Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Kindertransport and Kosher Food in Blackpool

I was reading Bookwitch's blog today (www.bookwitch.wordpress.com, on 22nd November), in which she attended a performance of a play about the Kindertransport on the concourse of Manchester Piccadilly railway station. This happened in 1938, when hundreds of Jewish children were sent out of Nazi Germany by their families to safety in England - many never saw their families again. Suitcase is being performed at ten stations around the country to mark the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransports.

It reminded me of one of my gran's stories.
She was evacuated from Manchester at the beginning of the Second World War because she was pregnant, and sent to Blackpool (the coach they were in went round and round the streets about three times before they were found somewhere to stay). She ended up in a group taken in by Mrs Colenso, who ran a boarding house - which began a friendship between them that lasted over fifty years.
Also in the group of pregnant women was an Orthodox Jewish woman - and she had a problem. None of the food Mrs Colenso was cooking was kosher. The woman was eating slices of bread and butter, but not much more than that - and one of the other women was quite deliberately eating the bread and butter first, because she didn't like Jews.
My gran was the sort of woman who couldn't stand by and do nothing - so she went to Mrs Colenso and explained the problem.
"But, I don't know how to cook Jewish food!" Mrs Colenso said. "What can we do?"
My gran suggested that they find a Jewish family in Blackpool that the woman could have her meals with, and somehow they found a couple who were willing to feed her. It all had to be done on the quiet, because Mrs Colenso was in charge of all the ration cards for her guests, and for this to work, she had to hand over the Jewish woman's ration cards to the couple who were buying the food. No-one in authority ever found out, and the Jewish woman was able to have her baby in Blackpool, safely out of range of the German bombers.

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