Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ELI MARK - 1876-1961


Eli and Israel Mark, looking alike as peas in a pod, were born in Lithuania in 1876 and emigrated to Manchester, England, where each of them married. Israel and Kate Cohen married in 1899 and ultimately came to America in 1910. Eli married Dora Hoffman in 1902 and they never left Manchester. This is the story of Eli, as written by a man who knew him and sent to me in 1989.

I have known Eli Mark virtually all my life; he commenced to work for my father in about 1936. Before that he had been employed by C. Cohen & Co., cutting their cap peaks for the gent's cap-manufacturing industry. But due to a recession in their business he became unemployed. Part of my father's business was the supply of the same cap peaks in the various cap manufacturers in the UK. Eli worked with us from that time right up until his retirement which was a period of about over 30 years, which covered the second world war as well.

Eli Mark was a most highly respected man here in the Jewish community in Manchester. He left Lithuania before the turn of the century and emigrated first to the UK...then left for South Africa about the time of the Boer war and was returned back to this country as an undesirable immigrant to South Africa.... He was active in various social and charitable organizations all his life. As a young man he was a member of Manchester Wheelers, which is an amateur road cycling club in the area. This was quite unique for a young Jewish man, as it wasn't the kind of activity that Jewish men participated in at the time....

Now I first met him as a young child when I went to visit my father's business, and we moved our factory from part of the center of Manchester out to the outskirts, and Eli moved with us. This was in 1939 and we hadn't been away from the old factory six months when it was completely flattened in the first Christmas blitz of the Second World War. Throughout the whole of the war he, along with my father and my uncle, provided the necessary fire watching cover at night in case incendiaries were dropped by the German airplanes to set fire to the premises, and I enclose herewith a photograph which was taken at the end of the war which shows my father in the middle and Eli Mark at the right hand side, front row. As a matter of interest the young boy in the photograph in the Red Cross uniform is myself. I was part of the detachment at the Jewish hospital.

He had a special interest in an organization founded to promote a Jewish hospital in Manchester. He was amongst the first of those who felt that the idea was a very good one, the reason for setting up a "Jewish" hospital was to enable people who had to go into hospital to have a) the facilities of Kosher food and b) the employment of Jewish nurses and medical staff. At first it was very strongly resisted by the Jewish establishment of the city, who felt that the idea of a Jewish hospital, with Jewish pills and Jewish medicine would not be conducive to combating possible antisemitic feeling amongst the general community. However, Eli Mark and his opinions prevailed and the organisation was set up and established under the name of the Manchester Victoria Memorial Jewish Hospital. The hospital has been operative right throughout the period since its formaton at the beginning of the century up until I think the last couple of years, when reorganisation of the British National Health Service was such that I think the hospital is now closed or in the process of being closed.

Eli Mark was most meticulous in his work. He had the keys of our factory and he opened it in the morning and he locked it at night. There was no question of him doing anything other than checking that everything was secure. He was a charming gentleman who always wore wing-collared shirts and a tie; he never wore a soft collar. I asked him about this on numerous occasions and he said that he felt much more comfortable in wing collars than an ordinary collar. Eventually he had to retire because of his age.

I trust that the information I have been able to give you has been of interest and assistance to you. There can be no doubt about it that your relative, Mr. Eli Mark, was a man of whom you can be truly proud and the man that I was only too delighted and honored to have had as a friend and teacher.

With my kind regards, A. P. Marsh.

NOTE: When Eli Mark was 82, he was featured in a newspaper article:

The hospital has, in fact, been closed down, and the plaque that says in part "This bed is named in appreciation of the services of Eli Mark..." now belongs to his great-grandson Robin Pollock.

Eli Mark was the twin brother of my husband's grandfather, Israel Mark.

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