Jewish Year Book 1917, edited by Rev. Isidore Harris – and Jewish Friendly and Benefit Societies

9r JYB1917 Socs_0001This is the 1917 edition of the Jewish Year Book, which was published by the Jewish Chronicle and produced under difficult wartime conditions as a paperback with thinner paper.  However, it is absolutely packed with information – a printed snapshot of the Anglo-Jewish community in 1917.  I cannot scan it all, and so I have chosen two selections.  This is the first one.

For the second selection, pages for the Jewish community of Manchester, click here.

My great-grandmother’s brother, Solomon Geetleman, is buried in Edmonton Federation Cemetery.  His Matzevah (gravestone) has this curious inscription at the bottom: ‘ACHAI TOV – LONDON HEBREW TONTINE OSD GT BRITAIN LODGE 34’.  What does it mean?

9r JYB1917 Socs_0002Prior to 1918, the original Lloyd George National Insurance plan excluded ‘aliens’.  The Jewish immigrant worker relied on self-help organizations and formed Friendly Societies.  Depending on the rules of each society, they would make a small weekly contribution, and in return receive a payment when they had to sit shiva (and could not work) or to pay for a funeral.  Some were saving societies where they could eventually receive a payment when needed, others were effectively insurance policies against small emergencies.  It seems that my great-great uncle belonged to the ACHAI TOV, which met at 8 Great Alie Street, and his contributions there led to a payment towards his stone.

Eugene Black, in his book ” The Social Politics of Anglo-Jewry 1880-1920″ pages 195-200 has written about these Friendly Societies.  Raymond Kalman, in Jewish Historical Studies, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Volume 33, has written a more scholarly article about the London-based societies.

The 1917 Jewish Year Book lists not just a few – but hundreds of these societies.  These are based not just in London, but in Jewish communities throughout the United Kingdom.  As I could not find much original source material on the internet, I have scanned the entire list below:

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