M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart

In this paper I propose to survey some aspects of the career of Morris Harold Davis, one of the most colourful and, at the same time, enigmatic communal leaders who walked the Anglo-Jewish stage in the period between the two World Wars. Davis pursued two careers simultaneously. He was President of the Federation of Synagogues from 1928 to 1944; his presidency of that body therefore spanned the period when the Federation reached the height of its ascendancy in Anglo-Jewish affairs during the first century of its existence, but also when it began its long decline. Davis was in some measure responsible both for that ascendancy and, in some measure, for the decline. At virtually the same time he became the leading figure in the Stepney Labour Party, was Mayor of Stepney in 1930- 1, Labour Leader of Stepney Borough Council from 1935 to 1944, and one of the first Labour

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