Sussex Hall (1845-59) and the revival of learning among London Jewry*

‘[I]n the history of the Jewish people, no circumstance can be more signifi? cant and worthy of record than the formation of such an Institution’, trum? peted the Hebrew Observer in 1854, while Grace Aguilar, a young Jewish novelist, painted the same ‘Institution’ in equally glowing and optimistic terms: Sephardi and Ashkenazi ‘Jews meet on common ground; classes, lec? tures, and an excellent library are open alike to the artisan, the tradesman, the merchant, the professor, and the idler; and from the eagerness with which all classes avail themselves of the advantages afforded by the Institution, it would appear that its value [is] duly appreciated.’1 The insti? tution to which both writers referred was the Jews’ and General Literary and Scientific Institution (hereafter JGLSI), generally known as Sussex Hall, which was strategically located on Leadenhall Street. For many contempo? raries, including the two writers just cited, Sussex Hall was the

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