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30/11/2013
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*Migration Histories > Jewish > Settling
* Immigration From Eastern Europe 
 
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A Russian Jew, Menachem Kurkuk, c. 1905, in dress typical of the Russian Pale of Settlement. His children migrated to Manchester, where they changed their surname to Goodman.
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A Russian Jew, Menachem Kurkuk, c. 1905, in dress typical of the Russian *Pale of Settlement. His children migrated to Manchester, where they changed their surname to Goodman.
* Moving Here catalogue reference (MJM) PD689/8
The first Jewish settlers from Eastern Europe - from the Russian Empire, Prussian Poland and Galicia - arrived in the town immediately after 1844, when the opening of Manchester's Victoria Station completed a continuous, and relatively cheap, link by rail and sea between Russia and the United States. The new ease of travel persuaded large numbers to move west to escape the hopeless poverty in their homelands and the fear induced by sporadic persecution throughout Eastern Europe.

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Housing in Red Bank, which became a centre for East European Jewish immigrants from the 1840s until the 1930s, when much of it was demolished.
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Housing in Red Bank, which became a centre for East European Jewish immigrants from the 1840s until the 1930s, when much of it was demolished.
* Moving Here catalogue reference (MJM) PD749/1
Many of those arriving in Britain were trans-migrants, travelling through on their way to the United States. An increasing number, however, chose to stay on in cities like Manchester, with its opportunities for work and prospects of support from the settled Jewish community. In 1851 Eastern Europeans already made up 25% of Manchester's Jewish population, and by 1881 they were 66%, out of a total Jewish population now approaching 7,000.

Most of the newcomers were poverty-stricken, with few if any industrial skills. They made their homes in the densely populated slum districts closest to the existing Jewish Quarter, such as Red Bank and Strangeways, and found work in small workshops manufacturing cheap clothing, cloth caps, waterproof garments and furniture.

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A tailoring workshop in Cheetham Hill, early 20th century.
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A tailoring workshop in Cheetham Hill, early 20th century.
* Moving Here catalogue reference (MJM) PD680/19
Their employers, themselves mostly Jews of Eastern European origin, understood their common language - *Yiddish - and could make allowance for their strict religious observance. As both poverty and the fear of persecution intensified towards the end of the century, the Jewish population continued to grow. By 1914 it numbered around 30,000.

The overwhelming majority of them were from Russia, but there were enough from Austria and Romania to support two Romanian and three Austrian synagogues in Manchester before the First World War.

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Creators: Bill Williams

 
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