The London Jewish Baker's Union
On our last Shabbat in the park, September 1 (14th Elul 5772), we learned and talked about the early foundations for Jewish understanding of labor law and workers' rights. After that day, I received some wonderful emails from people who were there, following up on the conversation.
Juliet Milkens, who has been picking up phone messages for Kolot for many years, wrote to say:
"This is the banner of my grandfather's union of which he had been a member and an officer for many years. My grandfather, Simon Levene, arrived in England in 1900, married in 1903 and his eldest child, my father, was born in 1904.
This painted silk banner was made around 1925, and is one of only two surviving Jewish union banners in Britain. It belonged to the London Jewish Bakers’ Union, the longest lived Jewish trade union, which operated from 1905 to 1970.
The banner represents a tangible link with the Jewish labour movement which flourished in London’s East End at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was commissioned while Michael Proof, a leading militant, was the union’s secretary. The banner reminded shoppers to buy bread with the union label, which guaranteed that it was baked under acceptable working conditions. The other side of the banner has the same slogans in Yiddish, and an enlarged depiction of the union label."
Banner Courtesy of the Jewish Museum of London
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