Poor Care


The Jewish establishment and the Board of Guardians (founded in 1867) dominated charitable work among Manchester Jewry. Immigrant needs did not always come first as the elites had their own agendas and were more interested in getting the new arrivals to conform to anglicised social norms. As a result, there was considerable grass root activity among the refugees, a sort of self-help in response to the biases of the elite. The Jewish authorities had provided a certain amount of religious education with Manchester Jews’ School, Derby Street, which provided elementary, anglicised education to Jewish immigrants. Parents often supplemented this by sending their children to privately funded classes or cheders, but for those who could not afford to do so, an alternative was required. As early as 1879, some local women including Mrs Rose Fineberg, Mrs Joseph Taylor and Lea Berman recognised this need for further free instruction. Eventually, funds for the Talmud Torah (Hebrew School) were collected in the form of a penny-a-week donations, and the Talmud Torah opened in Bent Street in 1895.


Friendly Societies and Charitable Organisations

These popular co-operative bodies allowed workers to put aside some of their earnings and so insure themselves, to some degree, for times when sickness or lack of business threatened them. Of the many ‘lodges’ in the Friendly Society Movement, the Order of the Ancient Maccabeans was one that most obviously incorporated a Zionist dimension.

Two other societies focussed upon the relief of the older Jewish population, who were entirely dependent upon charity. ‘The Bread, Meat and Coal Society’ bought and adapted a house as a Home for the Aged and Needy. Another group organised a Temporary Shelter for the Jewish Poor, which provided for Jewish migrants who needed somewhere to stay for a few nights. Such organisations, although enjoying a certain amount of establishment interest and promotion, were mainly dependent upon weekly collections among Jewish workers. In 1906 they were amalgamated into the ‘Old Home’ on Cheetham Hill Road.


Jewish Health

Although led by the city councillor and industrialist Charles Dreyfus, the movement to finance and bring into existence a hospital which catered for the needs of a Jewish population was once again achieved in the face of the indifference and even hostility of the communal leadership. Opened in 1904 and enlarged later, the Jewish Hospital fostered a Jewish atmosphere with kosher food, and nurses and doctors able to converse with the immigrants. Concern for the health and welfare of poorer families was also provided by organisations such as the Ladies’ Visiting Association (founded in 1884).




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IMAGE AND DOCUMENT CREDITS: Talmud Torah (I Slotki, 70 Years of Hebrew Education), Lea Berman (I Slotki, 70 Years of Hebrew Education), Home for Aged (© Manchester Jewish Museum), Jewish Hospital (M Dobkin, More Tales). Full reference: Sources.