The Museum’s collection is made up of objects, documents, photographs and oral histories charting the many stories and experiences of Manchester Jewish life. By doing so we hope to promote understanding in the wider community and preserve the heritage of the Jewish community here. We are also dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust through our exhibitions and collecting policy.
Towards the end of the 18th century Jewish traders started to sell portable goods in Manchester and travellers came offering their services as pawnbrokers, opticians and dentists. In around 1788 a group of about 15 of these traders and their families settled here and we see the start of Manchester’s Jewish community. The population quickly grew with traders from Germany and Holland and Sephardi merchants from the coastlands of the Mediterranean arriving to seek a share in Manchester’s profitable cotton trade.
From the mid-1840s they were followed by immigrants from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires seeking an escape from enforced poverty, discrimination and violence. The Jewish population was further increased by the arrival of 6,000 refugees from Nazism in the 1930s, Holocaust survivors after 1945 and Egyptians, Hungarians and Iranians in the 1940s and 50s.
The community here is still thriving in several parts of Greater Manchester and the diverse community continues to play a significant role in Manchester life.
MJM is a custodian of two Czech Torah scrolls on loan from The Memorial Scrolls Trust.
These Torah scrolls formed part of a collection of Jewish religious items gathered by the Jewish community in Prague in 1942. Hidden during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, they survived the war. In 1964, 1,564 scrolls from the collection were brought to Westminster Synagogue in London. Most of the scrolls have since been distributed to Jewish communities across the world. They are a memorial to all those who perished.
Find out more about the scrolls at www.memorialscrollstrust.org.