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Place, Space and Memory in the Old Jewish East End of London: an Archaeological Biography of Sandys Row Synagogue, Spitalfields and its Wider Context

Finneran, N and Lichtenstein, R and Welch, C (2018) Place, Space and Memory in the Old Jewish East End of London: an Archaeological Biography of Sandys Row Synagogue, Spitalfields and its Wider Context. International Journal of Historical Archaeology, (), 1-24. pp. 1-24. ISSN 1092-7697

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Abstract

Sandys Row (London E1) is the only functioning Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) Synagogue in Spitalfields and the oldest still functioning Ashkenazi synagogue in London. Located in an area, which from the mid­late nineteenth century until WWII was the centre of London’s Jewish population, it is one of the last surviving witnesses to a once vibrant and dynamic heritage that has now virtually disappeared. This area has been the first port of call for refugees for centuries, starting with French Protestant Huguenots in the eighteenth century, then Jews fleeing economic hardship and pogroms in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century followed by Bangladeshi Muslims in the twentieth century. Using a broadly archaeological analysis based very closely on the sort of practice widely used in church archaeology, the authors argue that much can be inferred about wider social and cultural patterns from a study of architectural space at Sandys Row and its associated material culture. This is the first such archaeological study undertaken of a synagogue in Britain and offers a new perspective on wider issues regarding the archaeological definition of religious practice and religious material culture.

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