LONDON, capital of *England and seat of what has always been the largest Jewish community in the country.
There is no reliable evidence for the presence of Jews in London until after the close of the Saxon period. After the Norman Conquest of 1066, a few Jews, attracted by the economic opportunities that now offered themselves, came over from the adjacent areas of the continent (in the first instance presumably from the duchy of Normandy, including *Rouen) and established themselves in London. The earliest recorded mention of the London community dates from the reign of William Rufus (1087–1100), who appears to have favored the Jews to some extent. In his reign, a religious *disputation took place at Westminster between the abbot and a Jew from Mainz who did business with the abbey. A Jewish quarter (vicus Judaeorum) is first mentioned in the Terrier of St. Paul's (c. 1128). In 1130 the Jews of London were accused of killing a sick man – possibly some sort of *blood libel – and were forced to pay the then enormous fine of £2,000. Intellectual life in the period was sufficiently flourishing to attract a visit from Abraham *Ibn Ezra, who wrote his Iggeret ha-Shabbat and his Yesod Mora in London in 1158. Until 1177 the relative importance of the community was so great that its cemetery served the whole of Anglo-Jewry.
During the reign of Henry II (1154–89), the community flourished and was augmented by fresh arrivals from abroad. The anti-Jewish riots which broke out at the coronation of Richard I (Sept. 3, 1189) began at Westminster and soon spread to London, where the Jewish quarter was set afire and 30 persons died – including the tosafist R. *Jacob of Orleans. The community soon recovered, however, and in 1194 contributed approximately one quarter to the levy raised by the Jews of the country toward the king's ransom. The reorganization which was then undertaken by the Ordinance of the Jewry confirmed London as the administrative center for the communities of the country. The first *archpresbyter of the Jews of England under the new system was Jacob of London. Anti-Jewish feeling again manifested itself in London during the reign of John (1199–1216) who rebuked the mayor on that account. The baronial opposition, both in his reign and in that of his son Henry III (1216–72), considered the Jews, not without justification, to be royal financial instruments and maltreated them accordingly. There was a baronial attack on London Jewry in 1215.
During the period of maladministration under Henry III, the Jews of London, with those of the rest of the country, were oppressed and mulcted of enormous sums. The climax came in 1244 when it was alleged that some gashes found on the body of a dead child constituted Hebrew characters and the Jews were accused of ritual murder. This resulted in a savage punitive levy on the Jews of the realm to the amount of 60,000 marks. On the outbreak of the Barons' War (1263–65), they suffered greatly at the hands of the insurgents under Simon de Montfort. During Easter week 1263, as the result of a trivial dispute between a Jew and a citizen concerning interest on a debt, the Jewry was sacked and several of its inhabitants killed. Later, on hearing a report that the Jews had manufactured Greek fire for the royal troops, Simon de Montfort returned to London and put the Jewry systematically to the sword. In 1266, another attack was made by the so-called "disinherited knights" on the remnants of the community, who sought refuge in the Tower of London.
The Jews of London profited from the period of pacification which followed the war. Edward I's Statutum de Judaismo of 1275, however, which prohibited Jewish moneylending, inevitably drove some into dishonest ways of making a living. In 1278 a number of London Jews were included in the 680 from
The number of Jews in London in the Middle Ages probably did not exceed 500, though contemporary Jewish writers speak of 2,000 households. The original Jewish quarter, which contained a number of strong stone houses, was situated in and near what is still known as the Old Jewry. In the 12th century, the Jews began to give up their houses here and to move a little distance westward, where the Church of St. Laurence Jewry commemorates their residence. The cemetery was in what is now known as Jewin Street and the surrounding area. Prominent medieval London scholars included Joseph b. Jacob, known as "Rubi Gotsce" (fl. 1130–60), the host of Abraham Ibn Ezra and the outstanding English Jew of his day, *Jacob b. Judah, of London (late 13th century), author of Eẓ Ḥayyim, R. Moses of London (d. 1268), grammarian and halakhist, and his son the illustrious *Elijah Menahem of London (d. 1284), who also enjoyed considerable repute as a physician.
The Domus Conversorum, established by Henry III in 1232, housed nearly 100 converts at the period of the expulsion, and never remained entirely empty in subsequent years. There was a constant, though slender, stream to London of poor foreign Jews who qualified for emoluments by the formal adoption of Christianity. In addition, a few isolated Jews visited London without being baptized: for example, the physicians Elias b. Sabbetai (Sabot) of Bologna, who came in 1410 with ten followers to attend Henry IV, and Master Samson de Mirabeau who attended the wife of Richard Whittington, mayor of London, in 1409. After the expulsions from Spain and Portugal, a few Marrano refugees settled in London. At the close of the reign of Henry VIII, the crypto-Jewish community comprised some 37 householders, and religious services were held in the house of one Alves Lopes to whom newly arrived fugitives would come for assistance and advice. In 1542, the group was disturbed in consequence of disclosures made during proceedings against Marrano fugitives on the continent. It was largely dispersed as a result of the Catholic reaction in the reign of Mary. Under Elizabeth, however, it attained again significant proportions. One of its leading members was Roderigo *Lopez, the queen's physician. When an envoy of Alvaro Mendes (Solomon *Abenaes), duke of Mytilene, was in London on an official mission in 1592, services were held at his house. Toward the end of the century, the importance of the secret community diminished, and in 1609 the Portuguese merchants living in London, who were suspected of Judaizing, were again expelled.
Nevertheless, when in 1632 the Marrano community of Rouen was temporarily broken up, some fugitives, the most important being Antonio Fernandez *Carvajal, found a home in London. Other Marrano settlers went directly from Spain and Portugal. Thus, when *Manasseh Ben Israel went to England in 1655, there was already established a secret community numbering several families. Though the Whitehall Conference convened by Oliver *Cromwell in December 1655 proved abortive, they were emboldened to begin organizing their religious life on a more formal basis. A petition was presented to Cromwell asking for protection (March 1656). A house was rented and adapted for use as a synagogue in the following December. A few months later, a piece of ground was acquired for use as a cemetery. After Cromwell's death various attempts were made to procure the suppression of the community. Charles II, however, intervened in its favor, and it henceforth enjoyed de facto recognition. The original synagogue, in Creechurch Lane, was enlarged and remodeled in 1674, and in 1701 a new place of worship in Bevis Marks – still one of the architectural monuments of the city – was erected.
As its spiritual leaders, the newly established community appointed a succession of foreign scholars. They were Jacob *Sasportas (1664–65), who fled because of the great plague of London, in which several members of his flock perished, Joshua da *Silva (1670–79), Jacob *Abendana (1681–85), Solomon *Aylion (1689–1701), and David *Nieto (1701–28). The congregation was continually reinforced by fresh Marrano refugees from Spain and Portugal. After the accession of William of Orange (1689), there was a considerable influx of Spanish and Portuguese Jews from Holland. The majority of the communal magnates at this time were brokers, importers, and wholesale merchants, with a sprinkling of physicians. In the course of the reorganization of the Royal Exchange in 1697, it was arranged to admit 12 Jews – the so-called "Jew brokers" who remained a feature of the City of London until the beginning of the 19th century. In order to secure the favor of the lord mayor, a purse containing 50 guineas was presented to him each year on a valuable piece of plate by the elders of the congregation.
Meanwhile, the original Sephardi settlers had been followed by Ashkenazim who arrived for the most part via Amsterdam or Hamburg. They organized their own congregation around 1690, and in 1696 a burial ground for their use was purchased by the wealthy Benjamin *Levy. The first rabbi of the congregation, Judah Loeb b. Ephraim Anschel ha-Kohen, subsequently of Rotterdam, left as a result of internal dissensions. His place was taken, first by R. Aaron b.
The primacy of the parent body (by now known as the Great Synagogue) was, however, generally recognized – not only by the other Ashkenazi communities in London, but also by those which had by now sprung up elsewhere in the country. R. Aaron Hart was followed in the rabbinate by R. Hirschell *Levin, known in England as Hart Lyon (1758–64), R. David Tevele *Schiff (1765–91), R. Moses Myers (who also officiated at the New Synagogue (1792–1802)), and R. Solomon *Hirschell, son of Hart Lyon (1802–42), who was the first formally recognized chief rabbi of the Ashkenazi communities of the whole of England. The Ashkenazim were by now the most numerous and influential element in the London Jewish population. The lower classes, however, mainly peddlers and dealers in old clothes, who were mostly recently arrived immigrants, were not greatly esteemed. P. Colquhoun, in his Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis (1800), asserted that they were responsible for a disproportionate amount of petty crime.
The 19th century was a period of expansion and reorganization. The first synagogue outside the City (later the Western Synagogue) had been organized in Westminster around 1761. The Borough Synagogue, on the south side of the river, owed its origin to a minyan begun about the middle of the 18th century. The board for shehitah, in which Sephardim and Ashkenazim cooperated, was organized through the advocacy of Baron Lyon de Symons in 1792–1804.
As early as 1760, the Sephardi community admitted representatives of the Ashkenazim to their committee of deputados, which was appointed from time to time to represent the community vis-à-vis the government. This ultimately developed into the *Board of Deputies of British Jews, on which, until 1838, only the London communities were represented. The old talmud torah of the Ashkenazi community, established in 1732 and placed on a broader basis in 1788, was reorganized in 1817 as the Jews' Free School, originally intended to meet the menace presented by the schools which were now being set up for Jewish children by Christian conversionists; this developed in due course into one of the largest schools in Europe. The struggle for Jewish *emancipation in England centered in London. In 1831 Jews were admitted to the freedom of the city, and hence to the privilege of carrying on retail trade, from which they had hitherto been barred. In 1835, David *Salomons was elected a sheriff of the city, the first Jew to attain that distinction. In 1847 he was the first Jewish alderman, and in 1855 the first Jewish lord mayor of London. From 1830 the City of London had shown sympathy with Parliamentary emancipation of the Jews, and its persistence in electing Baron Lionel de *Rothschild, notwithstanding the fact that he could not take his seat because of the form of the statutory oath, was in a large measure responsible for the admission of the Jews to Parliament in 1858.
The growing Anglicization of London Jewry hastened the reorganization of the community. A Reform congregation was established, nearer the fashionable centers of population in 1840. To meet this challenge, both the Sephardi and the Ashkenazi congregations established branch synagogues in the West End. Nathan Marcus *Adler, appointed in 1844, initiated a new period in the history of the Chief Rabbinate. Under his auspices, a modern theological seminary, *Jews' College, was founded in 1855, and a model charitable organization, the Board of Guardians for the Relief of the Jewish Poor, was established in 1859. In 1870 a union of the principal Ashkenazi congregations of the metropolis was formed under the title, the "*United Synagogue." Newer congregations in other parts of the metropolis later attached themselves to this organization, which is now perhaps the largest and the best organized of its kind in the world.
With the mass emigration from Russia which started after 1881, there was a great influx especially to London, and the population rose in the course of the next quarter of a century from some 47,000 to approximately 150,000, of whom about 100,000 lived in the East End. Thus, alongside the more or less "native" community, a new, essentially foreign, community grew up. A majority of the newcomers was absorbed by the tailoring, shoemaking, and cabinetmaking industries. Fresh charities were created to meet their requirements. A Yiddish press and an active trade union movement came into being. Numerous minor synagogues, with their related institutions, were created. In 1887 Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling) created the Federation of Synagogues to coordinate their religious activities. The strike of 10,000 Jewish tailors in London in 1889, lasting for six weeks, attracted great attention and ended the period of the unmitigated exploitation of the Jewish immigrants. The Royal Commission on Alien Immigration, as well as the various inquiries into slum life, dealt to a large extent with the conditions of the new Jewish life which had sprung up in the East End of London, and was arousing some antagonisms. The Aliens Act of 1905 stemmed the tide of immigration, though it continued in modified form until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The Jew of the East End, as he became more well-to-do, tended to move away to the newer suburbs, particularly in the northeast (Stamford Hill) and northwest (Golders Green), where important congregations sprang up. The progress of the Reform movement, indeed, was comparatively slow, though the radical Liberal Jewish Synagogue, which grew out of the Jewish Religious Union (1902), was established in 1910.
The period between the two wars witnessed a considerable economic and geographical expansion of London Jewry, as it attained a greater degree of well-being, extended its interests, and hastened the movement from the traditional center of the East End into the northern suburbs. At the same time, there was some degree of organizational consolidation. The United Synagogue, in particular, extended its activities. A communal center for the major London Jewish institutions and a Jewish museum were established at Woburn House in the Bloomsbury area. The beginning of the persecutions in Germany in 1933 brought about a considerable influx of refugees who did a good deal to stimulate certain aspects of London Jewish life and to consolidate the organization of the extreme Orthodox wing.
Antisemitic movements were active during the 1930s, notably Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. The "Blackshirt" march through London's East End in October 1936 provoked massive disorders which led to the Public Order Act banning the political use of uniforms. The Mosleyites' march left a deep impression on the consciousness of London Jewry.
Between the two world wars, London Jewry experienced its first substantial population shift from the East End, a trend heightened during World War II, when, due to long periods of enemy bombing and extensive damage to the inner districts of London, Jews (together with the rest of the population) moved in large numbers to less vulnerable areas further from the center. With a rise in the standard of living in Britain, considerable urban renewal and suburban development took place.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Jews, who by this time had generally risen rapidly on the socioeconomic scale, settled in ever-increasing numbers in suburban areas, particularly in the north and northwest of London. It has been estimated that the East End, which at the beginning of the 20th century contained about 125,000 Jews and in 1929 still had some 85,000 Jews, was left with no more than 30,000 Jews within a few years after World War II. The northwest London area alone was said to have contained some 85,000 Jews by 1950. The vast majority of Jews always lived to the north of the Thames, and by the end of the 1960s they were spread along and below a suburban arc stretching from Wembley, Harrow, Stanmore, and Edgware in the west through Finchley and Palmers Green in the north to Ilford in the east. Below this arc were heavy concentrations of Jews in what may be termed "gilded ghettos," such as Golders Green, or semi-decaying "zones of transition," such as Stamford Hill, where newer non-Jewish immigrants settled in the 1960s in increasing numbers. The total Jewish population of Greater London in 1970 was estimated at 280,000. (For figures for the mid-1990s, see below.)
The pattern of settlement and the movement of London Jewry were of particular importance for their effect on Jewish identification. Evidence suggests that throughout the 20th century, the directions of the major shifts were strongly influenced by developments in transport facilities vis-à-vis the place of work, that is the industrial and commercial areas in the city. The fanning out of the transport system and the improvement in highways, however, made incursions into the traditional pattern of settlement symbolized by the Jewish district. Whereas some of the new suburbs were still thickly inhabited by Jews – Edgware with 10,000 Jews representing 40% of the local population was a case in point – in 1970 there were larger numbers of Jews living in a more scattered fashion away from Jewish districts and throughout the Home Counties in and around Greater London. Not only was the lack of proximity to Jewish centers and the negative effects of living in predominantly non-Jewish areas bound to affect the identification of such Jews, but the problem also arose of how to cater to this more fluid and spread-out Jewish population fromthe organizational point of view.
Most observers of Anglo-Jewish life highlighted the fact that the community was over-organized, a situation that led to duplication, inefficiency, and waste. The organizational aspect of communal life came to the fore even more starkly in the case of London Jewry, first because it contained the headquarters of many organizations catering to Anglo-Jewry as a whole (e.g., Board of Deputies of British Jews, Anglo-Jewish Association, Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men, National Union of Hebrew Teachers, Jewish Initiation Society, Central British Fund for Jewish Relief, and so on), and secondly because the problems of organizational efficiency were greater in a large community, particularly one which had become more scattered. The latter point may best be illustrated by the fields of religious and educational organization. The closing of some synagogues in the older areas of London in the late 1960s, such as the branches of the United Synagogue in Dalston and Bayswater, was more than compensated by the construction of new synagogues in the many areas where Jews settled in the postwar period and more recent years. A proliferation of synagogues was further brought about by the fact that all the main synagogal bodies representing the various streams had their own building programs. Thus, most of the 200 synagogues in London belonged to the five major synagogal organizations. A somewhat similar situation obtained for day schools, which were in the hands of the London Board of Jewish Religious Education, the Zionist Federation, the Jewish Secondary Schools Movement, Yesodei Hatorah Schools, and the Lubavitch Foundation, plus a number of independent schools.
By contrast, there was greater efficiency and centralization in London in the sphere of welfare work. The London Jewish Welfare Board, which operated 19 homes for the aged and a host of other services for the needy, was the largest Jewish welfare institution in the country. London also had numerous societies concerned with the amelioration of physical and mental handicaps, e.g., the Jewish Blind Society, the
CULTURE AND RELIGIOUS LIFE
The leading part played by London Jewry in English Jewish life was particularly apparent in the cultural sphere. The largest number of publications on Jewish themes – newspapers, magazines, journals, or books – emanated from London, which also had ten libraries and museums with Jewish collections open to the public. The permanent residence of the chief rabbi engaged by the United Synagogue, the largest synagogal body in the country with a membership of 40,000 and 80 synagogues, further added to London's leading position. These factors generally had the effect of centralizing the administration of communal affairs. Thus, the Chief Rabbinate and its bet din tended to administer the religious life of large sections of provincial Jewry through other battei din and rabbis. The two leading bodies dealing with religious education, the London Board of Jewish Education and the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education dealing with the provinces, both operated from London. The pattern was similar in the political and philanthropic spheres. However, after World War II, and particularly in the 1960s, there was a growing trend toward decentralization. For example, the second largest synagogal body, the Federation of Synagogues, with 17,000 members in some 50 branches, as well as the smaller religious groups, i.e., the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, the Reform and Liberal movements, and the Sephardim, set up independent battei din. Growing decentralization was also manifest in other fields, including Jewish education, despite efforts, mainly from the center, to maintain some overall organizational unity in the Jewish community of Britain.
London's position appeared even less formidable when a number of other important facts were taken into account. Although strict Orthodoxy made important strides there, particularly through the growing strength of the ḥasidic groups in the Stamford Hill area, the largest and most successful yeshivah was in the small provincial community of Gateshead in the northeast corner of England. As for Jewish day schools, Manchester undoubtedly took the leading position. However, when London Jewry was set in the proper perspective in relation to the rest of Britain's Jewish community, it became clear that it was a very strong force not only in that community but in world Jewry.
Since the readmission of 1656 London has been the home of the largest Jewish community in Britain. In keeping with general demographic trends, the size and spread of London Jewry has changed since the 1970s. In terms of displacement London Jewry now constitutes "selected communities" as opposed to being a single entity. Greater London has expanded to include parts of Hertfordshire, Surrey, and Essex. Jewish migration within the capital has followed that expansion, in many instances crossing the green belt. There are now burgeoning communities in Radlett, Kingston, and Buckhurst Hill, districts which only 50 years ago had little or no Jewish presence. Within this area the largest concentration is located in the northwest London borough of Barnet. The second largest community is congregated to the east of London, in the borough of Redbridge. The Jewish community of Redbridge has access to London's only non-synagogue-based Jewish center.
Since 1970 London Jewry has expanded geographically but decreased numerically. The downward trend has been consistent since 1975, at which time the Jewish population numbered 221,000; by 1988 that figure had been reduced to 210,000, and by 2002 to 195,000. Overall the Jewish population of Britain fell from an all-time high of 420,000 in 1950 to 300,000 in 2002. The decline is attributable to a combination of factors: an excess of deaths over births, general social erosion as a result of increasing intermarriage, social and geographic movements away from community, and emigration.
During the 1990s London saw a continuation of the trend away from Jewish traditional central Orthodox synagogue membership toward both Progressive Judaism on the left and Ultra-Orthodox on the right. Mainstream Orthodoxy also lost members to the Masorti movement which was established in 1985 by Rabbi Louis Jacobs. There were six Masorti synagogues within the Greater London area.
The London Jewish community is still served by a broad range of welfare organizations though recently there has been a movement toward rationalization following the amalgamation of the Jewish Blind Society and the Jewish Welfare Board, plus a number of other small societies, into Jewish Care. This organization provides daily for over 5,000 needy individuals and their families. Plans are also in the pipeline to merge the capital's two major Jewish child care institutions, Norwood and Ravenswood. London's expanding elderly community is provided for by a number of residential homes which offer both independent and full-care facilities. One of the largest is Nightingale House (Home for Aged Jews) in southwest London, which accommodates over 400 residents.
[Anne J. Kershen]
Some Hebrew printing on wood blocks appeared in works printed in London from 1524, when a few isolated words and phrases figured in R. *Wakefield's Oratio de utilitate… trium linguarum. Movable Hebrew type was apparently first used in 1563 in W. Musculus' Common Places of Christian Religion, and consecutive Hebrew printing (a 14-line "sonnet") appeared in 1588 in a single-sheet broadside of poems in various languages by Theodore Beza celebrating the defeat of the Spanish Armada. In the 17th century a few books mainly or partly in Hebrew were published by Christian Hebraists, such as a Hebrew text of Psalms (1643), a vocalized text of Avot (1651), and Bryan *Walton's Polyglot Bible (1653–57). Communal controversies in the early 18th century produced the first Hebrew publications printed for (though not by) Jews, particularly the dispute that raged around haham David *Nieto's disputed Orthodoxy (1705) and a dispute concerning a divorce two years later (Aaron Hart's crudely produced Urimve-Tummim, 1707). In 1714 – 15, some works by Moses Hagiz and Joseph *Ergas aimed against the Shabbateans appeared in London, presumably because of the unfavorable atmosphere in Amsterdam; and in the same year Nieto's classical Matteh Dan was brought out by Thomas Ilive's printing house in three editions – in Spanish alone, Spanish and Hebrew, and Hebrew alone. Thereafter there was a long hiatus in London Hebrew printing, though Ephraim *Luzzatto's poems Elleh Benei ha-Ne'urim appeared there in 1766 with a reprint in 1768. In 1770, printing by and for Jews at last began, possibly in consequence of the removal of some trade restriction. A consortium of Jewish printers from Amsterdam (who, however, failed after a few years) set up a printing house which produced ambitious editions of the Jewish liturgy (3 vols., 1770; other eds., 1771, 1785) and many other works. Simultaneously, A. *Alexander began his printing activity which was continued by his son Levi (mainly liturgical works) well into the 19th century. Other printers, Jewish and non-Jewish, appeared in the following years. In 1820 J. Wertheimer set up his Hebrew press, which was active for over a century, subsequently under the name of Williams, Lea, and Company. With the increase in the London Jewish population, especially after the emigration from Eastern Europe from the 1880s onward, Jewish printers and printing in London proliferated, though learned works were mainly produced at the presses of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Roth, Mag Bibl, index; idem, England, index; Lehmann, Nova Bibl, index; E.N. Adler, [History of the Jews in] London (1930); M. Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue… Bevis Marks (1901); C. Roth, Federation of Synagogues (1947); idem, Great Synagogue, London, 1690–1940 (1950); A.B. Levy, East End Story (1951); A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951); idem, London Board for Shechita, 1804–1954 (1954); V.D. Lipman, Social History of the Jews in England (1954); idem, Century of Social Service (1959); idem, in: JHSET, 21 (1968), 78–103; idem, (ed.), Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish History (1961); A. Barnett, Western Synagogue through Two Centuries (1961); idem, in: JHSET, 20 (1964), 1–50; S. Stein, ibid., 63–82; A. Rubens, in: J.M. Shaftesley (ed.), Remember the Days (1966), 181–205; A. Ziderman, in: JJSO, 8 (1966), 240–64; E. Krausz, ibid., 10 (1968), 83–100; 11 (1969), 75–95, 151–63; R. Apple, Hampstead Synagogue (1967); A.S. Diamond, in: JHSET, 21 (1968), 39–63; C. Bermant, Troubled Eden (1969); J. Gould and S. Esh (eds.), Jewish Life in Modern Britain (1964); C. Duschinsky, Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue, London, from 1756–1842 (1921, 19712).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.