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The East End Jewish Free School

Updated: Feb 17

The Jews' Free School was first established in 1732 for the orphans of the community and later relocated to Bell Lane in the East End where, throughout the 19th century, it absorbed thousands of immigrant children.

It offered a strict course of both secular and religious studies while supplying clothing, food, and health care for the scholars.


One of those children was Israel Zangwill, born in London on 21 January 1864 in a family of Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire. His father, Moses Zangwill, was from what is now Latvia, and his mother, Ellen Hannah Marks Zangwill, was from what is now Poland.

He dedicated his life to championing the cause of people he considered oppressed, becoming involved with topics such as Jewish emancipation, assimilation, Zionism.


The use of the metaphorical phrase"melting pot" to describe American absorption of immigrants was popularised by Zangwill's play 'The Melting Pot’, a big success in the United States in 1909.

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