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  • on June 5, 2017

Ministers at DHC

I am very grateful to Harold Pollins for supplying the information that enabled me to write the following DHC newsletter item; (Any inaccuracies are entirely mine)

The main thing that leapt out was that until the appointment of Rabbi Alby Copeland in September 1976 there was NO RABBI at Darlington! Instead the ‘ministers’ were almost always appointed as firstly shochet (kosher butcher), with their additional duties being chazan/ service reader and cheder teacher. Many of them supplemented their income by also teaching at Stockton and West Hartlepool.

Indeed it seems that in the main from the 1880s until 1907 when an advert appeared in the Jewish Chronicle, “Wanted at once, Chazan, Shochet and teacher. £65 per annum,” the Darlington community was catered for by occasional visits from ministers from other communities such as Middlesbrough and Sunderland under the auspices of the ‘Jewish Provincial Ministers Fund”. Grants were made to these roving ministers from the fund and (intrepid) inspectors would set out from Londonto inspect the DHC small religion class amongst others in the region.

I saidin the main, as it is recorded that in October 1888 the Rev Moses Reichman, “chazzan at Darlington died somewhat suddenly leaving a wife and 6 children and was buried in Middlesbrough.” (There was no Jewish cemetery in Darlington at that time. Readers may recall that some while ago Rev Reichman’s great- granddaughter, Marilyn Boxer of California, contacted DHC for help locating his grave which we were able to do, though sadly it seems there was no stone erected.)

Most of the early ministers were born abroad hailing from places such as Poland, Warsaw, Latvia and Russia and until about 1915 and the appointment of DHC member David Biermann’s ancestor, Rev B Hyams, none seem to have stayed long before moving on to other small provincial communities.

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