Brighton’s Jewish community to mark 250-year presence

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Brighton’s Jewish community to mark 250-year presence

A blue plaque will be unveiled at the site of the home of the first Jew in the seaside town from 1766

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Brighton's Middle Street Synagogue
Brighton's Middle Street Synagogue

A blue plaque marking the home of Brighton’s first recorded Jewish resident is being unveiled by local leaders tomorrow as part of the seaside town’s celebration of its 250-year old Jewish presence.

The Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex will preside over the ceremony, placing the heritage sign on 22 East Street, the former home of Israel Samuel, who settled in 1766 and who was also known as Ensele/Ensli ben Samuel Cohen Brighthelmstone.

“He conducted a typical eclectic variety of trades, variously listed as a ‘toyman, silversmith, and lodging house keeper, such as were necessary for a Jew to make a living in the provinces,” says historian Marcus Roberts.

With the town’s fortunes on the up, thanks to the new fashion of sea-bathing and a Royal seal of approval by King George IV, more Jews followed, and by the late 18th century, plans were being made for a synagogue in the aptly-named Jew Street.

The plaque will form the centrepiece of six months of celebrations, which have seen concerts by the London Jewish Male Voice Choir, as well as guided tours, art exhibitions, workshops and open days at Middle Street Synagogue, famed for its stunning interior.

Warren Morgan, leader of the council, said Brighton and Hove was now home to an estimated 3,000 Jewish residents, but that accurate figures were hard to come by, because many Jews do not affiliate to a synagogue or community organisation.

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