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Pickle trailer 🥯 pickletheplay is part of our four-week Come What May festival of performance - opening NEXT WEEK 🎉

Here’s the shtick: Ari is caught between two worlds. Still living at home in North-West London, she has her Jewish life, dominated by overbearing parents, traditions, and expectations. Then there’s her day-to-day life - the job, the pub, the foreskins...

Pickle is a darkly comic uproarious simcha of a one-woman show about being Jewish and secular in the UK today. Expect smoked salmon, guilt and a large dose of self-deprecation.

Playing 2-7 May.

🎟️ Save when you book for multiple shows in the festival! 🎟️

1 show: £15.00 per ticket
2 shows: £13.50 per ticket (10% off)
3 shows: £12.75 per ticket (15% off)
4 shows: £12 per ticket (20% off)
5+ shows: £11.25 per ticket (25% off)


#comewhatmay #theatrefestival #theatrefestivals #vaultfestival #springfestival #festival #parktheatre #parktheatrelondon #jewishtheatre #jewishlondon #jewishlife #londonlife #finsburypark #finsburyparklondon #theatrelife #theatrenews #theatrekid #ilovetheatre #theatrelover #theatretickets #theatreticketslondon #offwestend #offwestendtheatre #uktheatre #whatsonlondon

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The Brady Street Jewish cemetery at Whitechapel opened in 1761 on what was previously a brickfield. Burials ended in 1857 and it is now largely forgotten, hidden from the outside world. #london #londonbylondoners #londonhistory #historyoflondon #bradystreetcemetery #jewishcemetery #jewishhistory #jewishlondon #jewish #whitechapel #linkinbio ...

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I don’t often do takeaways as you know. But when you’re slightly missing a bit of #jewishlondon salt beef bagel and the lovely man at originpizza comes up with what is basically a Reuben on pizza. This is total food love. Oy that a pizza ever tasted so gut.
#pizza #pastrami #saltbeef #dillpickles #mustard #fusionfood #foodporn

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In my most recent post about Jewish life in the East End of London in the 1930s, I discussed the Battle of Cable Street—when members of the British Union of Fascists organized a march through London’s Jewish neighborhoods, but were greatly outnumbered by protestors, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who forced the fascists to turn around, despite police attempting to clear the way for the march. By marching through the center of Jewish life in London, the fascists sought to intimidate the Jews of London.

On Sunday, a group of white men carrying giant American flags and signs that read “kneel for the cross” marched outside my state representative’s house, where he was inside with his three young children. The men identified themselves as “Christian veterans.” My state rep is a veteran, but he is also one of two Jewish members of the Ohio House of Representatives. When asked, they had no specific policies they wanted to discuss. By identifying themselves as Christians, then targeting a Jewish state rep at his home and attempting to take photos of his family through the windows, they made their intentions clear: this was an act of antisemitism intended to intimidate.

The parallels between the two events are striking. And terrifying.

I discussed Sunday’s events in more detail on my story yesterday. Today, I want to delve back into Ruthie’s story.

Before the planned fascist march through London’s Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues warned their congregants to stay home. But they didn’t. And that’s due to the organizing of trade unions and Jewish organizations, including the Worker’s Circle (Arbiter ring, in Yiddish). Ruthie’s parents are both members of the London Worker’s Circle, which was established in 1909 as a mutual aid organization for London's Jewish community. Along with over 2700 other members, her parents pay a weekly fee that then provides sick benefits and aid to unemployed workers, as well as funding cultural programming, including lectures and classes. The Worker’s Circle’s activities are centered in a bustling building in the East End of London called Circle House.

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The Jewish holiday of Tu b’Shevat begins tonight at sundown. The holiday is known as the new year for the trees, and we celebrate by planting trees and eating fruit and nuts. It is a time of new growth and renewal; a time to consider what we can do to care for the Earth for the generations that come after us.

When I started my photo series about Ruthie living in the East End of London in the 1930s, I always knew that I would end the series by talking about the antisemitism Jews faced in 1930s London and how antisemitism continues today. But I wasn’t expecting to make this post today. All antisemitic acts are abhorrent, but the events that occurred yesterday in Texas were heartwrenching.

Although the Battle of Cable Street, which I discussed in my last post with Ruthie, happened 86 years ago in the UK, it’s impossible to overlook similarities with the political climate today in the United States. In the US, Jews are the target of 58% of religious hate crimes, despite making up only 2% of the country’s population. Although the story that I shared for Ruthie is a fictional story, I can imagine the fear that she felt seeing fascists marching down the streets of her beloved neighborhood because I know the fear that accompanies being Jewish. I know the anxiety about whether or not my friends and family will be safe at synagogue, even in 2022, when you would think that there should be nothing to fear.

Despite all of that fear, we will still celebrate Tu b’Shevat, just like Ruthie would have in 1937. Ruthie is paging through her family’s recipes for date bars and date and nut loaf to make for the holiday while watching the snow fall softly outside. She’s thinking about the generations who came before her, and the generations who will come after her, perhaps baking the same recipes for Tu b’Shevat, deciphering the scribble of her grandparents’ pencil on the ragged scrap piece of paper. Because, our recipes and our shared cultural heritage will persist with us.

(Note: These recipes are actually from the 1950s, a couple of decades after Ruthie’s era, and they belonged to my grandfather, who was a baker.)

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It’s January 1937 and Ruthie and her parents just moved to Stamford Hill, London, just a few miles away from Whitechapel, where Ruthie used to live. (Read about Ruthie’s life in Whitechapel in my previous post.) But Stamford Hill is much fancier than Whitechapel—her parents and their friends call Stamford Hill “di hoykhe fenster” in Yiddish, which means “high windows.” Many of Ruthie’s Jewish friends and neighbors from Whitechapel have also moved to Stamford Hill, but Ruthie isn’t sure if this new part of London will ever feel like home the way that Whitechapel did. Ruthie’s parents grew up in Whitechapel and had never planned to leave. A few months earlier, that all changed.

On October 4, 1936, the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, planned to march through the East End of London. Although Ruthie had heard stories of the terrible violent riots called pogroms that targeted Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia, Ruthie never thought violence directed toward her community could happen in England.

Ruthie didn’t understand why the fascists seemed to hate her and her family so much, and why they were marching through her neighborhood, which was overwhelmingly Jewish. Ruthie’s mama explained that some people wanted to blame their poverty on the Jews. But Ruthie’s family and all of the other Jewish families in Whitechapel lived in poverty—how could they be to blame?

Ahead of the march, the rabbi of Ruthie’s shul (Yiddish for synagogue) warned all the congregants to stay home. But the Jews of the East End didn’t stay home. As about 3000 fascists marched through the streets of the East End with the protection of 7000 policemen, over 100,000 protestors, including Jews, trade unionists, and Irish railway workers, barricaded the streets. Police attempted to clear a route for the fascists, violently injuring protestors in the process, but the protestors were determined not to let the fascists pass. Ultimately, the fascists were forced to turn around and discontinue their march.

Despite the protestors’ victory, Ruthie’s parents decided it was time to leave Whitechapel.

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It’s the 1930s and Ruthie is living in the East End of London. Ruthie’s grandparents immigrated to Britain from Poland and settled in Whitechapel, which had become the center of London’s Jewish community in the 1880s. At home, Ruthie is called Rut or Ruteleh, her Yiddish name. (In Yiddish, -leh is often added at the end of names as a nickname/term of affection.) At school, she is called Ruthie. At the Jews’ Free School, Yiddish is banned and Ruthie’s teachers encourage her and her classmates not to speak Yiddish at home.

Ruthie knows she can’t do that. Her parents speak English fluently, but they both write in Yiddish for the daily Yiddish newspapers. Her parents spent most of their childhoods in the East End, and they’ve told Ruthie that the area is not the bustling center of Jewish life that it was when they were younger. More and more Jewish families left Whitechapel for other areas of London, or for America—die goldene medina (the golden country). Ruthie’s parents, however, were determined to stay, and to preserve Yiddish, the language of their parents and grandparents.

Ruthie sometimes isn’t sure how to be both British and Jewish. She is proud that her parents are helping keep Yiddish alive, but she knows that all of the kids her age have stopped speaking Yiddish—to be seen as a true Briton, you have to speak English. But she is also proud to be British. She knows it’s safer for her to live in Whitechapel than it was for her grandparents living in Poland.

Ruthie walks along the Whitechapel high street (main street), weaving between people and lorries and trolleybuses. She passes Kosher restaurants and the bustling Kosher marketplace. For Ruthie, Whitechapel is home.

(Stay tuned for another post about the Jewish community living in the East End of London in the 1930s. In the meantime, I’m going to share a Patrons-only post on my Patreon with a behind-the-scenes look at my historical research/how I put this post together. To become a Patron, visit the link in my bio.)

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