Could a Jew Be a Gentleman in Victorian England?

ERI Building, Lecture Room G51
Monday 3 February 2014 (19:30-21:30)

Convenors: Dr Charlotte Hempel ( and Dr Isabel Wollaston (, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham.

In Britain, the question of citizenship for Jews - their legal integration into the nation – was not an explosive issue, as it was elsewhere. A more pressing problem for Jews (Jewish men, that is), one that was never definitively resolved, was the question of their rank in the social hierarchy and in the popular imagination. Could a Jew be a gentleman? Was Jewishness compatible with gentility? Part of the problem was the elasticity and ambiguity of the notion of gentility in English society more generally in the Victorian period. This lectures explores whether the notion was sufficiently flexible to encompass Jews (and, if so, which Jews) and how some Jews staked a claim to gentlemanly status.

Todd Endelman is Professor Emeritus of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, where he taught from 1985 to 2012. A specialist in the social history of modern European Jewry and Anglo-Jewish history, he is the author of The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830; Radical Assimilation in Anglo-Jewish History, 1656-1945; The Jews of Britain, 1656-2000; and Broadening Jewish History: Towards a Social History of Ordinary Jews. He recently completed a history of conversion and radical assimilation in modern Jewish history. 

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