The History Department, joined by ex-member of staff, Susie Fox, had the pleasure of taking 14 Year 9 students to Ely in Cambridgeshire to visit one of the communities that hosted JFS evacuees during WW2.
The day started with an Interfaith Workshop with students from Ely College, hearing the experiences of an evacuee, Michael Cohen, and considering the challenges faced by JFS students. A highlight was a walking tour of the city. They visited the church hall that was given over to act as a Synagogue, which Michael clearly recalls as the venue of the Pesach Seder he experienced during evacuation, the home of Mrs Knowles, the vicar’s wife, who was instrumental in setting up the Jewish boys’ hostel for 70 refugees as well as the schoolhouse.
The village of Isleham also kindly hosted us to view the Menorah that JFS students handcrafted in 1940 and donated to the community as a gift of gratitude. It is still displayed and used in the village church.
Being reminded of the importance of welcoming the ‘stranger’ and how the actions of individuals, such as Mrs Knowles can make a difference seems pertinent given current events.
The BBC documented the day as part of a news item marking the commemoration of VE Day on 8th May. You can find the highlights on Breakfast News Sunday morning 7.00 – 9.00 am on IPlayer.