An Anglo-Jewish Family

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I PROPOSE this evening to sketch for you the story of an Anglo-Jewish family, one familiar to all of you by name, to many in person, which may be taken to some extent as typical of the families, British for three generations or more, that help to make up the Anglo-Jewry of today. I do not suggest that the story of this family is typical of all or of most of the families that were active and flourished in England a century ago, nor still less is it typical of most of the families whose members are today active in Anglo-Jewish affairs. But it is typical of a group of families with whom the care of Jewish interests in England rested a century and a century and a half ago, who, with single-hearted devotion, successfully shouldered their responsibilities, and, although they did not perhaps conform in detail to what it is the custom today to describe as democratic standards, were yet fully representative of the Community, interpreted its wishes, furthered all its reasonable desires and enjoyed its complete confidence. The story of this family and of others, its contemporaries, covers the great period of Anglo Jewish history : great in the sense that the influence of Anglo-Jewry was active for good throughout the Jewish world, great in the fact that the standing of and respect for Anglo-Jewry was at its pinnacle in non-Jewish as well as in Jewish circles everywhere, great in the sense that?and in this respect in common with the people of England as a whole?the standard of contentment and therefore of real happiness and of real comfort was probably higher than it had ever been previously or has been since.

The era in Jewish history covered by the story of this family coincided with that of the long deferred attainment of the realization of an ideal that had possessed the thoughts and dreams of a large part of European and of British Jewry. The story opens in what may be termed the ghetto period of Jewish history and, like all the histories of Anglo-Jewish families, it opens on the Continent, the home of its ancestors for almost 2,000 years. It covers the era of emancipation. Its earlier members were compelled to limit their public activities to the concerns of their own smaller community. The centre of these activities was necessarily in the synagogue?but the synagogue in the widest sense,?that of the centre of Jewish life. Step by step, in this country, from generation to generation, the limitations on the public activity of Jews were removed and with the loosening of every restriction the public-spirited activities of the members of this family extended. Generation by generation, almost year by year, they became to a greater and greater extent British citizens in the widest sense. But entry into this wider sphere did not lessen their responsibilities, or diminish their realization of them, to the smaller community of which they were also members. They took their share in the work of

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