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Brighton & Hove Jewish Home for the Aged: Hyman Fine House

In June 1950,the Brighton & Hove JewishBoard of Guardians received a letter from the London Jewish Board of Guardians indicating their intention of opening ahomein Brighton or Hove for elderly Jews from London. The response was to enquire whether it would be possible to accommodate local residents there also, and this line was pursued for… Read more »

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In June 1950,the Brighton & Hove JewishBoard of Guardians received a letter from the London Jewish Board of Guardians indicating their intention of opening ahomein Brighton or Hove for elderly Jews from London. The response was to enquire whether it would be possible to accommodate local residents there also, and this line was pursued for a while.

Indeed, when the London Board opened their home, Hannah House, in Brunswick Terrace, Hove, a few local people wereamongst the 40 initial residents, of the eventual potential complement of 80 elderly people.

However the idea of a specifically local “Residence for Aged Gentle Folk” soon took hold and an initial planning meeting took place on 21 June 1950. There were early thoughts that such a home here might be run in conjunction with the London Board, but this notion was dropped, and by July 1951 the Home Sub-Committee of the local Board of Guardians reported that it would be feasible to open a local home for local Jews of 60 or over, and of limited means.

This latter restriction was lifted as the scheme progressed. By June 1952,there was a home ad hoc committeewith three participating organisations, the local Board of Guardians, B’nei Brith and a Home for the Aged Aid Committee, and various fundraising activities were organised.

Suitable premises were purchased for £6,000 at 99 Marine Parade, Brighton, and the Brighton & Hove Home for Aged Jews was consecrated by the then Chief Rabbi, the Most Rev Dr  Israel Brodie, on 23 May 1954.

Actually the first residents had moved in two weeks earlier. The management of the home was to be independent of any other organisation, but the physical assets were lodged with the London and the Brighton & Hove Jewish Boards of Guardians. The home was subsequently named after Sadie Lewis who had done so much to raise money for the homeand to find suitable premises.

However within a few years the need for larger and improved premises became apparent. The chairman of the home’s board, Sonny Resner, together with his board and several committees, and the very active support of B’nei Brith, thereupon set about raising the additional funds required.

Over £250,000 was raised, and in November 1971, SirKeith Joseph, Minister for Social Services, unveiled a commemorative plaque two years in advance of the actual opening. The new home, an extended rebuilding of the original, is situated between Marine Parade and Bristol Road, with the main entrance in Burlington Street.

With three main storeys, each with six double rooms and one single room, there were also many other facilities including a synagogue (a rebuilt extension of the original) donated by Mr Leon Tamman. This was rededicated to the memory of Maimonides, on 17 June 1973.

Even all this proved to be inadequate and a £150,000 extension was opened by Lord Goodman in 1978.

Further developments took place by 1994. New legislation required very significant sums to be spent on updating (such as ensuite facilities for every bedroom), and for a need for professional management and supervision.

The decision was therefore taken to merge with the London-based Jewish Care, originally the London Jewish Board of Guardians, whose intent in 1950 had been the spark which had ignited the establishment of the Home in the first place.

Following discussion between the Brighton & Hove Jewish Welfare Board, the management Committee of the Home, and Jewish Care, the Brighton & Hove Jewish Home for the Aged was in 1997 vested solely with Jewish Care.

After the initial naming, the home was anonymous until 2001. In 1997, Jewish Care had received a one million pound bequest from the estate of Hyman Fine. Mr Fine had arrived from Russia in 1905 and built up a very successful tailoring business in London, introducing Harris Tweed to the general market. As a result of this bequest it was decided to name the home ‘Hyman Fine House’.

Although Hyman Fine had no obvious local connections, his generous contribution has allowed the home to continue serving the community, but that is not the full story. Many local workers have given much voluntary time to assist the home for many years. Itis impossible to mention them all. Some have already been referred to but a special note should be made of the many years of service of Judy and Ivan Irwin, Alan Burke, Gloria Lennard, Fausta Sheldon, David Pincus (whose personal archive has been the source of much of the more recent history) and so many, many more.

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