A new photography book has come out about two of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the U.K. Called East End Jewish Cemeteries: Brady Street and Alderney Road, the 96-page volume is the result of a five-year documentation project by the author, Louis Berk.
Berk writes on his web site that he is “a secondary school teacher and since 2004 I have worked at a school in Brady Street in the heart of Whitechapel. I did not realise until I was looking out of a second story window one day that my school adjoins one of the oldest Jewish Cemeteries in the UK.”
The Alderney Road cemetery was established in 1696 and is the oldest existing Ashkenazi cemetery in Britain. The Brady Street cemetery, also Ashkenazi, opened in 1761 and has about 3,000 graves, including members of the Rothschild family. The book Jewish London: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Visitors and Londoners notes that the stones are decorated with “a variety of emblems providing a fascinating insight into the early LondonJewish commuity.”
Both cemeteries were closed in the mid-19th century, and both are closed to visitors except by appointment. (Contact United Synagogue: www.theus.org.uk)
Berk writes that he obtained permission from United Synagogue, the cemeteries’ owner, to carry out his documentation.
Undertaking a long term project right next door to where I worked allowed me to photograph very early in the morning. During the winter months this was before and during dawn and also at sunset. In the summer it allowed me to capture the delicate early morning sunlight before the day became bleached out with too much sun.
Berk’s book, published by Amberley, a press that focuses on local history, includes an introduction by Rachel Kolsky, an award-winning guide and co-author of Jewish London: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Visitors and Londoners.