Friday, 18 November 2011

"Remarkable for the haughtiness"

I found this gem on Google Books. It was published in The Living Age magazine in 1846. I think it gives an honest account of Sephardi Jewish disdain towards the Ashkenazim in mid-19th Century Britain. As a "Portuguese Jew of London" I can confirm that a healthy self-regard is still a characteristic of our community. Fortunately, under the influence of Moses Montefiore and others, the arrogance and disdain towards our Ashkenazi co-religionists disappeared over the following fifty years.

"The Portuguese Jews of London could never drop their national characteristic; they were remarkable for the haughtiness, their high sense of honour, and their stately manners. Subsequently, Jewish emigrants flocked from Germany, Poland and Barbary, a race in every respect of inferior rank. The Portuguese shrank from all contact with them; different synagogues separated them; and the Lusitanian Jew would rather have returned to the fires of Lisbon than have intermarried with the Jew of Alsace or Warsaw. The latter was humiliated by indigence, and pursued the meanest and not infrequently the most disreputable crafts. The former, opulent and high-minded, indolent, polished and luxurious, splendid in dress and equipage, felt himself disgraced by the beard and gabardine of the Polander."

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