Sport or Shul? Physical recreation, Anglo-Jewry and the Jewish Sabbath, ca. 1890-1939

Historians of British immigration have often noted that religious belief and observance is a “fundamental” component of migrant or minority ethnicity.1 This is seen to be especially true for the Jewish community who, hailing from many different regions and countries, often viewed religious organizations and customs as a provider of some form of collective identity. While it is incorrect to talk of one, unified Jewish community, attachment to religion is clearly a fundamental aspect of what identified Jews as Jews and what histor- ically defined Jewish ethnicity in the eyes of wider society.

By extension, if a weakening of attachment to religion occurs within a migrant/minority community, there is often believed to be an accompanying effect on that group’s ethnic identity. In the case of Anglo-Jewry, from the arrival of Russian Jewish immigrants from the late nineteenth century onwards, there is much evidence to suggest a marked decline in religious

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