There have been so many in the Brighton & Hove Jewish community who have made very important contributions to their community as well as in the wider local scene. Some information about many of these can be found in the previous section on ‘The Jewish Names on The Buses’, and in the text of many… Read more »
There have been so many in the Brighton & Hove Jewish community who have made very important contributions to their community as well as in the wider local scene.
Some information about many of these can be found in the previous section on ‘The Jewish Names on The Buses’, and in the text of many of the other contributions to this anthology, but there are so many more. So here is just a short selection. Without doubt there are many more who ought to be included, but there needed to be a cut-off point and this has been made by the editors. If your family member or favourite local Jewish personality happens not to be here, our apologies, but we hope to set up a website to enable people to go onlineand add to the history of the Jewish personalities of Brighton & Hove.
Harry Bloom – Born in London in 1909, Harry and his family moved to Brighton in 1946. He was a successful businessman who supported many of the Jewish charities then operating in the area. He became involved in the local amateur football scene with Worthing Football Club, where he became chairman, prior to being asked to join the board of Brighton & Hove Albion in the early 1970s. He was vice chairman to Mike Bamber when he died suddenly in 1980. His grandson Tony is now owner and chairman of the Albion, and was largely responsible for the building of the club’s new home at Falmer, the award-winning American Express Community Stadium.
Bernhard Baron– Born in 1850 in Brest Litovsk, his family moved to Karkhov when he was a child, and then to the United States when he was 17. Working in a tobacco warehouse, he had to sleep on the floor, but by enterprise and hard work he became moderately prosperous until he lost all his savings in a bank crash. Picking himself up, he redesigned his cigarette- making machine and patented it, licensing its use. Coming to England he fell in love with the country and stayed here for the rest of his life. He bought shares in Carreras Ltd, cigarette manufacturers, rising from director to managing director to chairman. The massive fortune he created he put to good use looking after his workers. Opening a convalescent home in Brighton he moved to 64 The Drive, Hove, and his charitable contributions can be found in hospitals, nursing homes, homes for the elderly and facilities for the young. A commemorative plaque to Bernhard Baron can be found to the left of the main entrance of the Royal Sussex County Hospital. He left the bulk of his vast fortune to charity, 25% Jewish and 75% non-Jewish.
Dr T Scarlett Epstein – Scarlett (originally Trudi) was born in Vienna and died in Hove in 2014 at the age of 90. In 1938, she escaped the horrors of the Anschluss, fleeing with her mother first to Yugoslavia and then to Albania, a country to which she was forever grateful. Fleeing again, this time to England, she found work in sweatshops in Manchester. Believing that there must be a better life, she took a degree in Anthropology at the University of Manchester and then began a distinguished academic career, specialising in South India. Whilst at the Australian National University, she met Professor Bill Epstein, who, like her, was an anthropologist, as well as a qualified barrister from Belfast. Later, both were appointed to chairs in the University of Sussex and involved themselves in many communal activities. Taking a new name from perhaps ‘Gone with the Wind’, Scarlett’s proudest hour came when she was made an OBE.
Barnett Marks – A prominent member of the Brighton and Hove Jewish community for many years, he was an alderman, a justice of the peace, and the first Jewish Mayor of Hove from 1910 to 1913, during which time he was involved in celebrations for the coronation of King George V in 1911. He was a pawnbroker and silversmith, with premises at 113a Church Road Hove, where his fascia name board can still be seen. He was active in the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation, president of the Board of Guardians, and involved in the founding of a B’nai B’rith lodge in Brighton. He was the founding honorary president of the newly formed Brighton branch of AJEX in 1938. He was also chairman of the Sussex Eye Hospital (1927), and involved in fundraising for other non-Jewish charities.
Marjorie Moos – lived at 100 Holmes Avenue, Hove. She started her working life as a governess for the Glover family in London. During and after the Second World War, she looked after and taught refugee children. Marjorie Moos’s work with refugees is mentioned in Anthony Grenville’s Jewish Refugees from Germany and Austria in Britain 1933-1970published in 2010. Marjorie ran the religion school at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood for many years, commuting from Hove where she lived with her widowed brother. With young people as her audience, she wrote Liberal Judaism: a brief introduction for young people(1957) and Stories of the Prophets (1964), both published by the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. In her retirement (from about the age of 80), she specialised in teaching potential converts to Liberal Judaism, and lived in Golders Green where she died at the age of 100 in 1994.
Chaim Raphael (Rabinovitch) – Born in Middlesbrough in 1908 into a strictly orthodox Jewish family, and initially intended for the Rabbinate. However, winning a scholarship to the University of Oxford University led him into a distinguished career in HM Treasury and the Foreign Office, and into academia. From 1970 to 1975, he was a Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex. Amongst his many and varied publications, perhaps the most successful was A Feast of History, a retelling of the Passover story, of which many a barmitzvah boy will have received at least one copy. He received both the OBE and CBE and died in 1994.
Sara Rebecca Platt (nee Stein) – A renowned concert pianist, Sara Stein came to Hove as a young girl of five in 1917. She began piano lessons at an early age and from the age of eight she was performing at competitions in London. In 1923, she secured a free place at Brighton & Hove High School for Girls, and by then she was being taught by Miss Marian Mennich, a name well-known in the Brighton area. Sara continued to progress, gaining honours in examinations and winning prizes in the Brighton and London Music Festivals for her piano playing.
Sara’s musical prowess was being recognised and in 1929, aged 17, she won the Elizabeth Stokes scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. During the 1930s,Sara won many prizes and played at prestigious concerts whilst continuing to live at home with her mother in Hove and travel to London to study. She received the Royal Academy of Music Certificate of Merit with Distinction in 1931-2 (the highest award at the Academy). On 15 October 1935, she gave a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall for which she received excellent press reviews, including one in the Jewish Chronicle.
By this time she had met her future husband, Maurice Leon Platt, at a social function in London. They were married on 22 December 1935 at Middle Street Synagogue with a young Rabbi Fabricant officiating. They went to live near Slough, where Maurice was a GP. Sara played twice with Sir Henry Wood at the Promenade Concerts, which were then held at the Queen’s Hall, Langham Place in London’s West End. Sara moved back to Hove in 1947 with her family when Maurice set up in GP partnership with Dr Isidore Myers. Their partnership was to last until Maurice’s death in 1966.
Sara gave some concerts in Hove using her married name but these were very few and far between. She played more for her own and her family’s pleasure. Her children’s recollections of this time are of hearing their mother playing the piano every evening while they were falling asleep. She gave a concert at the Hotel Metropole in aid of the Friends of Magen David Adom ambulance fund, and also found time to be president of the Women’s B’nai Brith lodge in 1952. In later years,she played for her own and her family’s pleasure but they have only a very few recordings of her playing. Her last public performance was a charity concert given in July 1979 in aid of WIZO. She died on 22 January 1983 andwas buried next to Maurice in Bear Road (Meadow View) cemetery.
Hannah Rothschild, Countess of Rosebery – Hannah was born in 1851, the daughter of the Baron Meyer and the Baroness Juliana de Rothschild. On the death of her father, she became known as the richest woman in Europe. She and her mother devoted much time and money to a range of charitable work, both Jewish and non-Jewish,but especially to help the deaf and mute, and she founded the Club for Jewish Working Women in Whitechapel.
Her family did not approve of her marriage to Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery, Liberal politician and racehorse owner, so much so,that they refused to attend the wedding and it was Benjamin Disraeli who gave her away. Hannah died in 1890, having borne her husband four children, and five years before he became Prime Minister. Despite her family having refused to recognise her marriage, she was buried in the Rothschild family plot at Willesden Jewish Cemetery, her funeral being attended by William Gladstone and his entire Cabinet. Hannah and her mother were regular visitors to Brighton often staying on the Baroness’s yacht. They gave the two menorahs that stand on either side of the ark in Middle Street Synagogue in memory of the Baron Meyer. Hannah’s two maiden aunts, the Misses Cohen, gave two of the fine stained glass windows there, in her memory.
Phillip Salomans – Born in London in 1796, as a young man he travelled extensively in the USA and became an American citizen. He returned to the UK and resumed his British citizenship. Working in the City like his father and younger brother, David, who became the first Jewish Lord Mayor of the City of London, he became a successful financier. He worshipped at the New London Synagogue where he was the warden and representative on the Board of Deputies. Moving to Hove,he lived at 26 Brunswick Terrace where he had his own private synagogue, whilst at the same time being the president of the Brighton Hebrew Congregation. In public life, he was a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of the County of Sussex. He married Emma Montefiore when he was 54 and she was 17, but she died eight years later, and he in 1867. They were buried together in West Ham Jewish Cemetery. Their son, David Lionel, succeeded his uncle to be the second Baronet.
Sydney Sharpe – Born in 1911 in Cable Street, in the heart of London’s Jewish East End,he started learning the violin at the age of five, and by 16 was playing professionally in the London orchestras accompanying the silent movies of that era. He played at the Blue Hall in Islington, and rose to be first violin at the London Palladium.
In 1936, he was appointed Musical Director at the Hippodrome, the youngest person to hold this post. He served in the Pioneer Corps during the war, leading successful bands entertaining the troops, but was invalided out in 1944 due to severe injuries. Once he had recovered, he rejoined the Hippodrome, where he directed the orchestra for over 20 years until it closed in 1965. One notable event was a performance of Dick Whittington, recorded for the BBC and broadcast on the Home Service in January 1945. Many international stars played the Hippodrome in this period, including Max Miller, Frankie Vaughan, Tommy Cooper and Max Bygraves, but tastes were changing due to television, and Sydney moved on to summer seasons at Great Yarmouth, and winter pantomimes in Bristol.
During his time in Brighton, Sydney organised concerts for local Jewish charities such as AJEX and JNF, and also successful performances of a string quartet at the Plummer Roddis department store in Western Road, and Sunday concerts at the King Alfred leisure centre and Hove seafront. He was a founder member of the Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue, initially in Holland Road, and later at Palmeira Avenue