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Wandering Jews in England’s Green and Pleasant Land
Thu 20 October 2016, 18:30 – 20:00 BST
There seems to be a consensus among historians of Anglo-Jewry that, in relation to Wissenschaft des Judentums (the critical investigation of Jewish literature and culture),Britain was something of an intellectual backwater, its academics originating from foreign lands and trained abroad, and its learning derived in large measure from the Continent. The fact that just before he abandoned England for New York, one of its most celebrated scholars of Judaism, Solomon Schechter, publicly castigated Anglo-Jewry’s ignorance and anti-intellectualism, does not help dispel the impression that its centres of Jewish learning were parochial and ineffectual, best regarded as transit stops for scholars moving on. Is this image of wandering Jews in England’s green and pleasant land a fair one? This lecture summarises the findings of a recent quixotic survey of Anglo-Jewish scholarship before the Second World War, that attempted to identify the key individuals and institutions, to indicate some of the ways that they related to each other and to continental influences, and to set it all out in chronological order.