German Rabbis in British exile and their influence on Judaism in Britain

Zajdband, Astrid (2015) German Rabbis in British exile and their influence on Judaism in Britain. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis identifies the German rabbinate in British exile as a distinct refugee sub-group
and traces its experiences from the onset of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s to those in Britain,
ending in 1956 It argues that the rabbinate rose to unprecedented prominence under the Nazi
regime as it was part of the communal leadership structure within German Jewry and
maintained this role in the early years in exile. It was found that the end of the war and the
vanishing of outside pressures impacted on the German rabbinate changing it into a different,
modern, Anglo-Jewish institution, with German roots and influences. With the changed
demands of the Anglo-Jewish population on their rabbis and the ageing German rabbis passing
on, the heritage was transferred into Anglo-Jewish institutions such as newly founded
synagogues and the Leo Baeck College. This had been facilitated through the rigorous training
and the powerful experiences of the immigrant rabbis which gave the impact for religious
expansion in Britain. Their influence turned the progressive but also the orthodox movement
into a powerful force in the Anglo-Jewish landscape today.

On a personal level the study uncovered that despite their prominence, the experiences of
the German rabbinate in British exile unfolded along the same lines as that of the general
refugee population fleeing Nazism. In their leadership capacity however most rabbis were able
to reclaim their position in the midst of the refugees, the remnants of their former communities
now in exile. With that they held responsibility and power. Their attempts of transplanting and
maintaining the German Jewish heritage in Britain was a desperate and only marginally
successful undertaking with only few traces still recognizable today. Their attempts had a
dramatic influence on the course and future of Anglo-Jewry.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2015 14:32
Last Modified: 10 May 2018 06:16
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/54352

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