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The Jubilee Meeting

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Jubilee Meeting, 3rd June, 1943 The Jubilee of the Jewish Historical Society of England was cele? brated on 3rd June, 1943?the fiftieth anniversary of the inaugural meeting?by an afternoon reception in the Rooms of the Royal Society, Burlington House, London. The guests were received by Sir John Clapham, President of the British Academy; Professor F. M. Stenton, President of the Royal Historical Society; and Dr. Cecil Roth, President of the Jewish Historical Society. There was a large and distinguished gathering. After the reception, a meeting was held in the Royal Society's lecture-hall, the Chair being taken by Sir John Clapham. After an abstract of the Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting had been read by the Rev. Walter Levin (Acting Honorary Secretary), and apologies for absence had been communicated by Mr. J. N. Nabarro (Associate Honorary Secretary for the Jubilee function), the Chair? man said: c T ^ Sir John Clapham I have not the honour to be a member of your Society, but I was invited to preside because I have the temporary honour of being President of the British Academy, which is responsible for this country as a whole for those studies which interest you as a sub? division of our people. In that capacity it is a very great pleasure, as well as a not incon? siderable honour, to me to congratulate your Society on its Jubilee and to welcome it into the ranks of the historical and humane societies of Britain. It is also a great pleasure that someone has been able to procure for you not the rooms of the British Academy, but the rooms of the Royal Society. The British Academy, I may say, being a young institution, is housed in what I can only call a " sous terrain " at the back of this building, very ill-suited indeed for a i65</page><page sequence="2">i66 THE JUBILEE MEETING large gathering such as this. However, the Royal Society was willing to forget the natural sciences and to allow me and you who are interested in human affairs to occupy their rooms. We are very grateful. My right to speak about Jewish history is strictly limited. I have dabbled in it from time to time. I have read articles by some of your members and books by great Jewish scholars who are not your members. By a fortunate accident, quite apart from this meeting, I had the occasion recendy of reading a remarkable book, very few copies of which I expect have yet got to England?three volumes on the Jewish Community by Professor Salo Baron, of the Columbia University of New York, a book which follows the story from the Palestinian municipality to the eighteenth century. The book added to my knowledge on almost every page. I commend it to you very sincerely, if copies are available; but getting copies out of America is no easy matter. My own individual dabblings in Jewish history have been few and unsystematic. Some years ago I was working on the history of a Cambridgeshire village, a place called Linton, about eleven miles out of Cambridge, and there in the year 1279 I met an isolated Jew. There was a small section of Jewry in Cambridge itself, and I suppose this man had emigrated to this village. But there he was living alone. How common that kind of thing was I do not know, but it inter? ested me very much. It must have been a dreary life because it was only a few years before a discreditable episode between your people and the Government of England?discreditable to the Government I may add. Latterly I have been wandering into a field where I might perhaps expect to meet more of your people?the history of the Bank of England. I have been given access to the records of the Bank, and I was naturally interested to ascertain how far or in what way the Jewish immigrants who were coming into England were connected with that very powerful British institution. I have been through the " Book of the Subscriptions "?the book that contains all the original subscribers to the Bank of England, with their signatures; it is a</page><page sequence="3">the jubilee meeting 167 very interesting book. Only one single name appears to be that of a Jew, a Levy, among these original subscribers of the capital of the Bank of England. Within a few years, however, members of the Jewish community begin to abound. We have records of all trans? actions of stock. The Bank has all the stock books and all the accounts from the beginning. (I may say in passing, that the other day someone proposed that they should pulp these records, but collaboration between various historians and others has saved them.) I found that at an early date there was a considerable and impor? tant growth of Jewish names. Almost entirely, at that time, they were of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish families, many from Amsterdam ?Fonseca, Henriquez, Nunes, Pereira, Bueno de Mesquita. Within thirty years they had become very important holders of Bank stock. Not only that, but one member of the community was the Bank's broker for silver from the very start. His name?need I say? ?was Mocatta. I watched the community working its way into this typically British institution. They did not become Directors?that was reserved for other groups?but they became very important shareholders. I could follow them down until Nathan Rothschild appears on the scene at the beginning of the last century. His dealings with the Bank make an interesting story, which the books about the Rothschild family have not yet told. I must not keep you longer. I have spoken enough about my little excursions into the field which you plough. With that I will take my seat. I have to call upon Mr. Cecil Roth to give you his report of the Society's work. The President, Dr. Cecil Roth. The men who came together at a crowded meeting in the rooms of the Maccabaeans on Saturday evening, 3rd June, 1893, in order to establish the Jewish Historical Society of England were as brilliant a constellation as the Anglo-Jewish community could have brought together on one occasion at any time. The Chief Rabbi, Dr. Hermann Adler, could not be absent from such a gathering: nor could Frederic David Mocatta, whose nobility of character and zeal for</page><page sequence="4">i68 THE JUBILEE MEETING all things Jewish still shine through the stilted phraseology of nine? teenth-century philanthropy. Isidore Spielmann, the organiser of art exhibitions (not yet knighted), was of course there : for he had taken a leading part in the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition six years earlier, which set Jewish historical scholarship in this country on a new basis, and initiated the movement which led to this meeting. (Alas, that in these degenerate and hurried days we cannot hope to reproduce that remarkable achievement.) There too was Israel Abrahams, to be elected Honorary Secretary in the course of the proceedings, who had succeeded in wedding English humanism with Jewish scholarship, for the first time, with such brilliant success. For five years, he had been Associate Editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review, which was to become for a space the semi-official organ of the new body: and it was natural for him to be accompanied by his colleague, Claude Goldsmid Montefiore, whose expenditure on the Review was, it is said, so great as to be a drain even on his lavish purse. As regards Anglo-Jewish history, these were hardly more than amateurs by the side of Joseph Jacobs, pre-eminent as a folklorist, who touched nothing that he did not adorn?and left very little untouched. In the Chair was Lucien Wolf, then at the height of his reputation in the world of journalism, who would probably have made himself a truly great name as a general historian but for the self-sacrificing zeal with which he restricted himself to the Anglo-Jewish scene. Between him and Jacobs there was a tacit agreement concerning the division of the field, the one touching nothing before, and the other nothing after, the Expul? sion of 1290. Let me say at once, as the person who has perhaps worked more consistendy over the entire ground than any other, that but for their work Anglo-Je wish history would still be in its rudimentary stage, and that the occasional discovery of their slips only enhances in me an admiration for their achievement. All those whom I have mentioned, who took a part in the proceed? ings that Saturday night, were in turn Presidents of the new Society in its early years, each making his own specific contribution to its work. Abrahams, apart from his original researches, edited the</page><page sequence="5">THE JUBILEE MEETING 169 Transactions and gave them the scientific standard that they have never relinquished; Wolf and Jacobs contributed a series of brilliant monographs?in the former case, extending over a period of forty years?which opened new vistas in the study of the subject; Dr. Adler, besides adding some distinguished contributions, symbolised the ecclesiastical participation that never subsequently failed; Monte fiore admitted the Society among the good causes for which his pocket and his periodical were open; Spielmann lavished on it his organising ability; and Mocatta endowed it with the nucleus of its magnificent library. Their successors in the presidency have included?with the one regrettable exception who stands before you ?as distinguished a series as our community could furnish?Ha ham Moses Gaster, Sir Lionel Abrahams, Sir Hermann Gollancz, Dr. S. A. Hirsch, Israel Zangwill, H. S. Q. Henriques, and our great benefactor, whose loss is so fresh in our memory, Gustave Tuck. Interest and participation in our work on the part of non-Jews was symbolised by Canon H. P. Stokes, the only Gentile who has thus far served as our President, though from the beginning there have been?and are?several on our Council and among our members. Those who are with us to-day, in person or in thought, assuredly deserve special mention : and I am sure that you will join with me in a tribute to the surviving Presidential paladins?Mr. Elkan Adler, Nestor of Jewish bibliography, whose recent eightieth birthday was celebrated by the Society by the publication of the first part of a volume of Essays written in his honour; the Rev. S. Levy, long our Honorary Secretary; the Rev. Michael Adler, who has succeeded Joseph Jacobs as the authority on everything connected with medi? eval Anglo-Jewry; Mr. Philip Guedalla who converted History from something black and white to something that is read; Dr. Redcliffe Salaman, who surveys our proceedings from the distant heights of anthropology; and Dr. J. H. Hertz, Chief Rabbi, who is himself part of Anglo-Jewish history. Some scores of volumes, great and small, as well as the record of I suppose some hundreds of meetings, testify to the fruitful activity of our Society during its half-century of existence, not only as a</page><page sequence="6">i7o THE JUBILEE MEETING research body but as a Jewish publication society on a modest scale. The constant citation of the works produced under its auspices, in authoritative researches in many lands and tongues (and perhaps I may add their consistently high valuation in the catalogues of second-hand booksellers), testifies to their importance; and some have taken their place as contributions of high significance for English history in its wider sense. It might be imagined that our field is becoming exhausted. But this is far from being the case. Indeed, of even the dozen subjects that were scheduled for early treatment in our preliminary circular of 1893, only half have been despatched as yet?many of them after some years' delay?while the rest still await their devotee or their Maecenas. In the course of the last half-century (as is obvious), fresh vistas have opened up. New topics have been created, with the shift of the emphasis in history to social and economic life: and these have barely been touched. We are still sadly lacking in accounts of the provincial Jewish communities in the Middle Ages, and still more in modern times. Recent discoveries have shown that Jewish scholar? ship was more flourishing in medieval England than was believed possible by sober students fifty years ago, with the corollary that a certain influence may have been exercised on contemporary English intellectual life: but this aspect has not been explored. Literary discoveries of some moment have been made, and even prepared for publication, but we are not in a position to undertake the work. The contents of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews partially published under our auspices, so fruitful in detail, have never yet been put to a thorough examination : indeed, we have the material, though not the money, for the publication of two further volumes to bring the series to its close, and until we have done this we cannot say that students have even been provided with their tools. " What of it?" some of you (though only, I hope, non-members) will say. "It is of no importance for contemporary conditions.'' I beg to differ. As you know, the legend regarding the medieval Jew is that he was an urban usurer. From a detailed inspection of the published materials of the Jewish Exchequer, it appears that in the Middle</page><page sequence="7">THE JUBILEE MEETING 171 Ages the Jews of England were settled in no fewer than 200 places scattered all over the countryside, and that they comprised callings such as those of horse-soldier, crossbowman and ballad-singer. When all the material is available, I fancy that it may be possible to demonstrate that in the Middle Ages there was a large Anglo-Jewish proletariat, who had little to do with the kernel of financiers in whom the King was interested; and this probably applied to other countries as well. The manner is hardly, I think, of scientific interest only. Even antiquarianism, then, is not necessarily antiquarian. But, coming nearer our own times, there are a score of problems that demand treatment. Whence did Anglo-Jewry come, in the seven? teenth and eighteenth centuries? and why did they come? Indeed, for that matter we know the story of the later immigration, of the eighteen-eighties and eighteen-nineties, so important and so near to our own day, only in general terms. It is of vital importance for us to ascertain scientifically, and not by the hit and miss (or, should I say, snatch and grab?) method that has hitherto been used, what part Jews played in the development of modern English economic life. The history of the Trade Union movement among the Jewish workers of the East End, of Leeds and of Manchester, of some significance in the history of British labour as well as of the Jewish proletariat, has never yet been described; nor even, in a serious fashion, the history of the Anglo-Jewish press. What was relatively new fifty years ago is now of respectable antiquity, and worthy of even the antiquarian's attention. Institutions, which have attained great importance in the past generation, still await their chronicler. Moreover, we cannot assess what the Jews have contributed to Anglo Jewish life without biographical studies of scores of worthies of a byegone age who are at present little more than names. The experi? ence of the past few years has assuredly demonstrated how ignorance is a breeding-ground for falsehood and calumny, which it is the task of the historian to dispel; and we would be wise, I think, to bring even contemporary developments within our purview. I could con? tinue my jeremiad almost indefinitely. It is not material that we</page><page sequence="8">I72 THE JUBILEE MEETING lack so much as workers, and the support which will assure workers that their labours are not in vain. I hope that such preoccupations will not seem unimportant in your eyes. They are not, I can assure you, in the eyes of the world of learning (and I am sure that in this I will have the support of the two very distinguished historians who are honouring us to-day by acting as co-hosts). It is upon minute researches only that the edifice of history can be erected, and painstaking antiquarian enquiry sometimes constitutes the linch-pin for conclusions which are of the utmost importance in the field of scholarship and even of politics. Moreover, precisely because Anglo-Jewry has never been numeri? cally great, and precisely because it is confined chronologically to a relatively short period, we have the possibility of reconstructing, with the aid of the great mass of material preserved, a more than usually complete picture, in many ways of universal application, which is therefore of particularly great significance for historical study generally. While I realise this, and while I am insistant that the study of Anglo-Jewish history must remain our specific interest, I cannot withhold my conviction that, with the change in general conditions, our responsibilities have become much wider. The tragic debacle on the Continent has left us, in fact, the only Jewish ' scientific' society in the whole of Europe. It seems to me that in consequence of this we have a responsibility now that our founders can never have conceived when they academically debated the scope of the new body they were constituting. In his brilliant address before the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition in 1887, Heinrich Graetz, the greatest of all our historians, appealed to English Jews to establish a Jewish Academy with four sections, one of which should deal with History and Archaeology and assume the responsibility for pro? ducing a corpus of Jewish historical materials. We have carried out only a small part of the master's commission, the rest being left to other, and (it was felt) better qualified hands. Now however I cannot help feeling that there has devolved upon us the ineluctable duty of shouldering the remainder of the task, since outside Palestine</page><page sequence="9">THE JUBILEE MEETING there is no one left in the Old World who can do it. However reluctant we may be (and I must confess that I for one am highly reluctant) we must henceforth at least take into consideration? unless we are prepared to acquiesce in a general debacle of modern Jewish studies in the Continent that gave them their birth?the advisability of extending our scope to cover a wider field. It is surely obvious moreover that, however much we may be inclined to shirk the task, it is our duty to do what we can to help in reorganising Jewish intellectual life and Jewish learned institutions in the various countries of the continent of Europe when at last the Nazi flood has subsided: for I am convinced that this is an essential part of the work of post-war reconstruction. Already, indeed, we have received from various quarters applications for help and guidance: and in moments of despondency about the Society, it is enough for me to get out my letter-file and see how highly it is considered, and how lavishly its financial potentialities are estimated, by strangers. We have begun our work in this direction by summoning a conference, with fruitful results, to consider the important question of the recon stitution of the Continental Jewish Libraries, Archives and Museums, and to draw up a scheme for submission to the competent authority. Here, once more, our work has an intensely practical aspect. At this point I must request you to permit a moment's diversion from my main theme. Though we are assembled this afternoon for a festive gathering, it would not be proper for us to allow the occasion to pass without turning our thoughts for a brief space to our suffering brethren on the Continent, whose martyrdom con? stitutes a sombre background to everything that we think, and every? thing that we do, and everything that we plan, at the present time. I would, however, add that it is precisely by seeing that the Jewish values which they cherished are unimpaired in our charge, and that the torch of Jewish learning which they kindled is upheld in our hands, that we can pay them the most fitting tribute and show our? selves most worthy of their heritage. For every sort of work that we can envisage, whether of research, or of defence, or of restoration, one thing (apart from material</page><page sequence="10">i74 THE JUBILEE MEETING resources) is supremely necessary: and that is a Library. (It is remarkable, incidentally, how the stress of war has induced even politicians to agree with students in this matter.) Regarding this subject, it is difficult for me to speak without emotion : for five years ago we owned what was indubitably one of the finest specialist libraries in this country. It was founded, forty years ago, through the munificence of Frederic David Mocatta; it had been enriched from the collections of Israel Abrahams, Sir Hermann Gollancz and, above all, Lucien Wolf, as well as by systematic purchases and many individual donations. In the end, it was a model of its kind, containing (besides a good general library of History and Judaica) almost every print, book, pamphlet and publication, old and new, bearing on the study of Anglo-Jewish history. The student in search of information, or the publicist endeavouring to trace down a calumny, or the statesman requiring a precedent, had his work enormously simplified by knowing that the information that he needed, if it existed at all, was to be found upon these shelves. And, thanks to the liberality and taste of our late dear friend, Gustave Tuck, the collection was accommodated in that exquisite building in University College which served also as the Society's meeting place. This housed also the Museum which Mr. Tuck himself had so greatly enriched; and the walls were hung with the Wolf Collec? tion of Anglo-Jewish prints and mezzotints. It was an aesthetic pleasure to work in it, to meet in it, and even (though this is more difficult) to lecture in it. It was perhaps symbolical that all this fell victim to one of the earliest German bombing raids on London in the autumn of 1940. Certain books had fortunately been taken into safe custody, as well as the greater part of the contents of the Museum. Everything else, however, was completely destroyed. Nothing was left but a frag? ment of a century-old brick wall: it was impossible to take up a stick of burned wood, or a piece of charred paper, and to say : " This is what remains of the Mocatta Library ". Gustave Tuck's last illness, which made it impossible for him to visit the scene of the devastation, saved him, I am convinced, from an intolerable anguish.</page><page sequence="11">THE JUBILEE MEETING 175 To confine ourselves to weeping over the destruction would, however, be preposterous. Speaking for myself, and I hope for the Society, I feel that inaction would have been not only a dereliction of our duty to the community and of the trust committed to us by our predecessors, but also an indecent and unwarrantable acquies? cence in methods of barbarism. Immediately the news reached us, therefore, we set to work to make good our loss. I am glad to say that, all things considered, we have already made remarkable progress in reconstituting the library. In particular, thanks to the generosity of Sir Louis Sterling, we were able to acquire the Asher Myers collection of Anglo-Judaica, which was probably the finest in existence outside the Mocatta Library and comprises many unique items. We have had a number of smaller donations, including a selection of contemporary Palestinian works brought together on our behalf by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem?fitting testi? mony to the fashion in which the National Home is now coming to the help of the Diaspora. On the other hand, by an unhappy fatality, two collections destined for us were destroyed?one by a bombing raid in South Wales, one by fire in Canada. A few valuable volumes, too, have been received from private donors. But much of what we lost is irreplaceable. Moreover, a great Library is not constituted by rarities only, but also by the completeness of its collection of bread-and-butter books and works of reference. In this respect, above all, the new Mocatta Library is woefully defective. I trust that with your help, ladies and gendemen, it will not be allowed to remain so. As far as the Library building and the Society's meeting-place are concerned, University College is already far advanced with its plans for reconstruction, in which provision has been made for our require? ments. We are in negotiation with the College regarding the details, but it is obvious that a great effort will be needed on our part if our new home is to be as beautiful as the old. I should like, if I may, to pay a tribute at this stage to the unfailing courtesy and considera? tion which we have constantly met at the hands of the College authorities throughout our long association, unmarred by any breath</page><page sequence="12">176 THE JUBILEE MEETING of disagreement, and to express the wish that the happy mutual relations will long continue. On a festive occasion such as this, it is impossible for me to over? look the assistance of those who are mainly responsible for carrying on the Society's work so successfully and (I may be permitted to add) so harmoniously. Mr. Owen Mocatta, by accepting the treasurer ship on the demise of Mr. Gustave Tuck, strengthened a close family connexion that has existed ever since our foundation. The Rev. Walter Levin showed particular self-sacrifice in stepping back into the service of the Society when Captain Arthur Barnett, C.F., changed his ministerial garb for the khaki that becomes him so well: and I must here express the Society's gratitude to him and to Mr. J. N. Nabarro for their exacting work in organising the present function. Our ex-President, the Rev. Michael Adler, in the capacity of Editor of Publications, devotes a great deal of time, energy and scholarship to the volumes issued under our auspices, which owe to him a great deal of their distinction. Another ex-President and very dear friend (if I may be permitted to add it), Mr. Elkan Adler, has been our Honorary Solicitor now for 36 years, ever since he was a youngster of little less than fifty. Their service is all the more valued as it does not appear to lack an element of risk; it is, in any case, noteworthy that our Honorary Officers have all been put out of action in rapid succession through ill-health, while your President? left by this succession of mishaps in the monopolistic quandary of the Mate of the Nancy Bell?has been in collision with an American army ambulance with results which do credit to the solidity of our Allies' war material. But we are all back in harness; and, indeed, the prominence of septuagenarians among the Society's most zealous workers, if not exactly a good augury for the future, seems to indicate that the study of Anglo-Jewish history is a not insalubrious calling. I wish that it were possible to speak as confidently regarding our younger collaborators. It is in this respect, as it seems to me, that our prospects are least bright. Notwithstanding all the efforts that we have made, the number of new workers whom we have wel? comed in the past few years has been disappointingly small. But</page><page sequence="13">THE JUBILEE MEETING I77 there have been some highly promising exceptions, whose number will, I am sure, be recruited when the shadow of war is at last removed from over our heads : and I for one hope that recent arrivals in this country will assist in planting here the same zeal for things of the intellect which brought about the great achievements of the J?dische Wissenschaft on the Continent of Europe. Yet I would beg to point out to you that in the last resort the emergence of fresh collaborators largely depends on outside influence. If research workers were assured of a numerous and interested audience when they presented their findings, and of a regular sequence of Trans? actions in which their papers would obtain speedy publication, I am convinced that the participation of youth would leave us with no cause for complaint. I cannot venture to detain you any longer this afternoon. I have said, I think, enough to show not only that our Society has fulfilled its duty to the Jewish community and to the world of scholarship during the past half-century, but also that its utility is by no means exhausted. Wide fields still open out for it to cultivate, in its own traditional domain. New ground in contiguous areas remains to be broken. There are ruins to be restored. There is devastation to be repaired. There is encouragement to be given that only we can give. But all this, ladies and gentlemen, will be impossible without your collaboration. I have presented bouquets to the officers of the Society, past and present. But I have kept a last one in reserve for you, the Members. Without your support, your sympathy, your attendance, your kindliness, we could achieve nothing. I trust that you will add to all this a generous patience, especially in these difficult days, for what we may have been unable to achieve. Professor F. M. Stenton, President of the Royal Historical Society. My only excuse for standing here this afternoon is that at the moment, as President of the Royal Historical Society of England, I may in some sense represent those who are at present occupied m</page><page sequence="14">178 THE JUBILEE MEETING with historical research and may express briefly and incompetently something of what the historical community of this country owes to its Jewish fellow-workers, and I can make one general statement which I am sure every assembly of historians would echo. It is, put in the most general terms possible, that without the contributions which Jewish historians have made in the past to their studies, it is impossible to say what the present position of English codified studies would be. What should we know of English law and English justice but for Liebermann? I would add to that that historians who are not themselves qualified to work upon Jewish records or who have no direct concern with those records have every reason for gratitude to a society which, like this, has so long maintained a consistent flow of publications. Fifty years is a long time in the history of any society and there are, I think, few societies connected with history that have lived so long, You, I gather, have achieved continuity of oudook and that has given to you a solidity and has given to your contributions to history the consistency which has greatly increased their value and in par? ticular has enabled historians at large to look to you as a safe and sure means by which knowledge of Jewish problems in history may be increased. Our gratitude, ladies and gentlemen, is emphatically yours. As Dr. Roth has said, your activities are not yet at an end, and one of the singular signs of present working history is, I think, this, that so much material, which fifty years ago or even less was held of little account, is being brought into the centre of the historical scene. Records which at one time were regarded as commonplace are now being focused more accurately. The lives of individuals who may not have played any notable part in general history, or even in the history of the communities to which they belong, those lives are now seen more clearly than our predecessors saw them, as being a continuing process which can only rightly be understood in connection with the individuals who assisted it. In modern Jewish biography there must be almost an unlimited field for work of that kind, and it is extremely hard in a speech or in an article?though</page><page sequence="15">the jubilee meeting I79 it is easy enough in real life?to distinguish between what is merely of antiquarian value and what is germane to the historical process. My own feeling is that, in the right hands, there are hardly any details which do not contribute to history?it all depends on how the details are held. And even without touching the medieval records with which, perhaps, you are particularly associated, such as your records of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, of which we may hope to see completion before long, or even a part of the records dealing with the medieval period, the amount of fruitful work still to be done by you and by the scholars whom you enlist in your services from your own body or from without is almost limidess. You have fifty years behind you. I should not like to prophesy how many years of fruitful work lie in front of you. There is one final observation which I think is relevant to this present day. Historical workers, like all workers, have fallen into times of great difficulty. Resources are limited. Careers are inter? rupted. Records are most properly transferred from national centres to places of safe custody, and yet, ladies and gentlemen, the work of historical research is still going on, and what is more remarkable, the societies, the private societies such as this Society, which have in the past contributed so much to the vitality of English history? those societies show, at any rate within my knowledge and experience, no sign of that mistaken idea that historical research is not worth while for those who are free to undertake it in times of war. There, at any rate, we have given nothing away to our enemies. And it is with sure confidence that your work will go on, that there are in your community men, and women, by whom it will be extended into new fields?it is in that confidence that I venture to express to you in this hour the gratitude of all English historical workers for what you have done so splendidly in the past fifty years. The Very Rev. Dr. J. H. Hertz, c.h., Chief Rabbi, Past President, Jewish Historical Society of England. It is a matter of gratification to me to be associated in this Jubilee Celebration. In the idiom of the Rabbis, the words " Jubilee " and</page><page sequence="16">i8o THE JUBILEE MEETING " eternity " are often held to be synonyms. That is to say : wherever there has been faithful service in the cause of truth or human welfare for the period of a jubilee?there lasting, yea eternal, service has been rendered to that cause of truth or human welfare. This saying may certainly be applied to the founders of our Society, and to the noble labourers enrolled under its banner. They extended the boundaries of historical knowledge; and added a new dimension to the lives of men and women in Anglo-Jewry by a fresh interest in their history, both local and general. In this connection, I cannot help recalling that the very idea of history first arose in Israel. The Egyptians and Babylonians left behind them annals of events, chronicles of dynasties, and boastful inscriptions of victories; but nothing that can be dignified by the name of historical writing. It is in Israel that the whole human scene on earth was first seen as a unity, from its beginning to the end of time. The Scripture story does not open with the Exodus, nor with the Call of Abraham; but with Creation, and the birth of man. And it is in Israel that the kinship of the entire human family was first proclaimed. With such ideas axiomatic in all their thinking, Israel's Prophets looked upon history as the march of a providential purpose across the abyss of time; and traced the line of divine action in the lives of men and nations. Schiller's profound utterance, Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht (" History is one long Day of Judgment"), which would have been quite unintelligible to the early Greek or Roman, is but a striking epitome of prophetic thought. No wonder that Jewish teachers were the first to grasp the vital importance of history in the moral education of the individual, as of the human group. This brief indication of the spiritual background of all Jewish historiography cannot, of course, at this moment be followed by another survey of the actual achievement of Anglo-Jewish historians during the fifty years of the Society's existence. I shall confine myself to mentioning two notable works that have appeared since the outbreak of the War. In 1940 Dr. Cecil Roth published his History of the Jews in England. It is a historian's summary of what</page><page sequence="17">THE JUBILEE MEETING l8l scholarly research had hitherto brought to light; but corrected, criti? cally evaluated, and very largely augmented by the author's own specialist labours in that sphere. The other work, though only now in the Press, is of somewhat earlier date?it was, in fact, produced six hundred and fifty-three years before Dr. Roth's book, in 1287. I refer to the ritual Code, Etz C hay im, of Jacob Hazz?n of London, the outstanding contribution of pre-Expulsion Jewry to religious literature. Only one manuscript copy has come down to us; and when our Society was founded a half-century ago the publication of this Code was announced as one of its main purposes. Some months ago we were enabled to arrange that this magnum opus at long last sees the light of day. It will be welcomed by rabbinic scholars everywhere, by none more so than by those continental scholars who shall escape the fiendish mass-massacres now raging. I wish to thank the Council for the opportunity given me to link this celebration with the beginnings of Jewish history, as well as with that infinite tragedy which is writing " finis " to the story of so many Jewries. The Rt. Hon. Viscount Samuel I have a vote of thanks to propose, but before doing that I think I ought to offer an apology for absence?not from this meeting, as you perceive, but from the meeting of June 1893. At that time I was engaged in ploughing the field of history, but a different field; for it was the month of my final examination in the history school at Oxford. I am glad to say that it was a case of ploughing, and not being ploughed. My vote of thanks is to three Societies and their representatives? very eminent Societies. First among them, the doyen of all the English Societies, that in whose hall we meet to-day, the Royal Society itself. It is not many months since I had the pleasure of speaking in this hall on this platform in the presence of Sir Henry Dale, the President of the Society, who had been good enough to give an admirable speech at the meeting of the Society of Friends</page><page sequence="18">l82 THE JUBILEE MEETING of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Royal Society was founded at about the same time as the return of the Jewish com? munity to England after an exclusion of nearly four hundred years, and it is interesting to recollect that the first Secretary of the Royal Society, Oldenberg, was intimately acquainted with Menasseh ben Israel, who was the pioneer of the Jewish return, and was a constant correspondent of Spinoza, as all his biographies record. The Royal Society had a number of Jewish members even as early as the begin? ning of the eighteenth century. Now, after they?and we?have been here for some 250 years, they are kind enough to lend us their hall for the Jubilee meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of England. The second body whom we would thank is the British Academy, whose President is here and is taking the Chair for us, and who gave us so excellent an opening address. We have to thank him and the Academy on whose behalf he speaks. Thirdly, there is the Royal Historical Society, the exemplar of all historical societies of this country. Professor Stenton, its Presi? dent, has been kind enough also to come and to address us, and we hope that he does indeed find that the work of our Society is not unworthy of the great historical researches which are continually being carried on in many fields in this land of ours. Perhaps we may see in the aid and co-operation of these three eminent organisations not only a compliment to the Jewish Historical Society, which I am sure they would be willing to give in any circumstances on the occasion of its Jubilee, but also perhaps a gesture of tacit sympathy with the Jewish people as a whole in the unparalleled persecution to which in other lands it is now being subjected?a persecution which in its extent, in its ruthlessness, violence and cruelty, is unsurpassed even in the four thousand years of the often tragic history of the Jewish people. In this country, where liberty and justice reign, we are proud to hold the meeting of one of our cultural societies in perfect freedom, and with the co-operation of the leading societies of the land. My vote of thanks, according to the instruction received from the</page><page sequence="19">THE JUBILEE MEETING President, covers those three organisations, but without instruction I would add another to that vote of thanks. It is to ask you to give your thanks to the President himself. Dr. Roth's scholarship, his enthusiasm and his devotion, make him worthy to be the successor, in the Society's Jubilee year, of the inaugural President, Mr. Lucien Wolf. Not the least of his services has been the admirable address which he has given to-day, for which we also thank him. I beg to propose that comprehensive vote of thanks, and as the Chairman cannot do so, I propose to call upon the seconder, Mr. Elkan Adler, who in himself and in his family is almost an epitome and embodi? ment of the later Anglo-Je wish history. For next year it will be exactly a century since his father became the Chief Rabbi. Mr. Elkan Adler, an original member of the Society who had been present at the inaugural meeting, briefly seconded the vote, which was carried.</page></plain_text>

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