charge £7.50/ £6.50 concessions, Children (5-16 years) £3.50, Under 5s free, Family ticket, (2 adults, upto 4 children) £18.
The Jewish Museum is listed in our City Guide App London thru Cafes which includes over 100 London coffee houses and cafes, 350+ great places to visit and has regular updates. Much more than just a list of cafes and places to visit, there are reviews, photos, area guides, a London survival guide, offline maps and lots of fantastic photos. The App also works offline so you can use it when you´re out and about and avoid roaming charges.
Written by London thru Cafes: the Coffee App and City Guide for London.