Saturday, September 12, 2015

England: Where Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews Came Together in Suffering

Notice that Jews were expelled from England for 365 years, from 1290 to 1655.  Why all the expulsions?  Because Jews were not Christians, that's why.  People had been taught to hate Jews.  
Nadene Goldfoot                                                                
There isn't much history of Jews living in England until the Norman conquest in 1066 after which a handful of financiers had followed William the Conqueror from the Continent of Europe where Jews had lived in France and Germany.   "William the Conqueror's victory at the battle of Hastings in October 1066 was followed by six years of campaigning, which irrevocably established the new king's grip on England. In the succeeding decades, the Norman kings and their followers expanded their power into Wales and Lowland Scotland.  Rashi, the Jewish biblical commentator,  lived in Troyes, France and Worms, Germany. (1040 to 1105 during this memorable period)."  

In the next generation, communities were established in London, York, Bristol, Canterbury and others.  They traded, lent money to the baronage, and above all, advanced funds for current needs on the security of the revenue to the Crown, which protected them.
2nd Crusade
1st Crusade
There were 2 Crusades led by the crown into Palestine to take Jerusalem from the Arabs who had taken it from the Romans who had taken it from the Jews, but the Crusaders killed Jews along with Arabs there.  Going through Europe on their way to Palestine, the Crusaders slaughtered Jews.

By 1144 a Ritual Murder accusation was brought against Jews in Norwich, but what did Englishmen know about Jews?  Nothing, since Jews abhor the idea of anyone eating blood of any animal let alone a human's blood.  It is so against the Laws of Kashrut (Jewish laws about food) that only certain portions of an accepted animal such as a cow can be eaten, and then by a lot of soaking in salt water to wash away any trace of blood plus cooking it to being over-cooked.  You'd think they'd stop to try to find out something more about Jews other than they had money to lend.
At the time of the 3rd Crusade of 1189-1190, there were riots all over the country along with much bloodshed of Jews, especially in London and York where their business bonds were burned.  One wonders if this wasn't led by the Crown so that they didn't have to pay back anything.  To avoid this from happening again, a system of registration of Jewish debts was set up in 1194 with Archae or chirograh chests in all the principal cities under the control of a central Exchequer of the Jews.  This made possible the systematic exploitation of Jewish resources by merciless taxation during the reign of  John (1199-1216) and Henry III (1216-1277).
Jewish home in Lincoln, England
The enforced sternness of Jewish creditors in taking their dues resulted in growing unpopularity evidenced in the Ritual Murder case of Hugh of Lincoln in 1255 and the attacks on Jews during the Barons' Wars of 1263-1265.  "Hugh was known as Little Saint Hugh to distinguish him from Saint Hugh of Lincoln, an adult saint. The style is often corrupted to Little Sir Hugh. Little Saint Hugh became one of the best known of the blood libel saints: generally children whose deaths were interpreted as sacrifices committed by Jews."  This was a form of anti-Semitism.  Non-Jews knew nothing about Jews as this shows.  No Jew would use blood of any human for any reason.  It is deplorably disgusting!  
1182 expulsion of French JewsIn the year 1290, the last of the 16,000 Jews expelled by King Edward I left England. King Edward had banned usury and forced Jews over the age of seven to wear a badge identifying them as Jews.  
 Italian bankers existed and were competitors now so the Jewish bankers were not really needed.  Their rights were progressively restricted from 1269 on, and in 1290, they were expelled from the country.    This followed the expulsion of Jews from France in 1182, almost 100 years earlier.  Medieval English Jewry probably never exceeded more than 5,000 Jews.  
Jews expelled from England in 1290

During this Middle Period from 1290 to 1655, a duration amounting to 365 years, no Jews lived officially in England.  By the 16th century, there was a Marrano colony in existence which was discovered and broken up in 1609.  (Marranos were former Jews who had converted to Christianity through force, and most still practiced Judaism as best they could, like not eating pork, not working on Saturdays, etc.)  

Finally, in  1655, Manasseh ben Israel went to negotiate with Oliver Cromwell for the readmission of the Jews.  He had only a partial success, but from then on, the presence of the new Marrano group was connived at and received official recognition in 1664.  
Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658, "General and Lord Protector."Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.  I daresay he was not welcome in Catholic Ireland.  

The original Sephardi community was now populated by Ashkenazi immigrants from Germany and Central Europe who established their first synagogue in London in 1690 and then spread to the rest of the country.  

They found there were no more important restrictions on the Jews, and no ghetto system was enforced as in Europe.  After 365 years, violence against them was a thing of the past, even the JEW Bill controversy of 1753 lead to no serious molestation.  "During the Jacobite rising of 1745, the Jews had shown particular loyalty to the government. Their chief financier, Sampson Gideon, had strengthened the stock market, and several of the younger members had volunteered in the corps raised to defend London. 

Possibly as a reward, Henry Pelham in 1753 brought in the Jew Bill of 1753, which allowed Jews to become naturalized by application to Parliament.   It passed the Lords without much opposition, but on being brought down to the House of Commons, the Tories made protested against what they deemed an "abandonment of Christianity." The Whigs, however, persisted in carrying out at least one part of their general policy of religious toleration, and the bill was passed and received royal assent."   After being allowed to enter England in 1690, they were not allowed to become citizens for 63 years!  
"Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st BaronetFRS (Leghorn, Italy, 24 October 1784 – 28 July 1885) was a British financier and banker, activist, philanthropist and Sheriff of London. Born to an Italian Jewish family, he donated large sums of money to promote industry, business, economic development, education and health amongst the Jewish community in the Levant (modern day Israel)."

By the 19th century, Sir Moses Montefiore was active as a knighted Jew.  He took a leading part in Jewish philanthropy. 
 Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild was a British banker and politician. He became the first practising Jew to sit as a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

 From 1829 onward,  reasons to hold back the Jews were erased, partly from his good works and Lionel de Rothschild was admitted to parliament in 1858.  From 1881, the older community was strongly reinforced by an immigration of refugees from Russian pogroms.  They soon adapted themselves to the English Jewish way of life under the Chief Rabbi, Board of Deputies of British Jews, and in London, the United Synagogue.  Coming from Russia's Pale of Settlement, they would have been observing the Orthodox way, only to find that England had gone either conservative or reformed in most cases.  

New communities of importance existed in Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester and other places. 

 More Jews arrived from Germany in 1933 to 1939 which helped to stimulated a weak and short-lived organized anti-Semitic movement.  England was the only important European country to escape the Nazi persecutions of the Holocaust, but the air bombardment of the principal cities and scattering of the Jewish population changed and weakened the traditional Jewish life in many cases.

My grandfather (1870-1912) Nathan Goldfus moved to England from Lithuania before 1900 and anglicized his name to Goldfoot.  He then moved to Dublin, Ireland where he found some Lithuanian relatives, and after a few months hopped a boat to Canada and finally reached Council, Idaho of all places.                               

The Jewish population of Great Britain with Northern Ireland included is estimated to have been 330,000 in 1990.  It dropped by 2011 to 263, 346.  I had met several English Jews in Israel from 1980-1985 who had made aliyah when I had, too.  Evidently they were allowed to have dual citizenship like us Americans, but I remember one friend from England who was under the assumption that if he accepted Israeli citizenship he would lose his English citizenship, and that he didn't want to do. I guess he had misunderstood the rules.   An American couple I knew did give up their American citizenship.  

Resource:  The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia; England

1 comment:

  1. My Jewish friend from England told me that the house in Lincoln was owned by Aaron of Lincoln. It was King Richard, I believe, or his brother, King John, who wanted Aaron to loan him money and threatened him that he would pull all his teeth if he didn't give him the money he needed. Aaron didn't have the money and his teeth were pulled. There have been lots of horrid stories that happened I had to leave out; like the Rabbi of Worms who saw his wife and daughter killed before his eyes by Crusaders that had burst into his house in Germany.