The Jewish Oratories of Cromwellian London

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24. Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England and Miscellanies Part I.

See Rev. Michael Adler's Index to Contents and Index of Authors, in Miscellanies, Part II, pp. 107-112.

The prefaces to Transactions, volumes i to ix, were from the pen of Israel Abrahams.

The Prefatory Notes to the Syllabi of University of London Extension Courses in Jewish History were also his work.

See e.g. Transactions, volume ix., Preface, pp. xiv-xx.

["I.A." was a Founder of the Society in 1893, Honorary Secretary 1893-1904, President 1904-1905, and Honorary Editor of Publications 1893-1925].

25. Valeurs Permanentes du Jud?isme par Israel Abrahams Talmudiste de l'Universite de Cambridge. Traduit de FAnglais par Constantin-Weyer.

F. Reider et Cie, fiditeurs, Paris. 1925.

(French edition of " Some Permanent Values in Judaism." Oxford, 1924.)

S. Levy.


The Jewish Oratories of Cromwellian London

On the 24th March, 1656, a Petition to Oliver Cromwell was headed by Menasseh ben Israel and signed also by six leading Sephardi Jews resident in London. In this notable document the Lord Protector is thanked for the protection which he had "bin pleased to graunt us in order that wee may with security meete privately in our particular houses to our devotions." The Petition goes on to request that "such protection may be graunted us in writing as that we may thereafter meet at our said private devotions in our particular houses without fear of molestation."1

1 L. Wolf, Menasseh ben Israels Mission, London, 1901. Introd., p. lxii.

I think that one may take that to mean just what it says. At all events it is the fons et origo of my presence here this evening to talk about "The Jewish Oratories of Cromwellian London," and an oratory is, of course, a chapel or small room set apart for private devotion.

Now it has only recently been established that a Synagogue in CreechuTch Lane was opened for public worship early in 1657,2 a lease of the building having been acquired by Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal, "the first English Jew," on the 19th December, 1656. A great deal has in the past been written by members of this Society about the secret places of worship of the Commonwealth Jews, and by the wording of Menasseh's Petition to Cromwell it is certainly established that some, if not all, of the signatories were in the habit of holding a "Minyan" (or religious quorum) in their residences.

As it is now clear that from its inception the Creechurch Lane Synagogue was conducted quite openly?at all events during the life? time of Oliver Cromwell?it seems desirable to examine afresh the available evidence as to the other places resorted to by Jews of the period either for private or for public worship.

have thus no sensational discoveries to present. There is, however, one historical fallacy which I hope to stamp out, and which was first expounded to this Society in 1902. It has since been propagated by most writers on Anglo-Jewish history. Here is the false doctrine:? ". . . there were two synagogues in London?one for the Sephardim in

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