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Lewis Way

(1773 – 1840)

British missionary. Way was educated at Eton and Oxford and became a barrister. At the age of 40, out of religious inclination, he became interested in Jews and Judaism and joined a British missionary society. He visited Jewish settlements in eastern Europe and came to the conclusion that the Jews should be granted civil rights and their economic situation improved, so that they would become attracted to Christianity. During his stay in Russia, Way heard about the interest of Czar *Alexander I in the conversion of Jews. In 1818, during the assembly of the heads of the European states (Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen)), he submitted several memoranda to Alexander I and other participants in which he suggested granting Jews equal rights and access to public office, compulsory military service, apportionment of land for Jewish agricultural settlement, and encouragement of the settlers through exemption from taxes and granting of loans. He suggested compelling poor Jews to teach their sons a craft, the opening of educational institutions to Jews, and the establishment of elementary schools for Jewish children. On the other hand, Way proposed taking strong measures against those Jews engaged in nonproductive professions. Under the influence of Alexander I the participants at the conference adopted a favorable attitude to Way's memoranda, though without any practical results. The memoranda were published in 1819 under the title Mémoire sur l'état des israélites dédiés a leurs Majestés Impériales et Royales réunies au congrès d'Aix-la-Chapelle. It probably had a certain influence on Czar *Nicholas I and his government in determining their Jewish policy.


J.F.A. de Le Roi. Geschichte der evangelischen Judenmission seit Entstehung des neueren Judentums (1899; = Die evangelische Christenheit und die Juden …, vols. 2–3, 1891), indexes; Dubnow, Divrei, 9 (19582), 90–91. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: ODNB online.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.