We met my brother Nigel this morning at the North Finchley tube station and went to Camden in North London together to look around the market and meet up with my sister-in-law Monique.
On the way, we passed the picturesque Camden Locks.
The Camden Market is a hip place, full of funky clothes and cheap eateries. If your kid was in a band, this is where they would probably shop. The fact that this used to be an old stables/horse hospital gives it lots of character, and the horsey theme has been used to good effect, keeping the stables-like feel to many stalls, in the decorations about the shops, and in the many equine themed statues throughout the place.
After grabbing a quick lunch, we walked to the nearby Jewish Museum in Camden. Beyond the obligatory, “What is Judaism” type exhibits, and samples of various forms of Judaica, the museum also has a kosher (meat) cafeteria, exhibits on the Jewish communities of the UK, and a temporary exhibit space, which is currently about British Jews in the entertainment industry.
They made good use of their multimedia resources. In particular, I found two exhibits quite compelling. In one of them they included a number of common, but potentially controversial questions such as “What is the role of Women in Judaism”. For all of these questions, they had short video responses from rabbis representing most of British Jewry including United Synagogue (modern orthodox), Masorti (similar to American Conservative), Reform (somewhere between American conservative and reform), and Liberal (most like US reform). So you could look at a particular movement’s perspective on a number of issues, or look at one issue and see how the different movements have similar or differing opinions on it.
The other multimedia exhibit I liked was about the communities throughout the UK. This showed all the towns were Jewish communities were known to have been established and included a brief chronological history of them, as well as photos and drawings when available. While I always knew that there was (and still is) a community in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I had not realized that there had been a community in Derry also. In Southern Wales (where Nigel lives) there were many communities during the height of the industrial revolution, all but two of which are now gone. Looking at the map and reading about the Port Talbot Jewish community, it stuck me that Nigel IS the Port Talbot Jewish community today.
It was a nice day, so we decided to walk across Regents Park. We found ourselves in the rose garden (which had a very pleasing odor!), presenting some nice photo ops.
With our various dietary restrictions, my sister-in-law Ruth very graciously made a lovely dinner for us all. Ruth is married to my oldest brother Andy, and their son Nathan drove up from Nottingham to join us. He is graduating with his bachelor’s in Zoology in a few weeks and is also avid about music and photography. Perhaps he can charm animals with his music and then take pictures of them.
It was very nice to catch up with everyone. It is rare that we can all be in the same place at the same time, hence my desire to get a family photo, which isn’t as easy as it might be when you have your two older brothers heckling you. As I told them, other people pay me big bucks to do this! Thankfully they went fairly easy on me this time.
L to R: David, Kelly, Andy, Ruth, Nathan, Nigel, Mo.