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Preface Vol 3

<plain_text><page sequence="1">PREFACE. This volume contains a selection from the papers read before the Society since the publication of the second volume of Transactions. In addition a series of documents, hitherto un? published, has been included, and it is hoped that these will be interesting to students of the history of the English Jews in the thirteenth century. For the preparation of the volume the Editorial Committee is responsible. Two Presidential Addresses are here presented. The first is by the Chief Kabbi, who was President of the Society during the session 1896?7: the second is by Mr. Joseph Jacobs, who has been President for the sessions 1897-9. It will be observed that Mr. Jacobs' address was delivered in Birming? ham. This innovation was designed to express the Society's sense of the importance of securing the adhesion of larger sup? port outside the Metropolis, and the plan met with considerable success. The Jewish community of Birmingham received the President with a warm welcome, and encouraged the Council to hope that future experiments of the same nature in other large centres of Jewish population will be similarly fruitful of good result. Another novelty in the Society's work has also been initiated. When the Society was founded it was intended to formulate a scheme by which the study of general Jewish history might be popularised. A number of lectures have now been prepared, and several others are in course of completion. These lectures</page><page sequence="2">vi PREFACE. are illustrated by lantern views, the subjects of the pictures being derived from manuscripts, old prints, ancient records, and other authentic sources. Thus the pictures are in them? selves instructive, and when the series of lectures is complete the pictures will form a consecutive presentment of Jewish life in many of its historical aspects. An important feature of the slides is that many of them represent places and sites indelibly associated with the past and present of Judaism. That the public appreciates this extension of the Society's work is shown by the large audiences which have assembled to hear Dr. Adlers lecture on " Menasseh ben Israel," and the Rev. S. Singers lecture on the " Jews of Borne." These lectures have already been delivered in Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as in London. Other lectures now ready are Mr. Frank Haes' " Survey of Anglo-Je wish History," and Mr. I. Abrahams' " Moses Maimonides." Of the lectures not yet so forward, but still in active preparation, are Dr. Friedl?nder's on " Rashi and the Rhine," Dr. Hirschfeld's on " The Story of Jewish Emancipation," the Rev. L. M. Simmons' on " Hillel and the Mishnah," Mr. E. K Adlers on " Persia and the Gaonim," and several others, which it would be premature to mention at present. It is satisfactory to state that this scheme has made no inroad on the regular funds of the Society, for the cost has been defrayed by a special fund raised for the purpose. Dona? tions will be welcome to enable the Society to develop this side of its activity. The slides can, in most cases, be lent at a small charge to local societies, which will thus be able to use the lectures when it is impossible to secure the attendance of the authors. In this way it may be possible to arouse a wider interest in Jewish history than has hitherto been the case. The regular funds of the Society are, in accordance with the Society's constitution, reserved for research into and publi</page><page sequence="3">PREFACE. vii cation of the records of the history of the Jews in the British Empire. The publication of the Society's transactions falls within this category, and so far the funds have been only sufficient to meet the cost of this publication, and to defray the expenses of the meetings. But it will be seen that in the present volume is printed a report by Mr. Haes on the Old Jewish Houses in Lincoln, and the Society will undertake similar surveys in other parts of the country. Moreover, it is hoped to publish, in conjunction with the Seiden Society, the valuable Plea Polls which contain so much of importance for the history of English Jews. A volume of Menasseh ben Israel's pamphlets is also in the press, and Mr. Lucien Wolf is writing an Introduction and Notes. Besides this, the Society hopes to publish a volume of long extracts from the two most considerable Hebrew works written by English Jews in the pre-Expulsion period, the " Onyx Book " and the " Ets Chayim." The materials for the early history of English Jews are very abundant, and it is regrettable that the Committee has to state that there is a great dearth of students willing to devote them? selves to the work of research. Until this want is filled it is hopeless to expect an adequate treatment of the extant records. A similar remark applies to the later history of the Jews of England. Material exists in enormous volume, but workers are few. While it is satisfactory to report that two or three good recruits have joined the ranks of the workers, yet many more are urgently needed before the future of the Society can be called assured. Donations to the Research Fund are also desirable to enable the Committee to have copies made of important documents in the Record Office and elsewhere. Despite these drawbacks, it will probably be felt that the present volume is a real contribution to the history of the Jews of England. The relations between the Jews and the King in earlier times are made clearer by some of the papers</page><page sequence="4">viii PREFACE. contained in this book, the importance and romance of the activity of the Marranos, the part played by Jews in the commercial expansion of England, and the communal life of the Jews themselves since the Restoration are all illuminated with new light. And the papers are an addition also to the history of England. Some side-walks of the history of this country can only be surveyed by students of the Jewish records, and it will be found that future historians of England will be able to write more fully and more accurately on wider issues because of the material provided by the Jewish Historical Society. This at least is the aspiration which gives the Committee courage to proceed on its work with the energy of a double inspiration?the desire to add to the store of knowledge bofch about the Jews of England, and about the England which Jews have so much reason to love. The Committee rejoices to state that the Society's meetings have been well attended, the average attendance being one hundred. For the use of the rooms of the Maccabeans, the Society offers that body its sincere thanks. Thanks are also tendered to the editors of the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Quarterly Review for permission to reprint matter from their pages. The Committee is also grateful to the Rev. R. Harris for permission to reproduce the portrait of Zevi Ashkenazi, which forms the frontispiece to this volume.</page></plain_text>