A.N. Stencl

On Avrom Stencl and Whitechapel

Played out Whitechapel is a series of nine poems, one of a large number written/published over many years, and which Mr Stencl referred to as his ‘Whitechapel Lieder’ (ie songs/poems).
He loved the Land of Whitechapel dearly, sometimes referring to it as ‘Jerusalem’. He revelled in its vitality, and atmospheric qualities of intellectual and orthodox ferment. Indeed, he chaired an energetic weekly forum which attracted 200-300 people to each meeting.
When, perhaps inevitably, the costs of assimilation and integration resulted in the major emigrations east to Ilford/Redbridge, and north to Stamford Hill/Golders Green, it began to reflect noticeably in the dwindling numbers of those staying behind. Then the emotional realities and practicalities required adjustment (eg spiritual provision for the survivors).
Meanwhile, the next wave of immigrants were already discovering the joys of Whitechapel, re-interpreting its streets and passageways into their cultural norms, informed by their own roots. It would take a number of years until they, too, would feel it to be their ‘Mecca’. Yet they too in their turn, will feel the pain of change, of integration, and the loss of a way of life.
The special flavour of the poetic photographs by Stencl presents that overlap, that superimposing of one fading montage on a new tapestry hung upon the same wall. This, I believe, is the universalism which floats above all civilisations, and culture, and peoples in a dynamic world of change.

Chaim Neslen

photo © Miriam Stencl Becker