LONDON (JTA) — London’s Jewish Museum is to close indefinitely next month and begin hunting for a new home for its collection of 40,000 objects, one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
The rising costs of maintaining its current premises in northwest London and a difficult fundraising environment exacerbated an already precarious financial situation for the museum, its chairman Nick Viner told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The Jewish Museum intends to close its doors at the end of June and be out of its current building on Albert Street by the end of the year.
Viner said that the museum had been working on a “vision for the future” that would have seen it move to a building better tailored to the institution’s needs, but that the board had decided that it was no longer possible to make that transition seamlessly.
“We realized that it wasn’t possible to fund the ongoing museum, where the costs were going up significantly, and to focus on a future,” he explained. “We decided that we would pause — move out of the building, sell it, and use the funds to help us over the next period, so that we can continue to operate in a transition mode.”
The Jewish Museum, which had been struggling even prior to COVID-19, was forced into restructuring and layoffs during the pandemic, and it pivoted heavily towards educational programs.
Those programs will continue, and the museum also intends to operate temporary exhibitions in smaller spaces around London, while the rest of the collection is put in storage or loaned temporarily to other institutions.
“There is an opportunity to have parts of the collection that haven’t been seen be accessible to people in different parts of the country, which could be very exciting,” Viner said. “We are just starting to look at how it would work practically, and whether others can house parts of the collection safely.”
Among the rare objects that risk slipping out of view are the oldest Hanukkah menorah made in Britain, which has been displayed since the museum was founded in 1932, and a 17th-century Venetian synagogue ark. The Jewish Museum also houses collections from the Jewish Military Museum, the United Synagogue and the Jewish Historical Society.
But the institution’s small building meant that only 5% of its objects were displayed. It has historically also had a smaller profile than its counterparts on the continent, which operate largely based on public funding and have become more firmly entrenched on both Jewish and non-Jewish tourists trails and local cultural scenes.
“We are very conscious that the U.K. has the second largest Jewish community in Europe and that London’s museum is both very small and a very different kind of space from some of the great Jewish museums around Europe,” said Viner. “We feel that we have so many fantastic stories to tell and so much to show that we ought to have a museum that reflects that, but it will only work if the community is ultimately supportive.”
The museum will have to rely heavily on donors within the Jewish community to ensure its long-term future, as funds from the Arts Council England, a British government-funded body, are insufficient on their own to ensure its sustainability.
Recent records show that in the twelve months up to March 2022, the revenue of the Jewish Museum was hovering at just over a third of pre-COVID levels. The museum was granted National Portfolio status by Arts Council England last year, a label that provides it with a stream of over $280,000 a year until 2026. It had previously received an injection of over $1 million by the Arts Council during the pandemic.
“There is always a risk when you don’t have the fundraising that you cannot continue,” added Viner, who said that it was still uncertain how much the Jewish Museum was looking to raise. “There are different models. It could be a very significant amount, or it can be smaller depending on the scale and the nature of the [future] building. I wouldn’t want to put a future on it.”
While there is currently no specific location in mind for a future site, there is an understanding that an area with more foot traffic is vital. The current site, on a side street, is unlikely to be noticed by many curious tourists or long-time Jewish residents of London. There is also a hope that any future site, whether newly built or purchased, would have outdoor space and permit greater flexibility than the Albert Street building.
The Jewish Museum moved to Camden in 1994. Its current home has been the same since 2010, when it purchased a former piano factory behind the site and remodeled and combined the buildings.
The museum, which had previously put on widely acclaimed exhibitions on Amy Winehouse, Jewish cartoonists and Jewish soccer history in Britain, had also not been able to put on temporary exhibitions since the pandemic because of the cost.
“Exhibitions and work with our collection is a lot more expensive,” said Viner. “We believe that education is really important, but we also have a fantastic collection and lots of stories to tell. We need to find a way to do that too.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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