Focus Questions

What does this photograph make you think of?  Does it remind you of something you have seen before?

Which part of the phototgraph do you notice most and why?  Describe what you can see.

Why do you think this photograph was taken?  

Have you noticed...That each person has a book in front of them? What is the book and why does everyone have a copy? Click to reveal answer

The book is called a Haggadah and everyone has one because Passover is a festival where everyone participates. The Haggadahs are written in Hebrew and tells the story of Passover.

Explore themes

Seder Without Fear

Seder Without Fear

Seder Without Fear

This is a photograph of Hungarian and Egyptian refugees at the Jews' Temporary Shelter celebrating the festival of Passover in Spring 1956.

Seder Without Fear
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The Object

Object name: Seder Without Fear
Date: 1956
Catalogue number: 80.34
Material(s): Black & White Photograph
Artist: Jews' Temporary Shelter
On display in the Jewish Museum? No

This photograph was taken in 1956 of Hungarian and Egyptian refugees celebrating the festival of Passover at the Jews' Temporary Shelter in London.

  • The title of the photograph is 'Seder Without Fear.' It is important because these refugees were able to celebrate their faith without fear of persecution.
  • During this time in Hungary and Egypt there was a lot of political unrest which made people anxious and want to leave the country. There was also a lot of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East after the state of Israel was founded in 1948. This made many Jews want to immigrate to new countries for a better life.
  • Look at the objects on the table that indicate that this is the Jewish festival of Passover. There are Hebrew Haggadahs, the prayer books which contain the story of Passover. Matzah, the special flat bread eaten during the meal.  Candle sticks and wine.
  • Look at all the different people gathered together around the table. Notice how all the different generations and different families are seated together.
  • Look at the expressions on the peoples' faces. Notice the emotions as they celebrate Passover together in a new country.
photo of Jews' Temporary Shelter building

Jews' Temporary Shelter building

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The Story

Jews' Temporary Shelter

The 19th century was the beginning of the 'mass migration' of Jews immigrating to Britain from Eastern Europe. Upon arrival the immigrants had to find a place to live and a job. There were many con-men waiting to sell the immigrants fake tickets to other cities, charge high prices for accommodation, and exchange money at outrageous rates.

In order to fight this, Hermann Landau, a wealthy Jewish immigrant from Poland, opened the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter in Aldgate in 1885. The Shelter offered Jews advice and assistance during their first few weeks in London and temporary lodgings at affordable prices. The immigrants were allowed to stay at the shelter for a maximum of two weeks while they set up their new lives. 

After World War II, the Shelter accepted refugees, both Jews and non-Jews, from Europe, India, Egypt, Aden, Iran, and Iraq. The Shelter closed down as an accommodation centre in the late 20th century.

Passover

The story of Passover is the story of how 4,000 years ago the Jews were slaves in Egypt and how Moses led them to freedom in the land of Israel. It is a story that begins with a community experiencing hardship and oppression, and how they journeyed towards a better future in a new land.

The story of Passover reflects the stories of the Hungarian and Egyptian refugees in the photograph. Each person, each family, has a story to tell of why they left their country to move to Britain. This photograph is about how all these different people came together to celebrate their shared identity as immigrants in a new land.

 

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF for an activity about refugees' heritage.