Modern British Jewry

Modern British Jewry

Modern British Jewry

Modern British Jewry

Synopsis

This is an authoritative and comprehensive history of the Jews of Britain over the last century and a half. Geoffrey Alderman examines the social structure and economic base of Jewish communities in Victorian England and traces the struggle for emancipation. He analyses the effects of the large-scale immigration of the early twentieth century and charts the development of the Zionist movement in Britain. Professor Alderman takes his account up to the present day, exploring the concerns and self-image of contemporary Jewish communities in Britain and their place in an increasingly pluralist society. Based on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Modern British Jewry is a political, social, and intellectual history of British Jews which is critical, scholarly, and immensely readable. For this paperback edition Professor Alderman has added a new chapter examining contemporary themes and issues. REVIEWS `This is the definitive history of modern British Jewry. As such it deserves a wide reading', Choice `Written in a lively, engaging manner . . . it includes the first substantial treatment of events and trends in the interwar period and the half-century since World War II', American Historical Review `should appeal to a wide audience at different levels . . . it deserves the attention of most scholars and a space on most college library shelves', History `an important synthetic history of British Jewry . . . Alderman is a leader among the group of scholars who are now scrutinizing the experience of British Jews in the post-1945 era', Albion `an engrossing book, lucidly written, scrupulously annotated', New Statesman and Society `Alderman is an extraordinarily intelligent, thorough and original historian and an excellent writer', Australian Jewish News `More than a standard work, this is an exceptional work, a classic of its genre. Filled equally with drama and information, it puts the Jews firmly into the mainstream of British history', Times Higher Education Supplement `Professor Geoffrey Alderman writes with authority, his industry is impressive, his research is wide-ranging and thorough. He makes some startling revelations . . . Serious students of Jewish history will have serious arguments with it; but they will treasure it for its wealth of detail, its candour, and the light it throws on obscure corners of Jewish life' Jewish Chronicle `the first honest, scholarly study of modern Anglo-Jewry.' Simon Denison, Sunday Telegraph `highly readable ... His analysis of the 19th-century Jewish party affiliations is fascinating.' The Times `a detailed account of Jewish communal activities and quarrels.' Martin Gilbert, The Guardian 'Professor Alderman has resolved to 'expose the new reality' of Jewish history 'warts and all'' The Spectator 'This is by far the best book on its subject - immensely informed, thoroughly researched, supremely accurate, intelligently organized, and, in its discussion of communal rifts, admirably free of partisan bias. Alderman's book is refreshingly iconoclastic in its rejection of an old style of communal history ... briskly unapologetic work.' Times Literary Supplement

Excerpt

I was not trained as an historian of Anglo-Jewry, and although I met and enjoyed the company and hospitality of the late Dr Cecil Roth when I studied at Oxford I was not at that time tempted to follow him in researching and writing about the Jewish communities of Britain. It was while preparing a book on the British electoral system that I pondered why no one had ever confronted the development of Anglo-Jewish voting habits. I determined to repair this omission, and in due course wrote The Jewish Community in British Politics, published by Oxford University Press in 1983. Shortly after the appearance of this book the then honorary officers of the Federation of Synagogues (of which I am a lifelong member) commissioned me to write the Federation's centenary history, published in 1987, while an approach from the European Science Foundation led, eventually, to a study of London Jewry and London Politics 1889-1986, which Messrs Routledge published in 1989.

It is fair to say that each of these works has attracted controversy. My view is that I am merely one participant in a movement, a reaction to the public-relations history that British Jewry had been accustomed to read hitherto, and of which (it must be said) Cecil Roth had been an accomplished exponent. Roth History of the Jews in England, which Oxford University Press first published in 1941, virtually ended with Emancipation, in 1858. the period 1858-1905 was dismissed in four pages; the period after 1905 Roth did not regard as history at all.Albert Hyamson history of The Sephardim in England, which appeared ten years later, devoted precisely thirteen pages to the twentieth century, and left much unsaid into the bargain. Hyamson's excuse was that 'the historian ought never to deal or attempt to deal with events: of which he has a personal knowledge'. It was, I think, for the same reason that the History of the Jews in Britain since 1858, which was written by the late Dr Vivian Lipman (a pupil of Roth) and which was published posthumously in 1990, contained but fifteen pages on the development of Anglo-Jewry over the past fifty years; the sensitive issues . . .

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