About the project

Shalom Sussex project

Shalom Sussex – The Jewish Community in WWI will profile the contribution Jewish people in Sussex made during the First World War – both on the home-front and abroad on the battlefield.

Jewish people make up a small part of the Sussex demographic, and with partners and participants we have realised how little information is available about this topic. We seek to research, explore and share this hidden history.

Through this year-long project we will explore local Jewish lives between 1914-1918, researching family experiences, traditions and religious memories. We will focus on investigating military service through archival publications such as the British Jewry Book of Honour to ensure stories aren’t lost for future generations, whilst seeking insight into Jewish life in Sussex at this key moment in history.

We will research turbulent events during this time: Internment, women in domestic and military life, military experiences and keeping kosher during this time of hardship.

We will highlight lives such as Florence Oppenheimer, who trained as a nurse (later a celebrated Jewish cook) at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in 1914, receiving a citation from Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War, Capt. Joseph Friend of the Sussex Yeomanry, Leonard George Marks who served with the Royal Sussex Regiment and was killed in France, as well as children’s lives and school days too.

We seek to uncover and promote Jewish history related to World War I and share this with both Jewish and non-Jewish people to commemorate and celebrate this faith group and local lives.

The main focus of our project will be the creation of a community history website to collect new archive material, as well as to share this heritage publicly. In keeping with Jewish tradition, this site will enable visitors to respect ancestors so that their passing can be commemorated.

We will explore the Jewish Chronicle archive, Jewish Care archives, local conscription and hospital documents as well as synagogue records including those at Middle Street Synagogue, Brighton.

Over the next year, we will train volunteer researchers to find and collect new information, contextualising existing material to create a new community resource which will then be archived at The Keep, Brighton. Gateways to the First World War will support us to provide archival training specifically to develop this theme enabling volunteers to gain new skills.

We are organising a community history conference to offer a further engagement which the Jewish Historical Society of England will support. This will focus on themes such as – Internment in Sussex, Reprisals against Sussex based German and Austrian Jews, Jewish soldiers and nurses and conscientious objectors identifying as Jewish.

Jewish people have been in Sussex since the 1700s, and the contribution in WWI made by Jews to the area has been significant. Follow our website to find out about events and activities between March 2019 and March 2020..

Our project partners are Jewish Care, Centre for German-Jewish Studies, and the Jewish Historical Society of England.

This project is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund through a First World War – Then and Now grant. Thanks to National Lottery players for their charitable support to help deliver this project.


Many of the images on this website have been taken with kind permission from the project: British Jews in the First World War – We were there too.

Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund