Highlights of Hidden Treasures

Menorah made from part of a sten gun by a Jewish Brigade soldier in Bergen-Belsen • Imperial War Museum

The end of 2020 approaches and we have a chance to look back on the highlights of Hidden Treasures; celebrating Jewish archives in Britain.

We launched the project in the summer with Gems from the Archives;  a doodle on a medieval legal document of Aaron, son of the devil from The National Archives,  a 1930s black and white photo of staff the sun-room at the Burton’s factory from the West Yorkshire Archives Service and Juden Raus!, a Nazi board game from the Wiener Holocaust Library.

Our Treasures from Britain’s synagogue archives event in October featured speakers the Sandys Row synagogue archive in the East End of London, treasures from the London Metropolitan Archives and the Lahav project at the North East’s Tyne and Wear Museums. The LMA’s Nicola Avery shared with us her Top Ten Tips for Synagogue Archives.

In the brief lull between lock-downs, Daniel Cesarani visited exhibitions at two Hidden Treasures archives: the British Library’s Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word and Tate Britain’s Tate Archive 50 and he gave us a potted history of the history of Jews in Britain, and a reading list so that we could find out more.

In November, we celebrated the 260th anniversary of the Board of Deputies of British Jews by sharing the Board’s first Minute Book, held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

So far, we have recruited nearly fifty archives to the project, all of whom hold material that tells the story of Jews in Britain. Some – like the Imperial War Museum – have major national archives, others are relatively small, such as Nicholas Winton’s personal archive. There are many local archives, reflecting parts of the country where there are – or were – Jewish communities. Many University special collections have joined Hidden Treasures, including the Anglo Jewish Archives at Southampton University. And, of course, there are Jewish archives such as the Brady Photographic Archive, the Jewish Museums in London and Manchester, Sephardi Voices UK and the Jews of the RAF archive. Our archives are in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, at this time when we can’t easily visit the archives, we’ve shared the treasures from their collections on social media.

Looking ahead, we’re looking forward to our Jewish Heirlooms event in January where experts will tell members of the public more about the Jewish artefacts and documents they have at home. If you have any to share, please let us know about them here. And we’ll be welcoming new archives, and their treasures, to Hidden Treasures.

Over the eight days of Chanukah, we will be sharing the treasures you have most enjoyed seeing this year.

Wishing you a Chanukah Sameach – a Happy Chanukah!


Read more news stories

Hidden Treasures: Celebrating the documents, photos and artefacts in British archives that tell the story of Jews in Britain