Taste of the old Jewish East End returns to Aldgate in June at the Aldgate Square Festival


On Saturday 16th June 2018 at the Aldgate Festival, a taste of the old Jewish East end will be returning to Aldgate for the opening of the new Aldgate Square with Jewish food and music on offer.

It’s going to be a celebration of rich history of this area where the City meets the East End. Local Councillor Jason Pritchard was keen that the opening of the new square should in particular honour its Jewish past and so he suggested to the organisers that they book local Jewish band, Klezmer Klub. “I first saw Klezmer Klub play a few years back at a birthday party in Bethnal Green” he said, “and I really fell in love with their music, particularly as they sang about those parts of the East End where I’m from. At the end of the evening I even went home with their CD!  So when we were looking for a Klezmer band to accompany the launch of the new square I knew where to look.”

Klezmer is, at its heart, dance music, in particular wedding music, both wild and tender. Played by the Klezmorim as they tramped the roads of eastern Europe, it is a music that gets to your heart by way of your feet. Often described as bitter-sweet, it came out of poverty and oppression. Both dances and song contain joy, exhilaration and wit alongside the sadness, anger and defiance.

Klezmer Klub sing in Yiddish, the language of the Jews in Eastern Europe. Vivi Lachs, Klezmer Klub’s lead singer, has collected her own unique repertoire of songs, which cover a wide variety of themes: love songs, political anthems and union songs, music hall comedy, songs from film and theatre, and songs about working class life in the old East End.  A great performer, Vivi animates them all with explanations, costume and character.

Whilst much of the Jewish community has long since moved on from Aldgate there are still many signs of the area’s Jewish past, if you know where to look. Within Aldgate ward, a short distance to the north of the gate, Jews had settled from 1181 and stayed until their expulsion in 1290 by King Edward I. The area became known as Old Jewry. Jews were welcomed back by Oliver Cromwell, and once again settled in the area, founding London’s oldest synagogue at Bevis Marks in 1698. On Creechurch Lane there is a blue plaque on the wall to mark the site of the first synagogue after the resettlement, 1657 – 1701.

Cllr Pritchard lives on the Middlesex Street Estate in the ward of Portsoken and describes how “many of the flats in the square and tower still have mezuzahs at the doors [these are small cases which contain pieces of scroll]. A mezuzah declares: The people who dwell here live Jewish lives. Even though the previous occupants have moved out these traditional pieces of parchment have often remained in the doorways on the estate. It’s this melting pot of history, where different cultures have left their mark, that makes our part of the City so fascinating. My own ancestors were French Huguenots who arrived as refugees in Spitalfields in the 1680s and my family has remained in the East End ever since.”

In addition to the Jewish music, Cllr Pritchard was keen to book a food stall where people could sample some of the types of foods that would have been sold locally when the area was the heart of the Jewish East End: “I approached my neighbour, Ivan, to ask if he knew of anyone who might want to run a Jewish food stall at the festival. That was when Ivan reminded me that Saturday is the Shabbat day, a day of rest, making it difficult to find someone to work that day.”

It was then that he came across Monty’s deli in Spitalfields Market. Monty’s make their own bagels, salt beef, pastrami and mustard and many more Jewish delicacies and are famed for their renowned Rueben Sandwich. Happily Monty’s agreed to run a stall at the festival.

“I am really happy that we will have this chance for people to hear traditional Jewish music and to taste a bit of Jewish food. I have already told our oldest Jewish resident centenarian Manny Blankett who is looking forward to coming along. I do hope that many local people will come along and enjoy the weekend. Alongside the Bangladeshi folk music and even a Latin Fiesta band and many more exciting activities, it looks like it is going to be a fantastic weekend.”

The Aldgate Square Festival will run from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th June 2018 in Aldgate Square just off Aldgate High Street. Klezmer Klub will perform on Saturday 16th June. Monty’s Deli will be serving Jewish-inspired dishes over the weekend. To find out more about the festival please visit the website www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/aldgatesquarefestival


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Paid Summer Work Experience Opportunity July/August 2018

Work Experience Facebook ExampleApplications for paid work experience at Penguin Random House in July & August are now open.

You’ll spend two weeks in one of Penguin Random House’s departments, such as Editorial, Marketing, Publicity or Sales. The applications will close 23rd May 2018 at 9am.

You can find out more and apply at https://www.penguinrandomhousecareers.co.uk/your-career/work-experience

Applicants must be over 18 when they begin their placement, have not done a placement with Penguin Random House in the last six months and have the right to work and train in the UK.


Reminder: Artizan St Library new opening times start today

This is just a reminder that following our successful campaign with local residents the new opening hours at Artizan Street Library start today.  Please do spread the word!DbI2z-8XcAI0wNu


Portsoken residents – Need help to get to the City-wide Residents’ meetings on Wednesday 9th May 2018?

Need help to get to the City-wide Residents’ meetings on Wednesday 9th May? The City of London has offered free transport to Portsoken residents. If you need help to get there please contact Sophie Caley by 4 May: sophie.caley@cityoflondon.gov.uk or call 020 7606 3030 (ask for Sophie Caley)


We won! City of London announces new hours at Artizan Street Library


After a well publicised local campaign, I am pleased to announce that the City of London has agreed to extend the hours at Artizan Street Community Library. This is fantastic news! In addition to extending the hours the City will also now be trialling a Saturday opening slot for six months.

From 14th May 2018 the new Library hours will be as follows:

Monday- 8am-7pm
Tuesday- 8am-5.30pm
Wednesday- 8am-5.30pm
Thursday- 8am-5.30pm
Friday- 8am-5.30pm
Saturday- 9am-1pm

This really is tremendous news for the local community and it will now mean that this wonderful resource is available for even more people to use on a daily basis. Please do spread the word and let people know about the new opening times to ensure as many people benefit from the new hours as possible. Once again this result demonstrates that when residents come together on local issues we can influence positive change in the community and get our voices heard.

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and to the parents who came to the Guildhall last month to hand-in the petition. We couldn’t have got this result without all of your support.

Well done everyone!

Best regards

Jason Pritchard

Middlesex Street Resident and Common Councilman for the ward of Portsoken

Feedback following our library petition hand-in at the Guildhall

Residents hand-in petition at the Guildhall with Head of Barbican & Community Library Services Carol Boswarthack and the Chair of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee Graham Packham

Report by Jason Pritchard CC

Good news! Earlier today I went with a small group of residents to hand in our Artizan Street library petition and to speak with the Head of Barbican & Community Library Services Carol Boswarthack and the Chair of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee Graham Packham at the Guildhall. The petition gathered 115 signatures from local people and sent a clear message that we want better hours to fit the community. I am pleased to say the meeting went very well.

Both Ms Boswarthack and Mr Packham CC have agreed with residents that the current hours at the library are simply not working for the local community and subject to the final feedback from the City of London Opening Hours survey are positively exploring options to:

a) open the library beyond 4pm on weekdays so that schoolchildren and working people can enjoy more time in the library

b) trial Saturday opening hours for local residents and families

It was clear today that the City has been listening to the message from local residents which is great news and although officially they cannot announce new hours until after their survey close date it was pretty clear there is going to be a change for the better.

Thank you to the 115 people who signed the Library petition and helped put this issue firmly on the agenda. This demonstrates that when residents come together on local issues we can influence positive change in the community and get our voices heard.

Please help keep the pressure on by sharing the Artizan Street Library survey below by email or on social media.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/artizanhours

The survey closing date is the 25th March so please do make sure you complete the survey and spread the word. The City of London have promised to publish their new library opening hours plans by the 1st April.

We will keep you updated on developments and hope to share more good news on this local campaign in the near future.

Best regards

Jason Pritchard

Middlesex Street Resident and Common Councilman for the ward of Portsoken


Can you join us to hand in our Artizan St Library petition?

We’ve reached a crucial point in our campaign – next week, we’re going to be delivering our petition to the Head of Barbican and Community Libraries and the Chairman of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee.

There’s a key decision deadline later this month, so now is the time to put the pressure on and make sure we get the right outcome. There are three ways you can help:

1. Share the petition one more time so we can get a final push on signatures before the hand-in:


2. VERY IMPORTANT: Complete the City of London Artizan St Library survey as soon as possible. It only take 5 minutes to complete:


3. If you can make it, come along for the group photo on Tuesday 13th March at 09:15am outside Artizan Street library. We want to get as many local people present for the photo before the petition is delivered later in the day at the Guildhall. The more of us that are there, the more impact we can have.

If you’re planning to come or have any questions, just email jason4portsoken@gmail.com