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Introduction Vol 46

<plain_text><page sequence="1">INTRODUCTION Many readers of Transactions are no doubt familiar with Cecil Roth's assessment of Anglo-Jewry's historical insignificance.1 Compared to Litvaks, German Jews, American Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, and many other Jewish-hyphenated communities, Britain's Jews do not amount to much in the grand scheme of Jewish history, Roth asserted. In the last decades, a number of historians have challenged Roth's pronouncement. Many among them have generously donated their time and expertise to the transformation of Transactions into the peer-reviewed journal you have before you. Simultaneously, Transactions is the organ of a London-based voluntary organization, the Jewish Historical Society of England (jhse), with branches throughout Britain and one in Israel. The journal also publishes local and family histories, to the extent that these facilitate the further study of Jewry in the English-speaking world. Beginning with the next volume, 47, Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society o/England will be an imprint of the University College London (ucl) Press. Perhaps it is not surprising that scholars and critics who recognize the importance of Anglo-Jewry, as well as the significance of Jewish historiography originating in Britain, often are situated either outside or at the margins of the Anglo-Jewish community. While holding Cecil Roth, their nine-time president, in the highest esteem, the jhse has regarded his disparaging of Anglo-Jewry with a sly wink. In the barrage of commemorations of the First World War, for instance, we have been reminded of the extraordinary legacy of not simply British soldiers but of Jews in their ranks, such as Isaac Rosenberg. What is most important about their lives and creativity is that it reflected and impacted on not only the Jews but also the wider world - and still exerts influence. In an earlier era, one would have talked about Jews' "contributions". The term, as well as the concept itself, has been put out to pasture. Historians are now keen to explore how all of history looks different when outsiders, whether they be women, Jews, or other minority groups, are integrated into a general narrative. i One of the more recent treatments is in Todd Endelman, The Jews of Britain 1656 to 2000 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2002), 1. Jewish Historical Studies, volume 46, 2014 ix</page><page sequence="2">X MICHAEL BERKOWITZ A great irony in Roth's communal and self-deprecation is that he failed to measure the pioneering quality of his own work. In at least two ways Roth helped change how Jews saw and wrote about themselves. In his writing he sought to show how relations between Jews and non-Jews were not often predictable: that along with hatred and persecutions there were times when non-Jews actively protected and worked together with Jews for their mutual benefit. He was also one of the earliest scholars to call attention to what is now termed "Jewish art". When Roth first spoke about the need to look closely at Jewish illuminated manuscripts, there were those who doubted such an entity even existed. The articles contained in the current volume ofTransactions support the general argument that Jews in Britain were among the critical actors who made normative Judaism and Jewish history what it was, and must be taken into account in its con- tinuing evolution. To begin, Pinchas Roth provides a rich exploration of "New Responsa by Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton". The intrigue starts with the title: "new" responsa from the thirteenth century? Certainly, these are old but new, in the sense of Isaac ben Peretz being understood and contextualized by contemporaries. Northampton? Is that not a bastion of rugby? A rabbi of the "first rank"? Roth makes a compelling case for integrating Isaac ben Peretz into the rabbinic canon. During the long period when there was no official Jewish community in Britain, after the expulsion at the end of the thirteenth century, the most enduring Jew in literature was born: Shakespeare's character of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Michael Shapiro illuminates the evolution of an important aspect of the staging of this protean play: Shylock's house. Poised between the history of literature, stage, and cultural studies, Shapiro offers a new perspective on the seemingly never-ending saga of Shakespeare and his Jewish questions. Daniel Langton's approach to Lucien Wolf and Joseph Jacobs, in the light of "Jewish evolutionary perspectives on Judaism, antisemitism, and race science in late nineteenth-century England", is a setting where rabbinical Judaism has only a trace of the authority it enjoyed in the days of Isaac Ben Peretz. Instead, Jews were looking to the scientific discoveries and outlooks in the greater milieu in order to discern how Jews ought to make their way in the modern world. Susan Tananbaum's investigation of the Cape Town Jewish Orphanage moves us from the realm of the abstract and theoretical to the concrete and all too human. As the first scholarly exploration of this significant</page><page sequence="3">Introduction xi institution, Tananbaum's article also represents a deliberate move of Transactions beyond Britain. We learn that far from a generic institution, the Cape Jewish Orphanage was in large part shaped by both the legacies the emigrants brought with them, as well as their new surroundings that could scarcely have been less similar to Lithuania's cities and shtetlach. Juxtapositions and collisions of world views are at the heart of Ludy Giebels's examination of the life and murder ofjacob Israel De Haan. Born in the Netherlands, De Haan seems to embody a bundle of contradictions, not the least of which was that he was widely known to be homosexual, while being a prominent member of Mizrachi, and later Jerusalem's ultra- Orthodox community. As a new immigrant to Mandate Palestine, the fact that De Haan was fluent in English served him well. He taught law and operated as a lawyer in Jerusalem, and became most famous as the chief political adviser and advocate for the archly anti-Zionist sect under Rabbi Haim Sonnenfeld. Like South Africa, Mandate Palestine also may be recognized as a realm where Jewish history was being forged in the Queen's English, or some variety thereof. Giebels offers a compelling interpretation of De Haan's life and murder, probably at the hands of fellow Jews, in Jerusalem. Barry Stiefel's article on "Jews, synagogues, architecture, and the building trades in the modern anglophone world" is fully in tune with Cecil Roth's previously mentioned directive to excavate previously neglected fields, including the material history ofjewry. Stiefel's reconstruction and interpretations of Jews' relationships to the erection of their communal homes reveal a number of observations that will surprise many - such as the significance of women in these projects - and, one hopes, will provide inspiration to look more closely at the historical evolution of the Jewish world around us. Suzanne Brown-Fleming, a leading historian of Catholic-Jewish relations in the Holocaust and postwar period, has recently explored a cache of documents in the Vatican concerning responses to Kristall- nacht, the "Night of the Broken Glass", of 9-10 November 1938 in Nazi Germany. This is one of the rare occasions when the thoughts and actions of Catholic officialdom in Britain has come under scrutiny, with findings and conclusions that have rarely been considered, yet deeply enrich our understanding of the period. In addition to the articles, we have two research reports. Bryan Diamond writes on portraits of Claude Montefiore, a prolific and complex thinker who is best remembered as a founder of Liberal Judaism. Martin</page><page sequence="4">xii MICHAEL BERKOWITZ Sugarman, well-known as a popular historian of Jews in the military, shares fascinating stories of glider pilots. Continuing our effort to offer substantial reviews of new literature in the field, Philipp Nothaft evaluates The Jews of Medieval Britain, edited by Particia Skinner, Jonathan Lewis reviews Derek Penslar's Jews and the Military, Bryan Diamond assesses Phillipa Bernard's History of the West London Synagogue, and Michael Alpert discusses Pam Fox's biography oflsrael Isidor Mattuck. Tom Plant's review essay features David Dee's Sport and British Jewry and Anthony Clavane's Does Your Rabbi Knou? You're Here?. To close, Malcolm Brown writes on a newly published memoir of Alcon Copisarow, a scientist and entrepreneur whose activity spanned diverse realms. Alexander Knapp, the author of an article in the previous issue, "The significance of Meier Leon's Yigdal melody as a link between Jewish and Christian hymnody in eighteenth-century London", has corrections that will be made available on the website of the jhse. I wish to again record my profound thanks to the many unnamed readers of submissions, to Katharine Ridler for her copy-editing, and to Jeremy Schonfield for his ongoing commitment to Transactions. Michael Berkowitz University College London</page></plain_text>

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