This 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?
Prior 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: