REVIEWS of Jewish Lives: Britain 1750-1950

Appeared on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, October 8, 2013

Jewish Lives: Britain 1750 – 1950 provides excellent articles detailing the lives of ten Jewish immigrants to Great Britain. It provides a wealth of information about each of these immigrants and their families. Where possible, information about the immigrants and the environment in which they lived in “the old country” is provided, along with information about their lives in Great Britain after immigration. As a result, the book provides a lot of background information of interest to many Jewish genealogists.

This book is not a tutorial on “how to research Jewish genealogy.” However, it does provide examples of where and how information was found for each of the ten immigrants. It becomes a great tutorial by use of example. Author Melody Amsel-Arieli obviously is an expert genealogist. She researched both commonly-available and obscure records alike. At the end of each chapter, she provides an extensive bibliography of the records searched, including many documents from each immigrant’s home country. I found the bibliographies to be almost as interesting as the stories as the bibliographies list many resources that other genealogists may not know about.

The immigrants selected for this study came from Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and a number of Eastern European countries. All suffered almost unimaginable hardship in order to provide a better life for themselves and their families. Anyone who wishes to research their own Jewish ancestry will learn much from this book, especially if their ancestors eventually made their way to Great Britain.

Appeared on Amazon July 23, 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Read for Family History Buffs and Non-Genealogists Alike, July 23, 2013
This review is from: JEWISH LIVES: Britain 1750-1950 (How Our Ancestors Lived) (Paperback)

Whether you’re interested in genealogy or history, or just enjoy diving into some compelling life stories, this book is for you. The author does a beautiful job of describing the lives of ten Jews who immigrated from various countries to Great Britain (one of whom happens to be my great-great grandfather, Ksiel Pelikan). We get to know not only their individual stories, but also the historical context in which they lived, both in Britain and in their countries of origin. As an added bonus, each chapter contains a detailed description of research sources and methods, which will be invaluable to any reader who’s interested in exploring his or her own family history. I highly recommend this book.


Appeared on Amazon, May  19, 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulously researched, May 19, 2013

History can be dull or it can weave past to present. This work is of the latter type. If you start to doze at the mention of genealogy, change your mind immediately. The voluminous research that went into creating this seamless series of narratives is admirable and the range of subjects – from Portuguese to German to Polish Jews – is comprehensive. Each distinct vignette serves as a model and anyone who appreciates the dearth of family records and published historical works on the subject of how Jews lived through these centuries will be glad to read the author’s reconstruction of a hazy yet important and little known past. How did Jews earn a living? What induced them to change names and yet keep Jewish customs? What were the social supports of the community in various periods? Amsel-Arieli draws creatively on extensive bodies of research as she clarifies Jewish life in England over two hundred years. Impressive bibliographies and notes should assist scholarly readers while clarity of writing and chapter format make this work accessible to students writing book reports and doing historical research for school assignments.
Appeared on Amazon, July 7, 2013
The following is a copy of the email that I wrote to Melody Amsel-Arieli.”I recently received my copy of Jewish Lives and thoroughly enjoyed it. As you would expect, I enjoyed the chapter about my great grandfather, Woolf Davis, the most….I would like to thank you for writing this book and even more for including our family in it. The courage and percerverance of the Jewish families and their success in their new homeland is an inspiring story and a great read.
Appeared in Local London (UK)
The writer is fascinated by the stories of people’s ancestors who settled in different towns and cities in Britain over the centuries, and presents the life stories of ten individual Jews who immigrated here in her book Jewish lives.
“I was inspired by many people in Israel,’ explains Melody, who moved there from New Jersey in the United States in 1971, ‘which was settled by survivors from Nazi Germany along with newcomers from around the world. They all have fascinating stories to tell. And friends with British roots particularly interested me.’
Melody has pieced together the detail of these ten lives – their work, pastimes, families, daily chores, food and celebrations – and placed their social motives for immigration, arrival in the UK and experiences as they adjusted to their new surroundings, in the wider historical context of their adopted community and society.
Melody sought family researchers who were interested in participating in her project on Jewish immigration in the UK, and chose ten stories that present Jews who arrived at various times, arranging them chronologically.