Our Society meets to-night for the nineteenth time to inaugurate a new session. It is the fifth time that, by your indulgence, the privilege of welcoming you has fallen to me. This privilege always gives me a peculiar satisfaction. It is one which cannot be entirely shared by those of my co-workers who have occupied this chair on other occa? sions, for, in addition to the deep interest I take in Anglo-Jewish history as such, I stand, as you know, in a certain parental relation to our Society which causes me to watch its progress with a very sincere pride and affection.
To the historical student accustomed to explore the dimly lit corri? dors of more or less remote centuries, nineteen years is not a long period. It is nevertheless quite long enough for the obscuration and distortion of facts and the growth of legends. We had some little experience of this four years ago, when the origin of our Society as well as of the Anglo Jewish Historical Exhibition of 1887 was the subject of a controversy in the newspapers. In the course of that controversy certain inferences were drawn from the available data which in themselves were quite fair and legitimate, though, as a matter of fact, they were not accurate. But for the fortunate circumstance that my friend, Sir Isidore Spielmann, and I were still in the land of the living, with memories unimpaired and? what is more important?with conclusive documentary evidence in our possession, a version of the origin of the Exhibition and the Society would have obtained currency, and perhaps acceptance, which would not only have been unhistorical, but would also have done an injustice to some of the persons concerned.
It would, I think, be a great pity if, while we are putting so much right in the history of the Anglo-Jewish community, we should allow our own small history to fall into neglect and doubt. Indeed, I am not sure that it would not compromise us in the eyes of our subscribers, for if we are unable to set forth clearly and unquestionably the facts of our own two decades of history, and that from failure to preserve the necessary evidence, the public might be justified in looking with some dubiety on our reconstruction of the larger episodes and more remote epochs of general Anglo-Jewish history, as well as upon our zeal for the preserva? tion of ancient documents. For these reasons it has seemed to me that I shall not unprofitably occupy you this evening if I devote my inaugural address to the story of the