SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS JEWISH NON-CONFORMITY: REPRESENTATIONS OF THE ANGLO-JEWISH EXPERIENCE IN THE ORAL TESTIMONY ARCHIVE OF THE MANCHESTER JEWISH MUSEUM

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Tereza Ward

Abstract

Histories of the Anglo-Jewish community have typically been written in terms of its ‘conforming majority’ but this is problematic on two grounds. Firstly, it excludes those deemed socially, religiously and politically nonconforming and omitted from communal records either deliberately or by default. Secondly, it presents a narrow view of the community, defined by its elites and captured in their sources. This thesis seeks to restore nonconforming individuals to the communal narrative and thus provide a more nuanced understanding of the Jewish community and the struggles of its members as they arrived in Manchester and adapted to their new environment, sometimes manifest in their dual identities as Jews and as Mancunians. The Manchester Jewish Museum oral testimony collection provides an ideal source for such restoration and through availability of sources determines the period of study to be between 1880 and 1945. Rather than accept a united community defined by consensus, this thesis illuminates the plurality of Jewish identities and experiences and the numerous sub-communities that existed in Manchester. These sub-communities were united in their identification as Jews, which was both self-selected and imposed on them from outside of the community but they differed and sometimes clashed in their understanding of social norms and values. The four chapters that make up the main body of this thesis focus on crime, political radicalism, marriage/intermarriage and disability and illness and consider how these challenged notional social norms of the elites, which represent communal leadership, wider communities and localities, and individual families. The varied and conflicting responses to these types of nonconformity further complicate the idea of consensus, not just within the wider Jewish community but also within the individual sub-communities which typically displayed greater inner cohesion. The result of this study is not only greater understanding of the Jewish community, outside of preconceived patterns but also more fluid and nuanced model of nonconformity in the community. Nonconformists, though they might have, by the virtue of their intermarriage, disability or political radicalism fallen into the same category, were nevertheless motivated by different factors and this affected both their understanding and interpretation of the community and their place within it and also their communities’ response to them.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2019