Oxford Jewish Heritage
Oxford has undoubtedly one of the best documented medieval Jewish communities in the UK, and the story of the Jews in Oxford is an integral and fascinating part of the history of the Jews of England. The Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee comprises enthusiasts from several walks of life, all devoted to exploring and sharing this fascinating story beneath our feet in this ancient city.
The richly illustrated and professionally researched history of the medieval Jewish community draws on knowledge of archaeology, history, genealogy and literature, plus a dozen other specialties, to provide a fascinating research diving board into the subject, as well as a basis for understanding our present-day community and its history. Learn about Jewish life in the city before the Expulsion of 1290, come up to date with the story of the Jews since the 1655 re-admission, and find out about the contribution made by Jewish students and scholars to Oxford University since Jewish students were first accepted at the end of the 19th century.
Our group has become one of the ‘go to’ resources for those looking for the History of the Jews in the city. We have been consulted by the Oxford City Museum in the Town Hall, and our medievalist historian has been working closely with the Museum’s designers, now in the later phases of a major expansion, on a series of exhibits highlighting the Town Hall’s location in the midst of what was once the heart of Oxford’s medieval Jewish quarter. There will be two interactive maps, stories about more than a dozen of Oxford’s medieval Jews, and a number of outstanding artefacts to survive from the city’s medieval Jewry.
An exciting seven year collaboration with the OJH group and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, (one of the oldest museums in Europe), uncovered a treasure trove of remarkable and little-known Jewish objects, ranging from 1800 BCE to the 20th century. Spanning 3 continents and 14 countries, the objects include fertility figurines from ancient Judea, magic bowls from 5th century Iraq, a medieval Hebrew amulet, as well as paintings by Jewish artists Camille Pissarro, Mark Gertler and David Bomberg. The OJH/Ashmolean collaboration led to the publication in 2017 of a jointly funded book, The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 objects by Rebecca Abrams.
The current voice of Jews in Oxford can also now be heard through a series of Oral History interviews, recorded by professionally trained oral historians. All the interviews in our Oral History Collection are available to download and listen to at your leisure.
Our latest project MOJO (Mapping Oxford’s Jewish Origins) is collecting the ancestral stories of Oxford’s current Jewish community, with the aim of preserving our heritage for our children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come, and creating a virtual exhibition that can be shared within the community and more widely.
The OJH site, in addition, links to several other sources of knowledge and history covering the Jewish story in the UK, and there are contact details also for any visitors who wish to take a guided or self guided tour of the Jewish Heritage of Oxford, and also details of the Guided and Self-Guided tours of the Jewish Objects in the Ashmolean.
Please take a look at the Oxford Jewish Heritage website at www.oxfordjewishheritage.co.uk