Monthly Archives: August 2013

Join us for a pop-up display of exceptional books and objects from the Arthur Sebag-Montefiore Archive illustrating various aspects of the life of Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), one of the most admired figures in the Anglo-Jewish community. The display is curated by Dr Piet van Boxel and will take place alongside the 120th anniversary conference of the Jewish Historical Society of England.


Toleration within Judaism, Martin Goodman, Joseph E. David, Corinna R. Kaiser and Simon Levis Sullam (Oxford: Littman Library, 2013)

ImageCo-authored by our Professor of Jewish Studies, Martin Goodman, this latest publication from the Littman Library traces the concept of toleration within the Jewish faith over the past 2000 years. This book does not present a warm and sentimental form of Tolerance and harmony, but is a frank and honest portrayal of toleration and at times tensions within the Jewish community. This book acknowledges the diversity within Judaism and explores the ways in which these differences have been negotiated, including Josephus’ representation of the Sadducees and Pharisees. Goodman writes that Josephus avoids going into great detail about the relationship between differing Jewish Philosophies, and suggests that this was an act of diplomacy. Goodman concludes:

 The coexistence of such Jews in the Jerusalem Temple is evidence not of co-operation but of a sort of grumbling mutual tolerance which was to recur at later stages in the history of Judaism. (p. 44)

Kaiser in the final chapter examines the increasing use of tripartite seating patterns in today’s Jewish community, which allow multiple Jewish denominations to worship in accordance with their own beliefs simultaneously. This chapter explores the effect of this changing notion of toleration, namely that religious practise is more personalised and therefore more fragmented. Furthermore that tolerance becomes voluntary rather than enforced which can polarise some religious groups.




We constantly receive new titles in English and Hebrew; these are available from the ‘New acquisitions’ bookcase at the entrance to the reading room and can be borrowed. The books are frequently rotated so remember to check the shelves regularly. Here are some other new books in our English collection:

Jewish Symbols and Secrets: A Fifteenth-century Spanish Carpet, Anton Felton (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2012)
A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury: The life and times of Samuel Koleliansky, Gayla Diment (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011)
Süssen is now free of Jews: World War II, the Holocaust, and Rural Judaism, Gilya Gerda Schmidt (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012)
The Pinnacle of Hatred: The Blood Libel and the Jews, Darren O’Brien (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2011)


Acquired in 2006, the archive in greater part consists of some 350 letters written to Sir Moses Montefiore between the early 1820s and his death in 1885. These reflect his deep involvement in political aspects of Jewish affairs and include letters from the Foreign Office lending support in his efforts to defend Jews in peril and to enhance their lives. There is also a range of diaries and travel reports –the earliest dated 1827– by Sir Moses, Lady Judith and others, equally illuminating. Of particular interest is his report on a journey to Russia in 1872 to intercede with Tsar Alexander II on behalf of the Jews. The archive also contains extensive documentation on the ‘Damascus Affair’, in which Jews were falsely accused in 1840 of the ritual murder of a Capuchin monk, and on the ‘Mortara Case’, the abduction and forced conversion of a Jewish child in Rome. Sir Moses’s intervention in Damascus resulted in a Firman being issued by the Sultan in Constantinople disclaiming the ritual-murder libel and ensuring protection for the Jews. Other documents include letters from King Louis Philippe of France and Prince Carol of Romania.


Copyright restricted. Do not download or distribute.

To browse the Sebag-Montefiore Archive, check our our online catalogue.