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Bibliophile price: £4.00
The story of East Ender Isaac Jacobs is told in his own words, which his son Norman has skilfully woven together with the testimony of other family members to make an absorbing and often hilarious account of a poor Jewish family living in Spitalfields between the wars. Isaac's mother was born in the Whitechapel of Jack the Ripper, and her uncle Jacob Levy was actually named in some Ripper investigations. Working in a cigar factory from the age of 13, she married a man in the furniture trade, and they prided themselves on being native English Jews who had arrived in the 17th century, whereas many in the community were refugees from the Eastern European pogroms of the late 19th century. Sunday lunch was salt beef cooked in a pan with carrots and potatoes, and in poor times every meal was bread and marge. They slept several to a bed in their day clothes. Sunday night was bath night, in one tub of water brought up in jugs several floors. The overcrowding was eased when they were rehoused in a new flat in Bethnal Green, where favourite games included skipping, football, cricket, leapfrog and "bussing up", when boys would link arms and rush up and down in a demented frenzy. Isaac's first job was with a milkman, then he went to his father's furniture-polishing business, finally being apprenticed to the woodcarver Mr Finkelstein. The author concludes with the Depression, anti-Semitism, the Battle of Cable Street and finally Isaac's marriage to a non-Jew, which caused quite a stir. 288pp, paperback, black and white photos.

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