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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in England 03: 1800-1881

Napoleon and Jewish emancipation movement blocked by the Lords - oath and Rothschild case - complete emancipation since 1890 - community developments and new associations - cultural developments

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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-- History; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, Vol. 8
-- England; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 6


(from: History; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, Vol. 8)

In England Jewish emancipation was completed through a struggle for the abolition of Christian formulas in (col. 714)

the oath upon taking a seat in parliament or entering public office. Radical opinion in England was much more prepared for the grant of full religious equality than in France. The Welsh philosopher Richard Price criticized paragraph 10 of the French "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" of 1789 because of its rider to religious equality - "provided his avowal of them does not disturb the public order established by the law". In his view this was mistaken:

"For it is obvious that in Turkey, writing against Mahomet; in Spain, against the Inquisition; and in every country, against its established doctrines, is a disturbance of public order established by law; and therefore, according to this article, punishable."

He would have enacted the right of man

"also to discuss freely by speaking, writing, and publishing all speculative points, provided he does not by and overt act or direct invasion of the rights of others ... "(from his appendix to "A Discourse on the Love of Our Country", 1789).

This historical tradition of the recognition of separate entities as equal, and not of individuals only, was to find expression in the whole approach to the "Jewish Question" in England as well as in the United States. When the historian *Macaulay rose in 1833 to support the proposal to abolish Jewish disabilities he based his case not only on actual situations and abstract principles but also to a large degree on the glorious Jewish past which guarantees a great future for the Jews as emancipated citizens in any state (see also *Apologetics). He did not demand of Jews that they should give up their messianic belief. He equated it with the Christian millenarian belief in the coming redemption. When at last Lionel Nathan *Rothschild was enabled to take his seat in Parliament in 1858 as a professing Jew, the struggle for Jewish emancipation in England closed in accordance with principles laid down long ago by sectarian forces and ideals.> (col. 715)

The 19th Century.
(from: England; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 6)

[Napoleonic times - Goldsmid and Rothschild - Jewish emancipation movement - the Lords block the emancipation in the Parliament - oath modification - Rothschild case]

The Napoleonic Wars marked an epoch in the history of the Jews in England. Ashkenazi families, notably the *Goldsmids and *Rothschilds, began to occupy an increasingly important place in English finance and society. A generation of native-born Jews had meanwhile grown up, who were stimulated by the example of Jewish emancipation in France and elsewhere to desire similar rights for themselves.

The civic and political disabilities from which they suffered did not in fact amount to very much, for they had enjoyed a great measure of social emancipation almost from the beginning, and commercial restrictions were confined to a few galling limitations in the city of London.

In 1829, on the triumph of the movement for Catholic emancipation, agitation began for similar legislation on behalf of the Jews. It was championed in the Commons by Robert Grant and Thomas Babbington (col. 755)

*Macaulay, the great Whig historian, and in the Lords by the Duke of Sussex, son of George III, a keen Hebraist. On its second introduction in 1833, the Jewish Emancipation Bill was passed by the recently reformed House of Commons, but it was consistently rejected by the Lords in one session after the other. Meanwhile, the Jews were admitted to the office of sheriff (1835) and other municipal offices (1845). Minor disabilities were removed by the Religious Opinions Relief Bill (1846), which left their exclusion from Parliament th only serious grievance of which the English Jews could complain.

Lionel de *Rothschild was elected by the city of London as its parliamentary representative time after time from 1847, but the continued opposition of the Lords blocked the legislation which could have enabled him to take the required oaths. In 1858, however, a compromise was reached, and each house of Parliament was allowed to settle its own form of oath. In 1885 Nathaniel de *Rothschild (Lionel's son) was raised to the peerage the first professing Jews to receive that honor.

[Emancipation completed step by step up to 1890]

The example of Benjamin *Disraeli, one of the most brilliant of modern English statesmen, who made no effort to disguise his Jewish origin and sympathies, did much to improve the general social and political position of the Jews. Sir George *Jessel was made solicitor general in 1871, and several Jews subsequently received government appointments. Herbert (later Viscount) *Samuel became a cabinet minister in 1909. Sir David *Salomons, who had been the first Jewish sheriff in 1835 and the first Jewish alderman in 1847, became lord mayor of London in 1855 - a position in which several Jews have since followed him.

In 1890 religious restrictions on virtually every political position and dignity were removed and Jewish emancipation became complete.

[Jewish Community life 1800-1900]

Considerable changes had meanwhile been taking place within the community. There was a gradual movement toward greater cohesion. The Sephard community had to yield pride of place to the Ashkenazim before the end of the 18th century. Solomon *Hirschel, son of R. Hirschel *Lewin (Hart Lyon) was appointed rabbi of the Great Synagogue in London in 1802, in succession to David Tevele *Schiff of Frankfort. His authority was recognized by the other Ashkenazi congregations in London, who were induced by him to enter into a closer union. His successor, Nathan Marcus *Adler, who was elected to office by the delegates of the London congregations in association with those of the major provincial communities, may be considered the first chief rabbi.

The extension of his authority is indicated in the Laws and Regulations for all the Synagogues in the British Empire which he issued in 1847. He was followed as chief rabbi in 1891 by his son, Hermann *Adler, who had been acting as his father's delegate for some years. He was succeeded by Joseph Herman *Hertz.


[English Jewry feels obliged to protect the Jews worldwide - Foundation of Jewish associations in England]

During the 19th century Anglo-Jewry took the lead in measures for the protection of the Jews and the amelioration of their position in every part of the world. In this they were assured of the assistance of the British government, which was now identified with a strikingly protective policy toward the Jews, especially of Palestine and the Muslim countries of the Middle East - partly because of the absence of closely allied Christian bodies on whose behalf the exertion of political influence could ostensibly be based, as was the case with the rival Russian and French governments. The Board of Deputies increased in scope of activity and in importance.

Sir Moses *Montefiore, backed up by the British government, acted as the ambassador for the whole of Jewry, in the event of persecution, from the *Damascus Affair of 1840 onward.

In 1871 the *Anglo-Jewish Association was founded to collaborate in the work of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle, prejudiced (col. 756)

by the enmities aroused through the Franco-Prussian War; and in 1878 the Joint (Conjoint) Foreign Committee, which it formed in conjunction with the Board of Deputies, came into being as an agency for safeguarding Jewish interests abroad.

[Jewish institutions: Newspapers, schools, synagogues]

The *Jewish Chronicle, the first permanent Anglo-Jewish periodical (now the oldest continuing Jewish publication in the world), was established in 1841. In 1855 *Jews' College was founded in London - the first theological seminary for the training of Anglo-Jewish ministers of religion. It was followed four years later by the Jewish Board of Guardians (since 1964 known as the Jewish Welfare Board), a model London organization for the relief of the poor, which was widely imitated in provincial centers. The loose union for certain charitable and other purposes of the Ashkenazi synagogues in London, which had been in existence since the beginning of the century, became consolidated in 1870 by the establishment, under authority of an act of Parliament, of the United Synagogue which is today one of the most powerful Jewish religious organizations of its sort in the world.

[19th century: growth of the Jewish communities by industrialization - German and Levant Jews coming]

The basis of the community had meanwhile been broadening, though it remained overwhelmingly centered in London. The industrial developments of the 19th century led to a widening of the area of Jewish settlement, important communities based largely on German immigration being formed or expanded in provincial centers such as Manchester, *Bradford, etc. All were Ashkenazi, except at Manchester, where a Sephardi community was also organized in the second half of the century, mostly composed of newcomers from the Levant [[Middle East]].> (col. 757)


[English Jews as scholars - Hebrew printings - English Jews in literature, arts and in Parliament]

The most eminent Jewish scholars associated with England have been immigrants from abroad, such as David *Nieto, Ephraim *Luzzatto, Michael *Friedlaender, Solomon *Schechter, and Adolf *Buechler. The most eminent native-born scholars have been humanists rather than talmudists, such as David *Levi, an able polemicist and translator of the liturgy, and (in more recent years) Israel *Abrahams, H.M.J. *Loewe, and C.G. Montefiore.

On the other hand, through the building up of the superb collections of Hebrew printed books and manuscripts at the British Museum, the *Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the Library of the University of Cambridge (the last predominating in the *Genizah Mss.), England has become in many ways the mecca of the Jewish student throughout the world.

The *Disraelis, father and son, are noteworthy figures in the English literature of the 19th century. Grace *Aguilar and Amy *Levy are among the earliest names in a series of Anglo-Jewish novelists which culminated with Israel *Zangwill, Louis *Golding, etc. Joseph *Jacobs was an eminent figure in English as well as in Jewish letters.

Sir Sidney *Lee, editor of the Dictionary of National Biography and the foremost Shakespearian scholar of his day, and Sir Israel *Gollancz, secretary of the British Academy, illustrated the Jewish contribution to English literary studies.

In art, Simeon *Solomon, Solomon J. *Solomon, Sir Jacob *Epstein, and Sir William *Rothenstein were notable figures. Sir Landon *Ronald occupied an important position in the world of music. Alfred *Sutro was among the most popular English dramatists of the Edwardian era, while in the middle of the 20th century Arnold *Wesker, Harold *Pinter, Wolf *Mankowitz, Peter *Shaffer and others have attracted considerable attention.

In politics, the Jewish representation in Parliament is considerable. Jews have been identified with all parties (since World War II, especially the Labor Party), and individuals have risen to high rank under governments of every complexion.

[C.R.]> (col. 758)

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History; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, Vol. 8, col.714,715
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Jews in England,
                          vol.6, col. 755-756
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Jews in England, vol.6, col. 755-756
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Jews in England,
                          vol.6, col. 757-758
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Jews in England, vol.6, col. 757-758