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A Survey of the Jewish Institutional History of Liverpool and District: Presidential Address

Bertram B. Benas

<plain_text><page sequence="1">A Survey of the Jewish Institutional History of Liverpool and District1 By Bertram B. Benas, B.A., LL.M. IN order to obtain a perspective of the Jewish history of Liverpool and District, it is desirable to glance at the general history of the locality. Liverpool was granted its charter as far back as the reign of King John, but it is, in reality, an essentially modern city. The Jewish history of the district, so far as an organised entity can be traced, dates from approximately 1750, and this date coincides with the movement towards the city's present status, as one of the greatest of the country. Through the quiet centuries before the industrial revolution a small scattered population won a poor livelihood from agricultural pursuits and a little fishing ... Its own burgesses described it to Elizabeth as "Her Majesty's poor decayed town." But it was gradually re? quiring some significance as the port of arrival and departure for Ireland, and early in the 16th century, wool was being imported from that country by way of Liverpool, to be sold, spun, and woven at Manchester. By the middle of the 17th century, it had attained the distinction of being referred to as "The prime haven in all the countie." The Irish trade increased, and in the 18th century, another source of temporary profit arose in the African Slave Trade . . . and with the dawn of the industrial era proceeded to prosper . . . When the American planters determined to try to meet the profitable Lancashire demand for cotton they looked to Liverpool ... the port began to grow and prosper.2 It was at this period that the Jewish inhabitants formed themselves into an organised group. This group is believed to have consisted predominantly, if not entirely, of Sephardi Jews of Mediterranean origin, who were on their way to the New World, but, for some reason or other, decided to remain at the frontier town of the Old World, and settle in Liverpool. It probably included also migrants on their way to Ireland who decided at the last moment not to take the voyage?a venture of some discomfort in those days, an element which may well have induced the intending voyagers to America to take a similar course. This would seem to explain the beginnings of Liverpool's first synagogue in Cumberland Street with its associated cemetery. The site adjoins what is now the Head Post Office of Liverpool. Further confirmatory evidence of the existence of an organised Jewish entity in Liverpool prior to the foundation of the Old Hebrew Congregation is afforded by a peculiar work, copies of which are rare but one of which has come into the hands of the present writer, entitled Sepherah Shelosh "sent to some dispersed, but well-advised Jews now resident at Liverpool, in Lancashire." The author is one J. Willme, and it was published in London, printed for the author in the year 1756. The first letter has the prefatory sentence :?"Directed to the learned Rabbi of the Jewish Synagogue in Liverpool. . ." Too much importance need not be attached to the use of the term "Rabbi," for not only, as is well known, is that title indiscriminately applied by many non-Jews, and not a few Jews, to any Jewish ecclesiastic, but it is on record that the first Jewish ministrant to the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation at the time of its 1 Presidential address delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England, on 14th November, 1951. a "The Future of South West Lancashire," pp. 14-15. The University Press of Liverpool, 1931. d 23</page><page sequence="2">24 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT foundation was described in the contemporary Liverpool Directory as "Jews' High Priest." However, mention of the synagogue is much more substantial, for although it may not have been a structure of any architectural moment, its existence in Cumberland Street has been shown by the testimony referred to in my father's "Records of the Jews in Liverpool" and mentioned in my "Later Records of the Jews in Liverpool," (infra). Sepherah Shelosh is noted in "The Rise of Provincial Jewry" by Mr. Cecil Roth (p. 82) and the present writer owes his acquisition of a copy of the book to his attention being drawn thereto by a colleague on the Council of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Mr. J. E. Allison, who discovered it in a local book shop. It should be borne in mind that the first Liverpool Directory did not appear before 1766 and during the decade between the publication of the work above described and that of the first Liverpool Directory, which contains neither reference to a synagogue nor to a rabbi, the earliest Jewish congregation in Liverpool had faded out of existence. J. Willme "was of the family of Willme, of Martin's Croft near War rington, from which place the Letters above named are dated." (Fishwick, "The Lancashire Library" p. 103.) The Sephardi character of the primitive Liverpool Congregation has been questioned, but apart from the recognition of the existence of one at this stage by well established oral tradition, the fact of the existence of such a synagogue in Cumberland Street, as well as that of the cemetery contiguous thereto, is no longer a matter of doubt, although at the end of the eighteenth century the first Ashkenazi congregation, the progenitor of the present Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation, had no knowledge of it. The later discovery of the tombstones in the cemetery speaks for itself. It is known that some at least of the members of the families who formed the congregation migrated to the West Indies, where they found many Sephardi kinsfolk, the prospects of better trade attracting them to the British possessions overseas. It is noteworthy that the Liverpool Directory of 1790, by which date the Ashkenazi Congregation of 1780 had become well established, contained nineteen identifiable Jewish residents. Three of these bore indubitable Sephardi names, at a time when it is admitted that the Cumberland Street Congregation had dissolved. It would have been surprising if the earliest congregation did not include at least a number of Sephardim. The Dublin link with Liverpool has always been active, and the Dublin community is generally regarded as having been originally founded by ex-Marranos. It may well be that those three Sephardim of the 1790 Directory may have come to Liverpool intending to join their fellow-Sephardim in Dublin, but stopped short at Liverpool. Mr. Cecil Roth, in his section on Dublin in "The rise of Provincial Jewry," observes that in Dublin the Sephardi element died out, being succeeded by Ashkenazi.1 A Sephardi Congregation was re-established in 1892 in a house in Great Newton Street, and subsequently removed to Bedford Street. The majority were oriental Jews who had arrived shortly before. The congregation remained in being till the First World War, when the fact that most of the congregants were Ottoman subjects forced their removal from the prohibited area of Liverpool. The disappearance of this second Sephardi settlement reminds one of the fate of the first Jewish Congregation in Liverpool. The 1780 congregation has continued to the present day, although its synagogues have varied in locality. It is, however, not proposed to consider at any length the inner 1 "The Rise of Provincial Jewry" p. 56. (The Jewish Monthly, London). It is remarkable that the Sephardi element in Dublin and Liverpool disappeared almost contemporaneously.</page><page sequence="3">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 25 history of congregational development. This has been narrated in several published accounts.1 The standpoint adopted in this survey is that of historiography viewed in its sociological aspect, a line of historical envisagement which has much current support for its adoption. History, Lord Radcliffe, inhis Reith lectures (1951) showed, is as much a History of Man's ideas as of his actions. The foundations and the nature of the units will be described in order to show the trend of the evolution of the Jewry of Liverpool and District, and the individuality of the community which, notwithstanding inevitable changes of constituent elements, has preserved a characteristic corporate personality with an identifiably Anglo-Jewish setting. Two hundred years of Jewish life in Liver? pool have just been completed, and it may be confidently asserted that never in its two centuries of existence has there been a more rapid metamorphosis than that which has taken place within the last fifteen years. This then would seem to be the appropriate time for a survey of the whole period from the approximate date of the first organisation to the completion of its second century, and for a presentation of some synthesis of the available historical material. Local Jewish history, like all local history, is after all the constituent element of the large canvas of the history of the country, with the added significance of its part in the still larger canvas of Jewish history as a whole. Nor should the importance of contemporary history in this behalf be under-emphasised.2 A writer in The Times (June 5th 1948) in an article "The Passing Moment," aptly observed, "The Moment that is called 'Now' is always slipping into history, and the moment that was hidden in the future is always breaking upon us clamouring to be dealt with." Liverpool Jewish history has a significance of a special value for Anglo Jewry, inasmuch as not only has it evinced a pioneership in many spheres of Jewish institutional life, but also in so far as its evolution serves as a kind of barometer of the mentality of the Anglo-Jewry of the day, although sometimes boldly ahead of the rest of Anglo-Jewry, at others awaiting the progress of events before registering a change. The record of the community's synagogual buildings may be briefly stated. The Cumberland Street Synagogue, already mentioned, may be approximately dated 1750. In 1780, the beginnings of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation, as referred to, were established in Turton Court, near the old Custom House, which like Turton Court, no longer exists, the site abutting on Canning Place. The business world in Liverpool in those days was centred around this district, leaning a little towards the south end of the then Borough, and it was in this locality that not only did local Jewry carry on its business, but also resided more often than not on the business premises. In 1789, the next move was to Frederick Street, which lay in the vicinity of Turton Court, but in somewhat to the south. The Frederick Street premises contained a complete congregational equipment including a ritual bath and a burial ground. Turton Court would appear to have consisted of little more than a Minyan room, for a cemetery 1 See "Records of the Jews of Liverpool," by B. L. Benas, Trans, of the Historic Soc. of Lancashire and Cheshire, Vol. 51, p. 45 (1901); "Later Records of the Jews in Liverpool," by the present writer, Trans, of the Historic Soc. of Lancashire and Cheshire, Vol. 80 p. 150 (1928); also "The History of the Liverpool Jewish Community," The Jewish World, Aug. 1877, written anonymously but from the pen of the late B. L. Benas ; by the same writer, "The Evolution of Literary Efforts in Liverpool Jewry," The Jewish Chronicle, 1906 and CtI Iope Place in Liver? pool Jewry," by Philip Ettinger, (Liverpool : T. Lyon and Co., 1930). 2 Lord Acton in his memorable lecture on "The Study of History" observed, "History made, and History making are scientifically inseparable, and separately unmeaning." (P.2). He cites in support the statement of Sir John Seeley in his "Lectures and Essays," (P.306), that contemporary history is, in Dr. Arnold's opinion, more important than either ancient or modern; and "in fact, superior to it by all superiority of end to the means."</page><page sequence="4">26 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT a piece of ground in Bold Street opposite Newington was available, but in the short period of the Turton Court Synagogue's existence, before the transfer to Frederick Street, no need arose to bring it into use.1 The next move was to Seel Street further up town, close to Bold Street, again slightly leaning towards the southern half of Liverpool. This was the first structure of some architectual distinctiveness as a synagogue building in Liverpool and dates from 1807. In 1838, the first secession took place, and a congregation was formed, which in 1857 opened the synagogue in Hope Place, built especially for the congregation. Its earliest existence as a congregation found expression, it appears, in a large house situated at 46 Hanover Street, at right angles to Bold Street, where, on the ground floor, the Divine Services of this new entity are said to have taken place.2 In 1842, the immediate forerunner of the Hope Place building was established at the corner of Pilgrim Street and Hardman Street, a few yards from Hope Place, the building of which is still substantially existent, but with an entrance from Hardman Street, and since the opening of the Hope Place synagogue, no longer in Jewish hands. In 1874, the Old Hebrew Congregation removed to a site in Princes Road, adjoining the com? mencement of the Princes Boulevard, and there was built for the congregation what has been regarded as one of the finest synagogue edifices in the country, if not in the world. Until 1888, the subsequent congregational developments in Liverpool found expression in the establishment of several Minyanim or chevras, for the most part in the neighbourhood of Brownlow Hill and London Road, to which area there gravitated the growing settlement of Jewish people from Central and Eastern Europe, who not only desired to have a place of worship near to their businesses and residences, often combined, but also to attend services of a kind more in keeping with those to which they were accustomed in their former homes. It should be noted, and it is a matter of no slight importance in the endeavour to form a true estimate of the character of the several entities, that the differentiation was not based sharply on the footing of Anglo-Jewry and Jewry from abroad, but the actual nature of the services and the fellowship with which they were associated, for there were Minyanim of Mitnagdim (adherents of the general type of orthodox service) and Chassidim (those following a liturgy based on that of the Sephardim and with a spiritual philosophy of its own kind) and what emphasises the point still more strongly, even among the Chassidic entities there were variants of ritual which resulted in the establishment of separate entities. The history of the evolution of these several Chevras into congregational bodies, nurseries of great movements and developments in local Jewish life, has been dealt with in detail in "Later Records of the Jews in Liverpool," by the present writer, and it is not proposed here to cover the same ground.3 The foundation of the Fountains Road Synagogue in Kirkdale in 1888 was note? worthy for more than one reason?the motive for its establishment was entirely geo? graphical, and had no liturgical or group associations other than that of residence in 1 For a consideration of this question see Appendix III of the present writer's "Later Records of the Jews in Liverpool," and the footnote on p. 106 of Dr. Thorn's "Liverpool Churches and Chapels" therein referred to. 2 See Ettinger, "Hope Place in Liverpool Jewry." p. 29. 3 One of the oldest surviving, the Chevra Ayin Jacob opened in 1876 in West Derby Street and removing some thirty years later to two houses, 67-69 Crown Street, was dissolved in 1950. It was in frequent use for daily services by business men by reason of its situation and its reputation for strict punctuality. Minyan and Chevra in these contexts may be regarded as the equivalents of a Bethel.</page><page sequence="5">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 27 the neighbourhood with local business interests, a neighbourhood, too, far from the centre of Liverpool where the many Chevras were situate, and still further from the then existing larger synagogues. The other point to note is that it was the first Jewish congregational establishment in Liverpool which took over a non-Jewish place of worship, and converted it for the purposes of a synagogue, a method which was successfully followed in the case of the Crown Street Beth Hamedrash, Russell Street, Islington, Shaw Street, Grove Street, Walnut Street and Wallasey Congregations, some of the buildings being of very considerable extent. One further point is especially worthy of mention, the congregation when about to be formed rented the property upon an annual tenancy, but after six months' occupancy, received notice to quit. A local authority desiring the property as a Public Vaccination Centre, the members of the congregation placed themselves upon the suffrage of their neighbours, an early illustration of local option. A petition was prepared, and over a thousand signatures obtained for a prayer that the synagogue would remain undisturbed. The signatories were of course, non-Jewish as well as Jewish, as the Jewish residents in the locality were far below the number of signatories, but it is of equal significance that the Local Authority agreed to forego its proposed acquisition, and the congregation became the owners by virtue of a conveyance from the Local Authority, which had already acquired the property. The attitude of the Local Authority and the non-Jewish inhabitants is a typical illustration of that which has been a characteristic manifesting itself in Liverpool from the earliest days of the Jewish settlement, a characteristic which was made the subject of an historic observation of John Wesley. So far as I am aware, this first came to light in writings devoted to Jewish local history in the Presidential address delivered to the Liverpool Jewish Literary Society by my late father, "The Evolution of Literary Efforts in Liverpool Jewry." In that address he observed:? Since 1882 with traditional Liverpool Jewry, the old order is passing away, and giving place to the new. The terrible afflictions ... in Eastern Europe, and the . . . wave of new settlers are responsible for the change. We are face to face with new problems, new vistas and new responsibilities, of which our fathers and grandfathers knew nothing. Yet I venture to hope the younger and newer generation will not think unkindly of those that went before them, and who laid the beams and foundations of our Liverpool Jewish corporate existence. For in olden times we were always a law-abiding, orderly and respected community. See what John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, says of us in his Wesley's Journal of April 14th, 1755, more than one hundred and fifty years ago. "I went on to Liverpool, one of the neatest, best built towns I have seen in England. I think it is full twice as large as Chester ?most of the streets are quite straight. Two-thirds of the town, we were informed, have been added this forty years. If it continue to increase in the same proportion in forty years more, it will nearly equal Bristol. The people in general are most mild and courteous I ever saw in a seaport town, as indeed appears by their friendly behaviour, not only to the Jews and Papists who live among them, but even to the Methodists' so called." Such was the information given us by the great religious leader of a former century, of those early, mostly Sephardi, Jews who worshipped in the little cottage with a garden attached for use as a cemetery at the corner of Cumberland Street in the rear of the General Post Office of Liverpool. Unlike the subsequent Minyan room of the Ashkenazi and Polish Jews in Turton Court?the very street of which is obliterated?the identical street corner, with its narrow passage is still there. It is there that our forebears unrolled the first scroll of the Law?you can see the site marked down in the old map of Liverpool, If any of us</page><page sequence="6">28 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT have to pay a passing call at the General Post Office, and have at the time a retrospective and thoughtful moment of pious reflection, let him not forget the pioneers of early Jewry who won the respect of the Christian community in the far back days of John Wesley. One of the causes of the independent character of Jewish Liverpool was due to its isolation from the Metropolis. Another, however, was that in early days there never was a Ghetto, or a self-imposed Ghetto in our city. The Jews lived everywhere, not only of the people, but with the people. With the gregarious disposition of the Jews of Eastern Europe . . . this old time tendency of dispersion, has, within the last twenty-five years,1 been reversed, and now for the first time in our local history, we have self-imposed Ghettos of which we knew nothing in our early days. These observations of my father help to demarcate periods of local Jewish history, each of which has certain main characteristics. We may count them rather by the influences which resulted in the establishment of particular institutions, than by actual dates of the opening of the buildings which housed them. The first period my father aptly described as the proem before the genesis of the congregational communities of to-day. This was the period approximately from 1750, the dawn, to the sunset of, as I submit, the mainly Sephardi entity in Cumberland Street. The second period can be dated from 1780, the foundation of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation in Turton Court. The third period can be dated from 1882, when the pogroms in the old Russian Empire led to the very considerable settlement of refugees in this country, including Liverpool, but this period, that of the genesis of the era when in its later stages several new congregations were formed, had a proem of its own. Quoting from "Later Records of the Jews in Liverpool,"2 "The proem period of the Minyan in Liverpool appears to commence in the early 70's." It is never to be regarded as impossible in the light of local Jewish history that the Chevra of to-day may well become the parent of a synagogue in the future. That proem itself had a kind of pre-proem by a few years with Minyanim of a private nature, but 1870 marks the date of the more formal movement leading to the institution of entities which have had their successors in some of the newer synagogue establishments of later date. The fourth period can be dated from the opening of the Greenbank Drive Synagogue in 1937, the successor of the old Hope Place Hebrew Congregation (whose former official title was the Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation), and the Sefton Park Hebrew Congregation, whose establishment in 1928 followed a two years earlier inauguration of the Sefton Park Hebrew and Religion Classes, subsequently meeting in the one building in Smithdown Road. In my "Later Records," I ventured to have observed in 1928 that it may be regarded as an outpost of further Jewish Communal development in the Sefton Park District.3 The proem of this period saw in 1925 the establishment of the Fairfield Congregation, a house in Laurel Road being adapted for congregational use, this being the first synagogue in East Liverpool. The fourth period may be regarded as still subsisting, for any subse? quent developments, and there have been several of importance, are simply developments of a centrifugal movement which had its earliest precursor in the Fountains Road Syna? gogue, Kirkdale, but which never reached further movement till the proem of the present period in 1925. The later manifestations are to be seen in the foundation of the Childwall Congregation in 1935, and its synagogue consecrated in 1938. Childwall 1 Written in 1906. There has been much change since then, but the gregarious principle referred to has been maintained, the localities being spread further afield, 2 Trans. Hist. Soc. Lanes, and Chesh., Vol. 80. p. 159, 8 Ibid., p. 180,</page><page sequence="7">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 29 was until recent years not onl} outside the City boundary, but quite open country. It rapidly developed into a suburban area. Lying still further outward from the Green bank Drive Synagogue, and within two miles therefrom, it was thought at first by some, that such k synagogue was redundant, but events have justified those who thought otherwise, for it must be borne in mind that its worshippers do not all come from localities between the two points, but from urban developments still further away approaching Childwall from opposite directions. The Crosby Congregation's synagogue, in the most northerly borough of Merseyside, was consecrated in 1950, and is in the central portion of that town. Crosby is the name of an historic Manor in that district, giving its title now to a Borough including several urban districts, with one of its boundaries the Irish Sea, and another the contiguous Borough of Bootle which is Liver? pool's immediately northern neighbour. There is, however, continuity of urban character straight from Liverpool to the countryside on the northern boundary of Crosby. On the Lancashire side of the Mersey, another development is the formation of a congrega? tional entity at Huyton, a suburb slightly to the north-east boundary of Liverpool, but in direct urban continuity. Crosby and Huyton are new foundations, while the most recent of all, now established in its new quarters, is that of a small congregation which had its first synagogue building in Walnut Street, close to Brownlow Hill, an entity deriving from a Chevra in Devon Street in the old Jewish quarter, whose next move after Walnut Street was to Arundel Avenue, Sefton Park, and now re-established in that portion of Ullet Road close to its junction with Smithdown Road. Childwall, Crosby and Huyton, like Kirkdale and Fairfield, are congregational entities, based on geographical requirements, the Ullet Road congregation represents a hark-back to the earlier movements of the seventies and eighties, whose places of worship, although of greater convenience to the residents in the old Jewish quarter, as contrasted with the Old and New Hebrew Congregations, owed much of their origination to the desire for a form of service and congregational amenities more in keeping with the conditions familiar to those hailing from the former countries of the worshippers. The newer entities of Greenbank and Childwall evince, too, a trend of outlook, which in a current form, go back to the old envisagement of a synagogue as being not only a house of prayer, but also a place of assembly, and they contain capacious halls capable of being used for both educational and social purposes, on a smaller scale this applies also to the units at Fairfield and Crosby. The Cheshire side of the river, the Wirral Peninsula, contains three congregational units, Birkenhead, the centre Borough, Wallasey the northern Borough, and the beginnings of a congregational entity in Hoylake, on the north westerly point of the Peninsula facing the Irish Sea. The Birkenhead congregation was founded in 1889, while the beginnings of that of Wallasey in 1909, grew from a Minyan together with a Cheder1 when in 1911, the year of incorporation of the Borough it acquired a non-Jewish place of worship and converted it into a synagogue. Hoylake Jewry worships in a hall of the British Women's Temperance Association at the extreme east of Hoylake proper, where it continues into the area known as Meols. It has regular services and teaching facilities. Hoylake is entirely a residential area with quick transit to Liverpool by electric train. These are the various congregational units constituting the synagogal institutions of Merseyside, in the usual connotation of the term, which strictly cannot be said to include Southport, some twenty miles away, notwithstanding several Liverpool associations. 1 Classroom for teaching,</page><page sequence="8">30 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT Parallel with this synagogal development, there 1 as been an abundant institutional equipment of an educational, philanthropic, cultural and representative character. These in their methods and outlook have reflected the personality and mentality of the contemporary Jewry of their day, always bearing in mind that Liverpool Jewry has been remarkable for its pioneering in many spheres of Jewish co-operative endeavour. The earliest Jewish "charitable" organisations, were inspired by the traditional Jewish attitude of mind in this behalf, as perhaps can be testified by the title of the first to be founded, the Liverpool Hebrew Philanthropic Society, in 1811, one of the pioneers in Anglo-Jewish co-operative philanthrophic endeavours. The same note was carried over to the first Jewish women's organisation, the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society, founded in 1849, and was sounded again the following year in the estabhshment of the Liverpool Hebrew Provident Society, the objects of which were much akin to the Philanthropic Society. These and some others, to be mentioned later in the scholastic sphere, were typically Anglo-Jewish bodies, English in their systematic approach while Jewish in envisagement of the form of action. There grew up, however, a tendency to adopt the normal English terms, and so we have ante-rooms of synagogues designated as Vestry, general committees of synagogues called Select Committees, a comprehensive benevolent institution denominated Board of Guardians, and it would appear that the terms Senior Warden and Junior Warden in synagogues derive from one of the general fraternal guilds. The Board of Guardians for the relief of the Jewish poor in Liverpool was constituted on the 7th May, 1876, following a preUminary meeting on the 28th November, 1875. Generally speaking, its objects were to co-ordinate the charitable activities of individual members of the congregations, in the relief of the needy, more especially those outside the scope of the previously mentioned societies. The Board gradually became the most comprehensive body of its kind in the City. In 1874 there existed a "Society for Visiting and Aiding the Sick," but its career was short, and it was not until the 6th January, 1884, that a conjoint committee of representatives of Liverpool and Manchester Jewry for the purpose of visiting the Jewish inmates of hospitals, asylums and prisons was inaugurated, after a preUminary meeting of the previous year to formulate the scheme. In 1903, the committee was reconstituted on the basis of separate committees for each city. The oldest Jewish educational institution in Liverpool bears the title, Liverpool Hebrews Educational Institution and Endowed Schools. For the Jewish community it was the counterpart of the Church Schools which formed so predominant a feature of educational life under the auspices of the Church of England. Associated with the work of the schools, has been from 1866, the Society for clothing the necessitous boy pupils, and in 1870, the Liverpool Hebrew School Children's Soup Fund was founded. The need for this institution ceased with the municipal provision of school meals. The Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation has associated with it certain charitable trusts, the most outstanding of which is the Eliza Jackson Home in North Hill Street, the counterpart of the many "hospitals" not in the medical, but in the residential sense, which are to be found as frequent features of the Church institutional life of the country. The fund endowing these homes was provided by the family, best known by the Braham Endowments, which played so dom? inant a part in the evolution of the Congregation. The members of the later nineteenth century Orthodox congregational groups both established a parallel set of institutions with their own distinctive administration and filled some undoubted gaps in the communal machinery. Liverpool Jewry has a long record of educational endeavour, The Liverpool</page><page sequence="9">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 31 Hebrews Educational Institution and Endowed Schools were established in 1842 in Slater Street, off Seel Street, in close proximity to the then synagogue of the Old Hebrew Congregation. The buildings they now occupy in Hope Place, adjoining the Synagogue there, were constructed in 1852. This school has been from the outset an elementary or primary school, comparable to the "Voluntary Schools" of the other religious denomin? ations. Its purpose has always been to provide a general secular education together with Jewish religious instruction and the teaching of Hebrew. At different times emphasis has been laid on different aspects. In one of the Annual Reports of the later eighties there appears a reference to the schools as "our Commercial Schools." More lately a tendency to give expression to the more distinctly Jewish aspects of education has been manifested. During the period of considerable immigration from Eastern Europe parents felt some satisfaction in realising that their children were receiving an English education under Jewish auspices, and with Jewish fellow-pupils. The parents were, however, anxious also that they should receive the more intensive and extensive Jewish education which characterised the upbringing of children in the lands from which they came, and this was the principal influence that led to the foundation of the Talmud Torah, in 1894, in premises in Stafford Street, subsequently removing to Great Newton Street, later to Great Orford Street, and ultimately to Bedford Street, all close to the heart of the old Jewish quarter. In 1914 a further development took place in the establishment of the Talmudical College, the Yeshivat Torat Chayim in the premises of the old Shaw Street Synagogue. In December 1917 the college was transferred as an independent establishment to Islington and remained there until 1927, when it acquired a house of its own in Chatham Street. It supplies higher education in Jewish learning, and besides equipping a number of young men who have taken up secular careers, with a good knowledge of Judaism in general and Rabbinics in particular, has a noteworthy record of having been the training ground of many who have attained appointments of importance in the congregational life of Jewry, both in Great Britain and abroad. It is interesting to reflect upon the fact that the congregational developments outward from the Princes Road Synagogue had their origin in an educational venture. As previously shown, in 1926 the Sefton Park Hebrew and Religion Classes were founded, first meeting at the Sefton Park Council Schools, removing in 1928 to premises in Smith down Road, close to the former quarters, the building serving as a local Jewish place of worship, the Sefton Park Hebrew Congregation, which was ultimately absorbed in the Greenbank Drive Congregation. The record of local educational endeavour would be incomplete without mentioning the former Liverpool Hebrew Higher Grade School, a day school giving general education, (a venture originating with a group of supporters from the Order of Ancient Maccabeans), whose outstanding characteristic was the teaching of Hebrew as a living language, under the inspiration of the ideals of Zionism. The Religion Class movement was first developed in Liverpool in the Old Hebrew Congregation, while at a later stage the classes of the Greenbank Drive Con? gregation, amalgamated with those of the former Sefton Park classes, and the later Childwall Congregational classes were wider in scope of syllabus with emphasis upon Hebrew. Zionism, from the genesis of the Zionist Organisation, has always been a vital and powerful force in local Jewry, thriving, if not by contrast aroused, by the strong and strongly entrenched insular elements, which were not merely non-Zionist but anti Zionist. The Movement acquired premises at an early stage with a reading room in</page><page sequence="10">32 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 1896 (ante-dating the first Zionist Congress), in Great Orford Street, later quarters being in Moss Street, subsequently in Islington, West Derby Street, Bedford Street, all more or less close to the old Jewish quarter, but the present Zion House (opened in 1935) is directly opposite the Princes Road Synagogue, which congregation had for many years been distinguished by strong opposition to the Movement as a whole. Liverpool has been the scene of many outstanding Zionist demonstrations, in which many prominent Zionist leaders have participated. The Liverpool Shechita Board was founded in 1897. Hitherto shochetim had been congregationally appointed, but as the Jewish population increased the situation became unsatisfactory in view of the appearance of a number of unauthorised functionaries. The position became even more difficult by the development of local shechita for the supply of meat for London. The Shechita Board thus became one of the most important organisations of its kind in the country. In the previous year the Ritual Baths Com? mittee was formed. Like the Shechita Board it was communal. Its present premises are in Great Newton Street, Brownlow Hill, but it is about to move to Croxteth Grove, Sefton Park. The foundation of a local Rabbinate for Liverpool owes its origin to an attempted revolt against the constituted Central Rabbinical Authority of the Chief Rabbinate and the London Beth Din. The revolt manifested itself in a lawsuit heard in the Liverpool Assizes, and it was realised thereafter that security could best be assured by a local Rabbi (Rav) whose credentials and authority would be recognised by the local Jewry as well as the Chief Rabbinate and London Beth Din. The latter condition was fulfilled from the outset; not so the former, through the abstention of the Old Hebrew Congre? gation, Princes Road. The position of the local Rabbinical Office, from its foundation, has been worthily sustained by its eminent occupants, and its foundation has been more than justified in its results. The constitutional machinery of the local Rabbinical Authority has varied in form, but ultimately the Liverpool and District Rabbi Sustentation Fund has established unity among the whole of Merseyside Orthodox Jewry.1 Burial facilities followed the trend of the period in becoming communal rather than congregational. The first move in this direction was made by the Chevra Kadisha in 1895, when it acquired land at Rice Lane on the Walton-Aintree Road and served all those congregations and other organisations that did not possess cemeteries of their own, as well as unattached subscribers. A similar step was taken by the Liverpool Hebrew Federated Burial Society, supported largely by members of the Jewish friendly societies, when a Jewish Section of the Municipal Cemetery at West Derby was opened in 1927. On the other hand the reversion to the congregational system is represented by the reservation of a portion of the Municipal Cemetery at Allerton for the Liberal Jewish Congregation not long after its foundation; a similar step was taken in the same locality by the Childwall Hebrew Congregation in November 1951. The Jewish Literary movement has its roots far in the past, and its details have been set forth fully in "The Evolution of Literary Efforts in Liverpool Jewry" by the late Baron Benas.2 Throughout its career it has been objectively Jewish and essentially literary, while it has commanded the interest and secured the participation of a number of eminent lecturers, Jewish and non-Jewish. An event of outstanding significance in this respect was the holding in Liverpool, in 1909, of the conference of the Union 1 The Old Hebrew Congregation subsequently joined (1951). * Jewish Chronicle^ Nov.-Dec. 1906. Printed in extenso.</page><page sequence="11">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 33 of Jewish Literary Societies, a body then representing the whole of the Anglo-Jewish Literary Movement. The event received civic recognition, and a reception was held in the Town Hall by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress1 at which leading members of the learned societies of Merseyside were present. It was a form of civic recognition without parallel in the history of local Jewry. In 1913 a similar civic recognition of the Jewish Friendly Society Movement was given by a reception in the Town Hall by the then Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress2 to delegates to a Conference held in Liverpool by one of the leading Orders.3 In 1916 there was founded the Jewish Centre for the maintenance of literary efforts, at No. 6 Princes Road, acquired for the purpose by the family of the late Baron Benas in fulfilment of a wish long cherished by him. For twenty-three years it was the centre of Jewish literary activity, its lectures were held mainly under the auspices of the Liverpool Jewish Literary Society, which made the Centre its home. In 1939 the Jewish Centre was closed, a consequence of the decentral? isation of Liverpool Jewry then growing apace. The Centre had revealed a need and no orthodox congregation in the city has been considered complete without the provision of a hall capable of serving such a purpose. The Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation had at a relatively early stage in its career definitely an Anglo-Jewish consciousness. It inaugurated addresses in the English language in the synagogue as far back as 1806, taking the form of an exposition of the Sidra (the pentateuchal reading). This was delivered from the Almemar or Bima (reading desk). A separate pulpit had not yet found place in the synagogue building. These addresses were continued regularly till 1836, when the first regular appointed minister preacher in English in Anglo-Jewry was installed in the Seel Street Synagogue. This spirit found its culminating practical expression in the bequest of James Braham, a testator with Liverpool family associations who provided for the endowment of two Ministers for the congregation, one styled the Lecturer, and the other the Reader. It was laid down in the will that the incumbents must be born in the United Kingdom of British parents. It is always difficult to fathom the unexpressed motives which impel a testator to make his dispositions. One can only attempt a conjecture. In Braham's case it may have been a certain insular discrimination against fellow-Jews who were not fellow-natives of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, it may have been a desire to encourage those thus qualified to enter the Jewish Ministry, and make Anglo-Jewry more self-supporting than hitherto in this respect. It may have been again a blend of these two notions which found realisation in the desire to ensure that those holding the congregation's ministry would be readily adapted to be interpreters of the Jewish position with equipment in that behalf both within and beyond the bounds of the com? munity itself. In so far as Braham intended to foster the entry into the Ministry of young men thus qualified, the bequest met with little success. After many years of difficulty in securing such candidates, in 1947 a complete deadlock occurred, as notwithstanding persistent search, no qualified candidate could be found. An application to the Court then became necessary. The Court laid down that provided the candidate had been resident ten years in this country, and was practically conversant with the English language and could effectively deliver sermons in English, whether or not qualified by birth or parentage the Congregation would be entitled to appoint him to the Braham Lectureship. 1 H. Chaloner, later His Honour Judge, Dowdall, K.C., and the Hon, Mrs, DowdalL 2 Herbert R. Rathbone and Mrs. Rathbone. * Achei B'rith (Brethren of the Covenant)*</page><page sequence="12">34 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT The relaxation of the Braham provisions synchronised with a change in the personnel of the Old Hebrew Congregation. That had been caused in part by the emergence of a Liberal Jewish movement in Liverpool, which had its origin almost entirely in a, spiritually speaking, left-wing element in the Princes Road Synagogue, an element deriving either by direct succession to or adoption of such old time Anglo-Jewish tradition which had found expression in the early Reform Movement. Liverpool had for long had what its adherents called a "progressive movement," and it had been in the van of such manifestations as the introduction of prayers in English not in substitution for, but in addition to, the traditional Hebrew prayers, an English sermon, and in other respects, and some at least of its preachers were inclined to a broad theology within the bounds of traditional doctrine. The beginnings of Liberalism, however, grew out of a movement to introduce into the Princes Road, liturgy and ritual developments which could not be reconciled with Orthodox practice. The more definite Anglo Jewish elements were finding themselves more and more a minority in the whole com? munity by reason of the gradual Zionising process which the march of the Jewish national movement in this country had fostered. Another element which found this group in the congregation in an isolated position was the developed consciousness of local orthodox Rabbinical Authority, and observers who could read the signs of the times realised that sooner or later a breach would take place, and so it did. Just as the London Liberal Movement began in temporary quarters, so the Liberal Movement in Liverpool began by holding services in the Liverpool Royal Institution, until it reached a stage of development which allowed the then constituted congregation1 ultimately to acquire the Hope Place Synagogue whose congregation moved to its new quarters in Green bank Drive. Its services partook of the left-wing character of the Liberal Movement itself. However, after a time a closer desire for identification with the community as a whole showed itself and co-operation on all grounds other than synagogal and educational is now general. The cohesive movement in Liverpool Jewry did not grow until the First World War, for during that war there was a tendency on the part of the Old Hebrew Congregation still to carry out some philanthropic work on its own. By the time the Second World War commenced, the great welding together of the Community had steadily progressed. The relief work for the refugees from Central and Eastern Europe helped to cement collaboration from all; there was a much wider support for the different funds associated with the Jewish National Movement; the local Rabbinate had grown in influence, with even de facto recognition from the Old Hebrew Congregation The evolution of the Community was taking shape very visibly, both in thought and action. Liverpool Jewry never had a merchant class other than few in numbers. Its business was in trade rather than in commerce, but the rise and progress of a University of Liverpool effected a change of the first importance. A professional class of quite relatively considerable numbers, the majority of whose members had been trained in the University of Liverpool, emerged, and their influence has been felt. The tendency for co-operation was fostered by the Jewish Literary Movement, which in the earlier days of Liverpool Jewry found expression in various groups and circles having their progeny in the form of various successively constituted societies, all based on an inter congregational footing or more strictly extra-congregational. These movements tended to break down isolationism, isolationism within the Community, because throughout its history there has never been anything like an isolationism from the general community, however much at times the quantitative contact may have varied* * Founded in 1928*</page><page sequence="13">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 35 Liverpool Jewry has a distinguished record for pioneering in institutional foundations and developments, and generally one that is noteworthy in achievement. It claims, with every justification, to be the seat of the first efforts in this country of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, the movement which eventuated in the formation of the Anglo Jewish Association of which the Liverpool Branch of the Alliance became the first branch. This unit was founded in 1867, and its first annual meeting was held in 1868. The Liverpool branch celebrated its completion of fifty years' work at a meeting held in Liverpool on June 30th, 1918, and the Report of the proceedings has become a document of title in the history of the movement which the Alliance and the Association represent. At the time of the great wave of persecution in Russia in 1881, a Liverpool Jewish commission was charged with the disposition of the Mansion House Relief Fund in aid of Jewish Refugees. More than six thousand Jewish refugees were sent by the Liverpool Commissioners to Canada and the United States, as recorded in the Memoir of the Proceedings (1882). The pioneer philanthropic efforts have already been noted as among the earlier manifestations of Liverpool Jewish endeavour, and it is characteristic of the City that for well over half a century its oldest philanthropic organisation has been associated with the local mayoral visit to a synagogue, and, equally characteristic, of Liverpool's adaptability to the processes of institutional evolution, that such annual occasion is now celebrated in collaboration with the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council. Partial co-ordination of philanthropic effort has been attained and may develop still further when the more distinctively Anglo-Jewish methods of philanthropic work and those more typical of the Continent coalesce. A recent instance of a further develop? ment is to be found in the establishment of a Home for Aged Jews, and an earlier mani? festation in the manner of its time is seen in the homes associated with the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation. An instance of broad based co-operative activity is to be found in the Jewish Women's Personal Service Guild, which has a record of more than two decades of helpful collaboration. On the other hand the Jewish Children's Country Holiday Fund owed and found the impetus for its foundation to and in the local tendency to independent action instead of falling into line with national movements, and in the case of the Children's Country Holiday Home, the distance of the resorts nearer to the Metropolis and the proximity of Wales encouraged the departure. The cataclysm which befell central European Jewry in 1933 had an immediate repercussion in the establishment of an active local Branch of the Central British Fund for Jewish Relief and Re-habilitation, and large sums were raised in support, in addition to personal service of various kinds. Liverpool was in the forefront of the protest against the Central European persecution, a protest organised by Christians inspired by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool.1 At one time Liverpool possessed an active unit of the Jewish Lads' Brigade. It was associated with the Jewish Lads' Club Movement which, in varying forms, found expression from the year 1904, with premises successively in West Derby Street, Maryland Street, Upper Parliament Street, and Chatham Street. It was paralleled by a Girls' Club, which functioned for several years under the title of the Hope Place Girls' Club, later with a more distinctive Jewish title, with premises adjoining the then Jewish Centre. More recently the Boys' Club has developed into a Boys' and Girls' Club. The Friendly Society Movement has a long history in Liverpool, the Liverpool Hebrew Tontine Society, founded in 1882, claiming to be one of the pioneers of its 1 The Most Rev. Dr. Richard Downey.</page><page sequence="14">36 A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT kind. That society is now defunct and the movement generally has been affected by the several National Insurance Schemes, but many of the branches of the friendly society orders survive. They have been of value in affording institutional training under Jewish auspices in the ways of British citizenship, and helpful in qualifying for naturalisation. The two great world wars led to the formation of the Liverpool branch of the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women. The Council of Christians and Jews has a group of Merseyside adherents which has become an organised entity. It is a movement in complete harmony with the Judaeo-Christian Liverpool outlook. For that reason, perhaps, it has less to do to remove misunderstanding, but seeks to make for still better understanding. It is noteworthy that it has enjoyed the support of every shade of Jewish and Christian denomination. For a clear understanding of the personality of Liverpool Jewry, certain salient characteristics must be borne in mind. The City itself is less cosmopolitan but more international than most other seaport cities of England, and outstandingly multi-denominational. Jewry thus is only one species of a genus which comprehends many. The members of Merseyside Jewry tend to be individualist in relation to the civic life, as constrasted with some other areas where Jewry acts collectively. Merseyside Jewry as a rule, acts collectively for its own internal affairs for Jewish work as a whole, it acts individually in relation to the outer world. Merseyside has a worthy record of valuable service in citizenship rendered by its Jewry over several generations. Liverpool Jewry has a roll of eminent personalities, but individually they cannot come within the scope of this presentation.1 However distinguished, they must, in such a survey, yield to the consideration of the movement and organisations of which they were founders or participants.2 It is in the objective reality of such movements and organisations that the essential characteristics of a community such as that of Liverpool is to be assessed, and a survey should testify to its importance. Of the importance of Liverpool Jewry no historian of Anglo-Jewry can reasonably have any doubt. The predominant characteristic of the more recent Jewish history of the locality is the realisation of a growing sense of unity, manifested by greater co-ordination of effort and co-operation of the several entities. This has found its fullest expression in the establishment of what is now known as the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council, which, upon its foundation in 1946, was termed 'The Council of Liverpool and District Jews.' This was formed on the initiative of local members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The Council has already proved the worth of the endeavour, and shows every sign of being firmly established. The greatest step towards the consolidation of the Orthodox community on Merseyside has been the establishment of unity among the Orthodox congregations with the co-operation of the Liverpool Shechita Board and the Yeshiva&gt; in the joint maintenance of the local Rabbinical Authority by participation in the Liverpool and District Rabbi Sustentation Fund. Here this survey of the Institutional history of Merseyside Jewry may fittingly be 1 In this behalf in the present survey names, except in respect of bibliographical references, have been limited to such mention as necessary to prevent erroneous identification. 2 On both sides of the Mersey there have been Jewish occupants of the Mayoral Offices, as well as members of the Magistracy and the Municipal Councils and Liverpool has been thus re? presented in Parliament more than once. The University from its earliest days has had numerous Jewish personnel in most of its ranks and received notable benefactions from mem? bers of local Jewry.</page><page sequence="15">A SURVEY OF THE JEWISH INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF LIVERPOOL AND DISTRICT 37 brought to a close. Merseyside Jewry cannot claim prominence by reason of its quanti? tative importance. It is not, of course, a small community, but never, so far as can be verified, extending beyond eight thousand in number, but Israel itself, Holy Writ bids us remember, was not chosen because of its size. Merseyside Jewry has established an identity, a personality, which has stood, and today stands, as something of significance in Anglo-Jewish life, looking back to a local past of considerable achievement and looking forward with faith and hope to a promising future. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE In addition to the historical writings (with their own bibliographical references) cited in the text and notes, see further and generally, Cecil Roth, "The Rise of Provincial Jewry" (1950), pp. 11, 82 and 121. MargoliouuYs "History of the Jews in Great Britain" (1851) was not relied upon for factual material either by the late B. L. Benas or the present writer. In the Memoir of Lucien Wolf contained in his "Essays in Jewish History" edited by Cecil Roth (1914) the following passage occurs at p.26 :?"A century later (i.e., a century after 1738) .Moses Margoliouth, had written an ill-balanced and pedestrian History of the Jews in Great Britain (1851), useful only with regard to contemporary conditions and events." For the general history of the Jews in England, see A. M. Hyamson, "A History of the Jews in England" (2nd ed. 1928), Cecil Roth, "A History of the Jews in England" (2nd ed. 1949) and his "Magna Bibliotheca Anglo Judaica" should be consulted. The contemporary Jewish press and the local general press, the records of the several institutions and the great collection of local history and lore at the library of the Athenaeum, Liverpool have been consulted for verification of data. Memorabilia orally recounted to me by my late father and first-hand evidence of current local history have supple? mented written testimony.</page></plain_text>

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