On the evening of March 12th, about 35 members of Altrincham Interfaith Group gathered in Rabbi Amir Ellituv’s house adjoining the Sha’are Hayim Sephardi synagogue, still under construction, to hear local historian and writer Basil Jeuda talk about his book “World War 1 and the Manchester Sephardim.” After a welcome by Rabbi Emir (see photo) Basil (see photo) introduced us to the history of the Manchester Sephardi Jews who are of Spanish and Portuguese origin and who settled in the middle east prior to coming to the UK where they form a small minority of the Jewish population. Many became British citizens and enlisted at the beginning of the war, several being killed at the Battle of the Somme, for instance; notable among these was Joshua Cansino (photo) who died saving an officer. The photo of the battlefield shows members of the Red Cross looking for personal effects so as to be able to inform the families. The most famous name was that of Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha (photo) who, after the war, introduced the Belisha Beacon, though he was sacked from his position as Minister of Transport for being Jewish. Basil then went on talk about the restrictions placed on the Manchester Sephardim, especially those who were not British citizens and who came from Turkey, Baghdad and Aleppo. Some were interned in the Isle of Man and others were limited in their personal movement. Some aliens had to continue signing on at police stations right up to 1929 (see photo of Freha Leon’s Alien Registration Card). This applied to Turks, Greeks and Armenians of the Christian faith, also, and it was a very difficult time for these communities.
After the talk, we were shown plans for the new synagogue before being treated to delicious snacks (photo) and a chance to mingle and chat. It was altogether a most pleasant and interesting evening for which we thank the Rabbi and Basil Jeuda.
Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group