How much do you know about Norwich’s Jewish history?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 January 2019
Youngsters spent the day learning about the Jewish history of Norwich in one of the city’s most renowned religious buildings.
Pupils from Saxlingham Primary School visited the Hostry at Norwich Cathedral to see what life is like for Jewish people in the Fine City.
Jewish history in Norwich dates back as far as Medieval times, where many lived from 1087.
Emma Elliot, 38, a teacher at Saxlingham Primary, said: “It’s important for the children to be able to make the comparison between Christianity and Judaism and become aware of the different beliefs of Jewish people.”
She added: “Schools should learn about other religions as it’s the only way to avoid stereotyping. We are making a conscious effort to incorporate Judaism into our curriculum.”
Pupil Monty, eight, said: “My favourite part of today was eating the typical Jewish food and learning about how they celebrate their day of rest (Shabbat).”
Marsha Parker, the event organiser, who is Jewish, talked about the settled community of Jews in Norwich in the mid 12th century.
“Most of them lived near to the castle, as they were under royal protection,” she said.
“Before the area was reconstructed, there was a bronze plaque indicating that Haymarket was the Jewish Quarter, or ‘The Jewery’.”
One of the oldest standing houses in Norwich, Jurnet House, also known as The Music House, belonged to a Jewish family in the 13th century. The wealthiest Jewish man in England at the time, Isaac Jurnet, the King’s tax collector, lived in the house.
The size of the Jewish population in Norwich is now unclear as many do not practise the religion, but there are 60 members of the traditional Norwich Synagogue and 50 members of the liberal group.
When asked what Jewish life today was like, Mrs Parker said: “Jewish people are actually the same as everybody else. Some Jewish people choose to dress differently, such as growing the hair at the front of their face as there is a law in the Bible that states ‘you shall not destroy the side-growth of your beard’.”
What surprised the children was the list of Jewish people they already knew, such as Daniel Radcliffe, Drake, Mila Kunis, Nigella Lawson and the late Amy Winehouse.
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