Oxford Jewish Community





Page created: 10 June 2015
Latest amendment of revision: 16 September 2016

Was There a Mikveh in Oxford in 1840s

by Harold Pollins

Originally published in Oxford Menorah Magazine, issue 215, June 2015, page 15

The first Jewish wedding in Oxford, in 1844, between Nathan Jacobs and Hannah Wolf, created a great deal of interest. In addition to its novelty in the city, it took place soon after the fire in St Ebbe’s in which the bridegroom’s father and sister were killed. Thus the wedding was reported in numerous newspapers, from The Times, to long reports in local ones, such as the Oxford Journal, the Oxford Chronicle & Reading Gazette, and the Oxford University & City Herald. The reports were very similar and may have been based on one reporter or perhaps been copied. But there is an intriguing extra piece in the report in the Oxford University & City Herald.

The wedding took place on Wednesday 28 August 1844. ‘On the Tuesday evening’, went the report, ‘the bride went into the bath, accompanied by her female friends, who made a great noise, - that being part of the ceremonial.’ One wonders what is meant by ‘the bath’. Was it a mikveh, a ritual bath? Was it in Oxford? If so, where was it and how long did it survive?

I have seen no other reference to its existence; indeed, David Lewis, in his The Jews of Oxford (at page 36) refers to Hermann Adler writing to the congregation in the 1880s about a mikveh. Obviously there wasn’t one and the congregation replied to Adler, explaining the expense and their lack of funds. The possibility that there was a mikveh in the very early days of the modern community, and for such a small one, is certainly worth remarking.

Return to List of Articles in Oxford Menorah

Oxford Jewish Community home page

List of JCR-UK Articles by Harold Pollins


Explanation of Terms   |   About JCR-UK  |   JCR-UK home page

Contact JCR-UK Webmaster:

JGSGB  JewishGen

Terms and Conditions, Licenses and Restrictions for the use of this website:

This website is owned by JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. All material found herein is owned by or licensed to us. You may view, download, and print material from this site only for your own personal use. You may not post material from this site on another website without our consent. You may not transmit or distribute material from this website to others. You may not use this website or information found at this site for any commercial purpose.

Copyright © 2002 - 2024 JCR-UK. All Rights Reserved