Mother came clean whilst washing up

A RUNCORN grandmother, who discovered her Jewish identity when she was seven years old, is trying to trace relatives who lived in Stamford Hill in the 1950s.

LIN ROSS told her amazing story of how she has traced her Jewish ancestry to 18th century London, to the recent International Jewish Genealogy Conference.

She later told the Jewish Telegraph: ‘‘I remember very clearly. I was washing up with my mother in our North London home when she whispered to me that I was Jewish.

‘‘I asked her what it meant. She struggled to reply, saying that she had not been brought up in the Orthodox way as her mother Rebecca Goldsmid had married out.

‘‘She told me that Jews pray in a synagogue and eat biscuits called matzot and do not eat pork. I asked if that included bacon as my grandfather worked on Smithfield market and we were very keen to eat whatever meat he brought home!

‘‘My mother had been told never to divulge her Jewish identity during the war for the safety of her family, as her mother had been concerned that Hitler was just across the Channel.’’

However, during the war Lin’s mother Gladys became engaged to a young British corporal. One day they were strolling the streets of London arm-in-arm on his leave, when the soldier spat at the feet of a Jew.

Immediately Gladys wrote him a letter terminating her engagement, without giving a reason as she had been sworn to secrecy over the issue of Jews. In return, she received a letter of reprimand from the corporal’s commanding officer for upsetting a young man who was protecting his country!

Gladys had only revealed her Jewish identity to her daughter after her first husband, Lin’s father, had left her.

But Lin grew up tucking her Jewish identity into the inner recesses of her consciousness.

She married, lived in Edinburgh, brought up her two daughters Angie and Maxine and moved to the north west in 1972 and divorced.

She told me: ‘‘It was only when I became a grandmother six years ago and I made a career change that I took a counselling course. I had to write an essay, Who Am I? As my natural father had left when I was seven, I realised that I had only my mother’s line. That was when I became interested in pursuing my ancestry. I also wanted to pass onto my grandchildren something of their background and heritage.

‘‘I went to the my local library, found the Jewish Year Book and contacted the Jewish Historical and Genealogical societies. A cousin, who was equally interested in tracing the family line encouraged me and put me in touch with Dr Anthony Joseph of Birmingham.’’

Dr Joseph, who is president of the Jewish Genealogical Society and a former president of the Jewish Historical Society, helped her trace her family back to 1784 in London. Lin was ecstatic and ‘‘hungry for knowledge’’ about Judaism. She told me: ‘‘One of my ancestors was a cap maker. He probably made yarmulkes.’’

Reading about Judaism and visiting synagogues was like ‘‘opening a picture book’’. Her first shool visit was at the invitation of Dr Joseph to Birmingham’s Singers Hill Synagogue for Jewish Book Week in 1997. She has since visited Liverpool’s Greenbank Drive Synagogue.

Now Lin has reached a stage where she is comfortable with her level of Jewish identity. She says: ‘‘I find Jewish life fascinating. But at this time in my life it would become difficult for me to be become totally encompassed by Jewish life. It would also be confusing for my family.’’

Yet Jewish identity seems to be subconsciously in the genes. Daughter Angie named her daughter Rebecca without realising that it was the name of her great grandmother!

Now, having taken her family line back to the 18th century, Lin would like to make contact with relatives still alive and is looking for members of the Goldsmid and Hyams families living in Stamford Hill in the 1950s.

Lin can be contacted on 01928 701958 or write to 37 Adywood Crescent, Waters Edge, Runcorn WA7 6NA.

NACHUM (Norman) PLOTKIN left Glasgow in 1961 and now lives in Long Island, New York.

He would like to hear from any of his old friends in Scotland.

Nachum lived in Bowman Street, Glasgow and attended Anette Street Primary School from 1946-51, then Queens Park Senior Secondary School.

The family moved to England, then Israel before finally settling in America.

Write to 295 Main St, East Rockaway, New York 11518, America or email nachump@aol.comm

To make an appeal, email MIKE COHEN at Please include your home address.

© 2000 Jewish Telegraph