Influences on the standing of the Jews in England

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Improvement of Jewish relations[edit]

One reason for an improvement in the public image of the Jews at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th can be found in positive attitudes towards Jewish pugilists. A further cause for kindlier feeling on the part of at least the middle classes of Englishmen toward the Jews was supplied by the revival of conversionist hopes at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Misled doubtless by the tendency to desertion shown by not a few of the Sephardim, many evangelical Christians anticipated the conversion en masse of the Jewish population, and on the initiative of Lewis Way the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews was founded in 1809. This and kindred societies wasted large sums of money with indifferent results but, politically, they helped to increase sympathy for the Jews among the non-conformists, who formed the bulk of their contributors and were at the same time becoming a leading factor in the formation of Liberal policy.

British Israelism[edit]

Similarly, at a much later period the craze of British Israelism made many of the narrower Bible Christians more sympathetic toward the Jews. On the other hand, the great influence of Dr. Thomas Arnold in the Liberal ranks was ultimately directed against the Jewish hopes. The more Erastian he was, the more he desired to see the legislature exclusively Christian.

Rise of German Jewish community[edit]

In the meanwhile the lead among the English Jews was passing from the Spanish to the German section of the community. The bankers Goldsmid acquired both influence and culture, and their efforts to raise the community were soon to be supplemented by those of Nathan Rothschild, the ablest of Mayer Rothschild's sons, who had settled first in Manchester and afterward in London. The times were in a measure propitious for a new effort to remove the civil disabilities of the Jews. The example of France had not been without its effect. The rising tide in favour of religious liberty, as applied to dissenters generally and to Roman Catholics in particular, might have been expected to carry with it more favourable conditions for the Jews; but a long struggle was to intervene before "Englishmen of the Jewish persuasion" were to have equal rights with other Englishmen.

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