Although the cover price of Jewish London is a bargain, this book may end up costing you a whole lot more — like round-trip airfare to London! While Kolsky and Rawson are happy to guide you to anything of Jewish interest in or around London, from inventories of Jewish items in various museums, to cemeteries with Jewish notables, their walking tours of key Jewish neighborhoods are the real heart and soul of this book. Not only do they point out significant buildings and architectural features, they chat about the characters — the anarchists, artists, feminists, philanthropists, politicians, sports heroes and others — who lived and worked in the area, occasionally adding a website address for further information. Then too, the authors understand that while you’re taking one of their tours, you’d also want to know about certain non-Jewish attractions en route. It would be a shame to go all the way to the East End, for example, and not visit the Dennis Severs’ House. Their descriptions of synagogues available for visits or worship (as well as closed synagogues) are particularly useful, since this information is often hard for tourists to discover. Not only are their maps easy to use, their color photos of attractions are wonderful for both the armchair traveler and for on-the-spot identification of places of interest. While they do list some shops and places to eat in key neighborhoods, they keep it minimal, aware that such suggestions outdate guidebooks quickly. After reading Jewish London, there’s only one unanswered question — when are Kolsky and Rawson going to Paris? Glossary, index, maps, photographs.
Bettina Berch, author of the recent biography, From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Life and Work of Anzia Yezierska, teaches part-time at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.