Jewish Festival of Belonging explores Cheetham Hill refugees + 80s Israeli ‘turmoil’

The Jewish Festival of Belonging continues this week, hosting a selection of events from comedy, to films and visual arts. 

The festival, which started on Saturday, is being held at the Manchester Central Library.

Events include a multi-faith comedy night, Immigrant Diaries with Sajeela Kershi and Special Guests on Tuesday night in honour of the Jewish festival of Purim. 

Kershi is a comedian, writer, and broadcaster who has won multiple awards for the sellout Immigrant Diaries at London’s Southbank, Brighton Fringe, WOMAD, and the Prague Fringe Festival. 

Purim commemorates Jewish people surviving a tyrant named Haman, who attempted to kill the Jews, and is often marked with feasts, fancy dress, and comedy. 

Other events include Songs of Arrival, which looks at Jewish refugees arriving to Cheetham Hill using oral histories and accounts on Thursday. 

There has been a Jewish community in Manchester since the 18th century, with a large influx in Jews in Manchester in the late 19th and early 20th century as Jews fled persecution in Europe. 

And it was Michael Marx – a Jew from Cheetham Hill – who opened the first Marks and Spencer with Thomas Spencer on Cheetham Hill road in 1893.

Today Cheetham Hill boasts a diverse population, with communities ranging from the Caribbean to India.

Other events include My Jerusalem by Avital Raz, a performance which explores “growing up in the turmoil of 1980s Israel”, and Rendezvous in Bratislava, a play exploring a relationship between granddaughter and grandfather.  

The festival, organised by the Manchester Jewish Museum, ends on Saturday, and has both free and ticketed events on offer. 

The Manchester Jewish Museum operates has the oldest surviving synagogue building in the UK outside of London, completed in 1874. 

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