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Lewis Emanuel Memorial

Restoration of the Lewis Emanuel memorial

Willesden Jewish Cemetery was opened as a burial ground for the Jews by permission of the Home Office in 1873, under Queen Victoria. Its complex of funerary buildings – Prayer Hall, Cohanim Room and Mortuary designed by architect Nathan Solomon Joseph, with a Portico designed by Harry Ford – have survived virtually intact and are still in use for their original purpose. They were listed Grade II in August 2017.

There are at least 735 people of note buried in the cemetery. These include the first Jewish MP and the first peer in the House of Lords (both Rothschilds), a prime minister, colonial governors, manufacturers, pioneers of British high street retailing, scientists, film makers, artists and art dealers as well as Chief Rabbis, clergy, scholars and writers.

The ironwork grave of the Victorian solicitor Lewis Emanuel and his wife Julia is the only one of its kind in the cemetery and is in a prominent position along the main avenue. Lewis Emanuel died in 1898 and his wife in 1920. The inscription on the plaque reads:

‘Lewis Emanuel. Born May 14, 1832. Died June 19, 1898. For 30 Years Solicitor to the Jewish Board of Deputies. A Good Jew and a Good Englishman. Beloved By All Who Knew Him (Five Hebrew Letters -- an acronym for “May His Soul Be Bound in the Bonds of Life”) And His Wife Julia Died 25 July 1920’.

‘A Good Jew and a Good Englishman’ is especially interesting, reflecting the aspiration of Victorian Jews to do their duty to their country as citizens who practised the Jewish faith. Emanuel’s death – shortly after handing out prizes to pupils of the Sunday Hebrew classes at Old Ford, east London – was extensively reported in the Jewish Chronicle. Emanuel’s sons were active in the fields of art and literature and one was a leading civil servant in India. The eldest child Edith Rebecca became the second wife of Alfred Haldinstein, Sheriff of Norwich. The Haldinsteins were by then established as shoe manufacturers in the city. The firm in a later generation merged to become Bally and Haldinstein, the name disappearing into the Swiss shoe brand by the late 20th century. This couple had a daughter of their own, Mary Rose, who married a cousin, Alfred Haldinstein Caro, himself descended from a Sephardi Jewish family. They were the parents of Sir Anthony Caro, the noted sculptor and pupil of Henry Moore, who died in 2013.

The ironwork was heavily corroded, leading to cracking of the stone supports, with significant losses. The memorial has been lightly sanded and the ironwork recast where missing, followed by conservation painting. The stonework grave has been repaired and repointed.

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