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618 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND: ITS 
DIFFICULTIES AND ITS DUTIES. 

It is scarcely necessary to start this article by an attempt 
at definition. The kind of Judaism which the word " liberal " 
is intended to imply will become adequately clear in the 
sequel. For the present I will merely assume that the 
term has a real, and more or less definite meaning. But 
if I evade definition at the outset, I hope that otherwise 
I shall be able to make my words and phrases plain. The 
subject is too important for ambiguity. 

It is tolerably certain that there are many persons in 
England who may rightly be described as liberal Jews, 
though their attachment or relation to Judaism may 
vary from close to remote. But these liberal Jews have 
no organization or coherence. It can hardly be said that 
the so-called reform synagogue in London, with its allies 
in Manchester and Bradford, fulfils such an end. A large 
number of the London and Manchester members at any 
rate, including some of the most earnest and prominent, 
would repudiate the appellation " liberal " in the sense in 
which it will be used in this article. It seems therefore 
true to say that liberal Judaism in England has no organized 
expression or embodiment. 

It may be asked : What are the reasons for this lack 
of organization? Are the liberal Jews so tiny a minority 
that they must remain as scattered units among a vast 
and organized majority of conservatives 1 This is unlikely ; 
in London alone there would in all probability be more 
than enough "liberal" Jews to found and maintain a 
large synagogue of their own. The true explanation must 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 619 

rather be sought in a number of considerations, not 
all of which are wholly creditable to the "liberal" Jews 
themselves. 

(1) A new movement requires a master mind, an urgent 
apostle, to take the lead and show the way. Such a person 
has not yet arisen amongst us. Meanwhile, though a large 
number of persons feel, more or less consciously, that the 
position of conservative Judaism is as untenable as its 
embodiment is unattractive, they are by no means agreed 
as to what should or could be put in its place. They 
realize, more or less fully, the great complexity of the 
problem, the intricacy and delicacy of the whole matter. 
They are (more or less consciously) perplexed, harassed 
and benumbed by the difficulties of "reform," by the diffi- 
culties which every suggested form of liberal Judaism, 
whether in theoretic expression or in outward embodi- 
ment, presents to the critical understanding. It is tolerably 
easy to know what " liberal Judaism " does not or 
cannot mean; it is far less easy to decide what it does. 
For within its borders there is doubtless included a con- 
siderable divergency of opinion and belief. And this 
variety would naturally make concerted action more 
difficult, or even hinder its inception. 

(2) There exists a great dislike of strife and disunion. 
It is so far easier to abstain and do nothing. There are 
"conservative" members of the family to be considered. 
Pain would be inflicted upon a near relative. A mere 
abstention from synagogue causes no disturbance or irrita- 
tion ; to attend a synagogue where the service was entirely 
in English would be far more disliked ; to be instrumental 
in founding such a one would be worst of all. Most persons 
shrink from family feuds and from the infliction of pain. 
Liberals, not unnaturally, are able to sympathize with and 
to appreciate the conservative position ; the conservatives 
show a perhaps equally natural incapacity to understand 
the position of liberals. 

(3) The time is considered inopportune. (And what a 



620 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

relief it is when difficult action can be indefinitely post- 
poned on the cogent ground of inopportunity !) It is 
argued that the practical problems which beset the com- 
munity are so grave and large that nothing should be done 
to divide and disunite. Theoretical questions must be post- 
poned till a more convenient season. Practical workers of 
every shade of opinion must combine to tackle practical 
difficulties. Again, when the condition of the Jews in 
foreign countries is so grave as it is now, the time is 
unsuited for contentious movements. English Jews in 
particular must present a united front in order, when 
occasion offers, to help their brethren in faith upon the 
continent of Europe or in other lands. The measure of truth 
in this argument is apparent to all. 

(4) It must also be admitted that there are many 
" liberal " Jews, who may rightly be dubbed as " indiffer- 
entists." Religion does not appeal to some ; to others 
Judaism is far off and uninteresting. There are many, 
in all probability, who are dissatisfied with that which 
is, but who would not put themselves to any trouble or 
inconvenience in order to seek a remedy. They will remain 
quietly discontented and distant, while their children may 
be expected to drop off more completely still, or to join 
other religious denominations. 

These four reasons give a tolerably comprehensive ex- 
planation for the unorganized condition of liberal Judaism. 
It cannot be said that I have attempted to depict the 
situation too favourably. Let me now indicate the dangers 
and drawbacks which the present condition of affairs 
involves and implies. 

(1) From the religious point of view, a considerable 
number of Jews are becoming, gradually but increasingly, 
alienated from the community. No religious body can 
view a fact of this kind with equanimity or unconcern. 

(2) Some of these Jews may become lost to religion. 
Some may continue religious in one of two ways : either 
theymay join some other religious body (e.g. the Unitarians), 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 62 1 

or they may be capable of preserving religion in their own 
lives and souls without any close relation to any particular 
denomination and without any outward or definite " forms." 
It is true that an unattached religiousness such as this may 
be of the purest kind and of the highest worth ; but herein 
lies the gist of the third drawback or evil of the present 
situation. 

(3) A considerable amount of potential, and a certain 
amount of developed religiousness and spirituality are 
actually being lost to the community and to Judaism. 
Both the possibilities, or rather both the actualities, here 
mentioned are grievous to contemplate. If many Jews are 
becoming non-religious, who could have been kept within 
the religious fold by an organized presentation of liberal 
Judaism, the responsibility resting upon the liberals is 
great. Moreover, the non-religious Jew is beset by peculiar 
temptations. Having lost his religion, he too often 
becomes a materialist. The other phases of idealism, 
outside of religion, do not in many cases adequately attract 
him. The highest idealism being lost, no lower form 
seems able even partially to supply its place. That the 
Jew, whose very existence stands for religion and for 
nothing else at all, should be lost to religion is a crying 
anomaly ; it is a disgrace, almost a scandal. Scarcely less 
sad, though far less serious for humanity as a whole, is it 
to think that Judaism is not only unable to foster and 
develop all potential religiousness within its own borders, 
but that some developed religiousness of a high order is 
actually lost to the Jewish stream. It is not indeed lost 
to the world. " Spirits are not finely touched but to fine 
issues." But it is lost to Judaism. It does not fructify 
and improve it. It does not increase the spiritual store, 
it does not raise the religious level, of the community 
itself. To every reader of this article there are probably 
known two or three persons to whom the foregoing 
sentences closely and pre-eminently apply. That they live 
their religious life outside of the community and of Judaism 



622 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

does not in their case impair its worth ; it is the community 
and Judaism which are the losers. 

May we provisionally use the term "liberal Jews" to 
indicate the persons (admittedly a considerable number) 
to whom the Jewish religion, as it is currently expounded, 
and as in outward form and embodiment it actually exists, 
does not seem to appeal? Of these persons, some, being 
more or less indifferent to religion altogether — their interests 
or even their ideals lie in other directions — would hardly 
seem to belong to the category under review. Even as 
to them the grave question still, however, remains : to 
what cause is their present indifference due ? Others 
again may be justly called "religious," but their religion 
is more or less independent of, and, as they think, unrelated 
to Judaism. Those who form the first two divisions 
might perhaps be called " nominal " Jews. A third divi- 
sion includes all those who, as regards their religion, 
feel convinced that it is both "liberal" and Jewish. 
Strictly, the term " liberal Jews " should be only applied 
to these, but, as an actual fact, the persons who are 
included in the second and third divisions shade off into 
each other, and are not separated by any hard and fast 
lines. To many in the second division sentiment (more 
racial than religious perhaps, but yet not racial only) 
takes the place of reasoned conviction. But a more or 
less definite Jewish consciousness is the result. 

Now let us ask, generally, what are the causes of the 
dissatisfaction of the liberal and nominal Jews with 
existing Judaism ? The answer is complicated. Doubtless 
the fundamental reason would be that belief in many of 
the tenets of orthodox Judaism has waxed cold. In the 
present age of religious doubt and uncertainty, the same 
influences which alienate the Christian from the Church 
alienate the Jew from the Synagogue. But in the case of 
the Jews there are other reasons of a different kind. Of 
these we have first to speak. For one has to remember 
that definite and reasoned beliefs are not the property of 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 623 

many. For one person who has become a nominal Jew 
because he no longer believes in miracles, there are ten 
who drop off from those other reasons which we have now 
to consider. 

It will be convenient to preface the subject by asking 
one more question: Why do so many of those "liberal" 
Jews, who are not indifferent to religion altogether, yet 
seldom or never attend public worship in a synagogue ? 

Now one must not confound attachment to Judaism 
with attendance at Synagogue. There are many persons, 
not only religious, but possessed of a Jewish religious 
consciousness, who under existing circumstances do not 
eare to attend the Synagogue services. But Synagogue 
attendance has, nevertheless, a double signification. First 
of all, those persons who have lost their Jewish religious 
consciousness do also cease to enter the Synagogue ; and, 
secondly, a prolonged abstention from the Synagogue 
may cause or accelerate the loss of the Jewish religious 
consciousness as well. For the Synagogue service is the 
outward symbol of the corporate sense — the sense of be- 
longing to a community, to a distinct religious brotherhood. 
One can indeed retain a vivid sense of being religiously 
a Jew without the Synagogue, but as human nature is, 
and as we Jews live now, it is difficult, and needs very 
anxious and deliberate care. I shall later on have to 
urge that under existing circumstances, when on the one 
hand the existing Synagogue services are so unsympathetic 
to many, and on the other hand the chance of successfully 
organizing more "liberal" services seems as yet so small, 
this anxious and deliberate care has become a most solemn 
and urgent duty. But this is to anticipate. 

I have often asked an old and dear friend of mine, who 
is one of the class now under discussion, to write an 
article for this Review called: "Why I do not go to 
Synagogue." He has expressed his willingness to do this 
if the article may be anonymous. It is the old story. 
That he does not attend Synagogue does not pain his 



624 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

relatives, or at any rate, they have grown completely ac- 
customed to the situation. That he should give his reasons 
would, however, cause them pain. Under the rule by which 
anonymous articles are not accepted in this Review, my 
request fell through ; if my friend reads this paper, I hope 
he will find that I have included some, if not most, of the 
reasons which he himself — a far better authority ! — would 
have given us. 

(1) The first reason doubtless is that the services are 
conducted in Hebrew. Rightly or wrongly, of necessity 
or through indifference, many English Jews are imperfectly 
acquainted with Hebrew, and quickly forget what they 
learned as children. Hebrew is no longer an attraction ; 
on the contrary it is a deterrent. 

(a) The service itself is found to be uninteresting. 
A large part of it is taken up by the Reading of the Law, 
which is often dull and unspiritual. The method of read- 
ing makes the portion even longer than it need other- 
wise be. 

(3) There is too little modernity or concession to western 
ideas and feelings. There is no organ ; the singing is poor ; 
there are no English hymns in which the congregation 
can join. 

(4) The sexes are separated. The wife cannot sit by her 
husband ; the mother cannot sit by her son. Orientalism 
pervades the service. 

(5) The general result is unsatisfying to many. Hence 
the suspicion arises as to whether an unsatisfied attendant 
at Synagogue had not better become a regular abstainer. 
Is he not playing the part of a hypocrite, professing or 
appearing to believe what he does not believe, and injuring 
rather than advancing the cause of morality and truth? 
"What good," it is asked, "in the higher sense of the 
word, does the Synagogue do to me ; and what good, in 
the higher sense of the word, do I do to others by attending 
its services ? " 

(6) In this catalogue of reasons it would be cowardly 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 625 

to ignore the question of Saturday. Most of our leaders 
shut their eyes to its gravity. But the policy of the ostrich, 
though convenient, is also dangerous. What the right 
solution is it is extremely difficult to see; and for the 
present the unsatisfactory status quo may be less dangerous 
than any measure of change. But where one member of 
a family — and especially its head — is regularly absent from 
Synagogue, it is inevitable but that his example should 
have a serious influence upon all the rest. 

I will not discuss how far all these objections are well 
founded. That there is some truth in them can hardly be 
denied. A reason, often perhaps overlooked, why they have 
special force with many liberal and cultivated persons is 
that the Synagogue is contrasted with the chapel or the 
church. Some who are not disturbed by differences of 
dogma find their religious feelings better stimulated by 
a beautiful service in a church ; others, to whom Jewish 
and Christian Monotheism seem merely temporary varieties 
of an eternal reality above them both, are not unnaturally 
attracted by the simple, intelligible, and modern service of 
a Unitarian chapel. This last consideration is connected 
with a more general feeling about Judaism as a whole 
that it is an essentially oriental religion, which does not 
harmonize with the other sides and aspects of our full- 
fledged western lives. There are, for instance, aesthetic 
elements in Judaism, but they are not suited to western 
conditions and minds. Some rites are unaesthetic altogether. 
Contrast, for example, the initiatory rites of baptism and 
circumcision. The dogmas and the narratives which under- 
lie both may be equally untrue ; but the one is capable 
of spiritualization, the other is not. Circumcision, con- 
nected as it is with primordial ideas and practices of a 
highly superstitious and barbarous kind, is a great stum- 
blingblock for modern minds, whether from the aesthetic, 
the spiritual, or the critical point of view. 

These considerations pave the way for the more general 
reasons of the dissatisfaction felt by many liberal or nominal 



626 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Jews with existing Judaism. Dissatisfaction is perhaps 
not altogether the right word : in many cases one might 
more accurately speak of aloofness or estrangement. 

Before the days of emancipation, before the days when 
in school and university and club, in business and charity, 
in public affairs and social intercourse, the Jew began to 
mix freely with the Christian ; in older days still, when the 
Jew did not read non-Jewish books or think non-Jewish 
thoughts, his life and environment were all of a piece. How 
different from now. There are many English Jews whose 
surroundings are almost completely non-Jewish. In addition 
to the influences of school and college, their friends, their 
work, their interests are all away and aloof from Judaism. 
The books they read are wholly non-Jewish. Their real 
religion is perhaps largely obtained from poets, such as 
Browning and Tennyson. Official Judaism is quite remote 
from their lives and thoughts ; they know very little about 
it. Some persons there are whose minds are so constituted 
that they are unperceptive of disharmonies ; there are others 
again whose minds are, as it were, made up of several and 
separate compartments. They do not want their religion, 
whether as doctrine or as outward form, to be related to 
the rest of their lives. But to the larger number the dis- 
sonance is (more or less consciously) disagreeable and 
unsatisfactory. Judaism does not seem as yet to have 
fully adapted itself to the changed conditions under which it 
has to live. Perhaps it has not fully realized that a man's 
real and vital religion is moulded and enriched nowadays 
from many other sources than the Bible, public worship, 
or ceremonial exercises. Conversation, reading (whether 
it be of poets, philosophers, essayists, novelists, or what 
not), music and painting, all contribute. These ex hypo- 
thesi, in the cases now under consideration, are mainly 
non- Jewish. If a man is not receptive to their influences, 
so far as religion is concerned, he may become non-reli- 
gious altogether. If he is receptive to them, the religion 
he acquires may be, if not im-Jewish, at all events 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 627 

independent of the Synagogue or even of Judaism. It is 
not therefore to be wondered at that the number of 
" nominal " Jews should tend to increase. Any organized 
creed which desires to keep its hold upon those born 
within its pale must reckon with these other sources 
of religion, and either harmonize with them, or counteract 
or control them. Judaism, as the small minority, cannot 
achieve the third. There remains harmony or counter- 
action. The second can no longer be attempted with 
success for those for whom it would be most required. 
But is not harmony still feasible ? 

We have to press the probing knife still deeper. For 
many of us are aware that this feasibility is denied 
by most persons of education and thought who are out- 
side the Jewish limits. They think that Judaism cannot 
become a religion for the West. A Reformed Judaism 
must, they think, be a mere transition to some form of 
" Unitarianism " or "Theism." It is probable that this 
view is partly operative, in a more or less inarticulate sort 
of way, in the minds of many liberal Jews. Its grounds, 
as they present themselves to such persons, are, I believe, 
the following : 

(1) The conception of Judaism, which our Prayer-books 
and public worship imply, is that of a perfect law given to 
Moses and recorded by him in a book known as the 
Pentateuch. All cultivated persons, and very many un- 
cultivated ones as well, know that each term of this 
proposition is inaccurate. The law is not perfect ; it was 
not given to Moses ; it was not recorded by him in a book. 
The present writer fully admits the gravity of this con- 
trariety between theory and fact. A sort of critical shiver 
runs through him when at each Synagogue service the 
sacred scroll is elevated, and the solemn words are pro- 
claimed : " This is the Law which Moses set before the 
children of Israel." But can Judaism free itself from 
this difficulty and remain Judaism still? 

(a) Connected with this Pentateuchal problem, and 

vol. xi r. T t 



628 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

including it, are the larger questions concerning Eevelation, 
Inspiration and Miracles, which affect both Jew and 
Christian, though in different ways and proportions. 

(3) Another difficulty is connected with considerations 
which have been touched upon before. We have seen that 
the environment of many English Jews is entirely non- 
Jewish. Even if such persons do not read directly religious 
literature, they often read semi-religious books such as In 
Memoriam and Sesame and Lilies. Such books are more or 
less Christian in character. It is their common assumption 
that the most noble life which has ever been lived is the 
life of Jesus Christ, and that the highest and purest religious 
teaching, hitherto achieved, was given by him. The New 
Testament itself is no longer a closed book to many Jews. 
They are aware that, whether officially or unofficially, a large 
number of Christians no longer believe in the divine birth 
and miraculous resurrection of Jesus, and nevertheless regard 
him as their religious master. The book of his life and 
teaching is very attractive. Yet Judaism does not as yet 
seem able to take up towards the New Testament and its 
hero an adequately comprehending attitude. It is still 
(in the eyes of many liberal and nominal Jews) too disposed 
to ignore or deny the new contributions to religion which 
the writers of the New Testament have made. 

(4) But can Judaism be " reformed " ? It is idle to deny 
that there are many persons who, without belief in the 
truth of orthodox Judaism, have also little belief in reform. 
The common objection is that Judaism cannot adapt itself 
to critical conclusions or to the modern spirit without divest- 
ing itself of its racial or national integuments, and that it 
cannot divest itself of these integuments without ceasing 
to be Judaism. Here then we have the familiar difficulty 
of Scylla and Charybdis. A national religion is disliked. 
In the liturgy the perpetual emphasis of " Israel " grates 
upon the ear. For that perpetually recurring term some 
would desire to substitute " humanity." Yet, on the other 
hand, it is believed that to denationalize is to destroy. In 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 629 

Judaism it is supposed that religion and race must go hand 
in hand. There are even those who say : " While as a 
religion Judaism does not appeal to us, it has old and 
tender associations as a picturesque collection of family 
customs and national traditions. Your cold and colourless 
reform Judaism is neither the one thing nor the other." 

(5) Preachers are wont to speak of the religious mission 
of Judaism. But there is an uncomfortable feeling that 
it has not been sufficiently indicated what that mission 
exactly is. Judaism, it is said, " produced " Christianity ; 
but what religious work have the Jews accomplished since, 
or what religious work is there still left for them to do ? 
The usual answer is that their mission is to spread or 
to maintain the pure Monotheistic idea. This reply, how- 
ever, even if adequate, does not provoke adequate enthu- 
siasm. It is argued or it is felt that Monotheism will come 
of itself. Already a large number of " nominal " Christians 
have private doubts about the Divinity of Christ. No one 
can say tnat these doubts have arisen because of Judaism 
or by the influence of Judaism. Further doubts, then, will 
come in the same way. Again, if the only object of Judaism 
is the maintenance of the Monotheistic idea, why may not 
Jews, if they please, join Unitarian or Theistic communities? 
The fundamental doctrine of the Divine Unity is equally 
maintained by them. " Theism " avoids those harassing 
difficulties of criticism and race which perplex and trouble 
the modern and philosophic Jew. Again, the very liberality 
of modern Judaism stands a little in its way. It is 
regularly preached that by far the most important thing is 
conduct, that members of the most various denominations 
can all lead pure and noble and self-sacrificing lives. The 
doctrine is wholesome and true, but it is inevitable that, 
under the influence of it, many persons should ask whether 
the speculative error of even orthodox Christians (who, 
after all, are not idolaters) is of so very much consequence. 
To add to the difficulty, modern Judaism almost boasts of 
being a non-proselytizing religion. Is it to be wondered 

T t 2 



630 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

at that there are persons who ask whether it can be so 
necessary to maintain a religion which it is so unnecessary 
to communicate to others ? The duty of mere existence is 
unattractive ; it does not stimulate active devotion. It does 
not adequately appeal to the minds and imaginations of 
men. 

(6) It must be fully conceded by all, whether we like 
it or no, that religious sentiment or emotion among the 
Jews of England was, in the past, largely maintained by 
feelings of race. Now among the more cultured Jews of 
England, race feelings are largely passing away. And 
this for three reasons. First, English Jews have become 
Englishmen, fully identified with their fellow citizens 
of other creeds in national feeling, habits and thoughts. 
Secondly, there is no anti-Semitism in England, and 
therefore English Jews are not driven back into their 
own community for all social intercourse and public 
work. Men and women, whether of Teutonic or Semitic 
blood, mix freely with each other. Thirdly, the modern 
idea is extending that religion should not be limited 
by race. That Judaism should be a purely national 
religion is an irritating limitation. But a new sentiment 
to supplant the old is not yet full blown. Thus the 
three elements, which some would say supply the driving 
force in most religions, are all being weakened. The old 
belief in the Perfect Law is evaporating ; the rites which 
that Law ordered or suggested are no longer being observed ; 
and lastly, the old religious sentiment, which depended on 
or was mixed up with racial or national considerations, is 
also cooling down and dwindling away. Hence the Jew 
grows increasingly aloof from Judaism, and Judaism seems 
to him more and more distant and unappealing. 

Nor can it fairly be urged that these reasons are 
exaggerated or imaginary. Some of them doubtless are 
felt more by one person, and some by another. By one 
they are regularly formulated; in anotheu they may be 
only sub-conscious. But they are, I think, sufficiently 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 63 1 

real, numerous and grave, to make it certain that the feet 
of there being so many " nominal " Jews in England is 
not merely because of indifferentism, ignorance, or sloth. 
No doubt all these are contributing causes ; but, taken 
alone and by themselves, they do not sufficiently explain 
the facts. 

The object of all that has hitherto been said is to make the 
situation clear. The purpose of what follows is to set forth 
some reasons why liberal Jews should not be discouraged 
and become alienated, and why nominal Jews should re- 
main nominal no longer. The one urgent requirement is that 
the Jewish religious consciousness should be actively and 
vividly maintained. The liberals and nominals must feel 
themselves Jews by religion, and not merely Jews by race ; 
they must teach this consciousness to their children and 
hand it down from generation to generation. Out of and 
through this consciousness, as its deliberate expression 
and issue, they must seek to live the religious life. It is a 
secondary, though by no means an unimportant matter how 
this Jewish religious consciousness is to express itself in 
outward form and embodiment. It may do so by separate 
services and Synagogues, answering to its own inward and 
liberal beliefs ; it may do so by clinging, in spite of much 
that is repellent and distasteful, to existing institutions, and 
attempting to liberalize from within ; it may retreat within 
the home, and, for a time, give up any public worship or 
collective organization : but, whichever method or methods 
it may adopt, its great and predominating object must be 
the maintenance in all fervour and purity of the distinct 
and definite religious consciousness within every Jewish 
soul. 

Why, then, should Jews remain Jews? The question 
implies that there is something worth staying for. And 
I must be prepared to answer the doubt of the nominal 
Jew, who may ask (either sadly or indifferently): "Is 
Judaism reformable ? " or again : " Are we to maintain our 
keen Jewish consciousness, and perchance also our active 



632 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

membership of the Synagogue, for our own sakes, or for 
the sake of other Jews, or for the sake of the outer world ? " 

There is little doubt that the last alternative contains 
the real kernel of the problem. If for the sake of the 
world, that is for the sake of religion, we ought all to 
retain our Jewish consciousness, then the greater clearly 
includes the less. But if Judaism, so far as the world goes, 
is doomed and useless, then it might be argued that the 
sooner we all abandon it the better. Let us, through " mixed 
marriages," hasten our own dissolution, and no longer 
attempt to buttress up an anachronism. Instead of remain- 
ing a Jew myself, would not the better or wiser thing be 
for me to join a Unitarian or Theistic body without delay, 
and to urge my friends to do the same ? Above all, why 
perchance am I to be false to that which, in our individual 
and personal lives, is the highest and holiest thing we 
know, unless I can honestly believe that my renouncement 
of love's satisfaction is a sacrifice for religion? There 
is no good (and some evil), it may be said, in the con- 
tinued existence of the Jews, unless that existence is 
continued for a conscious religious purpose, and for that 
purpose alone. 

But if Judaism, as a separate religious body, need not 
continue to exist, it is not now, and never again will 
be, of any use to the cause of Theism. That seems to 
me a tremendous assumption ; and yet the man or woman 
who withdraws from the community, or contracts a purely 
mixed marriage, does logically (so far as I can make out) 
approve of and endorse it. 

What does Judaism stand for? First of all for a pure, 
but a very uncompromising Theism. Judaism (rightly or 
wrongly — for this of course cannot here be discussed) — 
Judaism admits of no paltering or faltering with the 
Divine idea. It does not allow it to be whittled away. 
Orthodox and reform Judaism alike preach a real God, 
self-conscious or more than self-conscious, personal or more 
than personal, " in " the world if you please, but also above 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 633 

it, beyond it — a God who is the living source of knowledge 
and of goodness, a God to whom prayer is no mockery, 
a God who in a real sense is the " ruler " of the world and 
of man. No less than this is included in the Jewish 
doctrine of God. No less than this must be believed by 
those who would prefer to think of God as a Power or 
a Force rather than as a Person ; and who yet may wish, if 
it be possible, to regard themselves religiously as Jews. 
"To the old belief in him" they must return, "but with 
corrections. He is a person, but not like ourselves ; a 
mind, but not a human mind ; a cause, but not a material 
cause ; nor yet a maker or artificer. The words which 
we use are imperfect expressions of his true nature, but 
we do not therefore lose faith in what is best and highest 
in ourselves and in the world." To every kind of Pantheism, 
as to all Positivisms and " Ethical " religions without God, 
Judaism offers a stern and uncompromising opposition. 
I am not here arguing whether Judaism is right or wrong. 
All I want to make clear is what Judaism stands for, what 
it lives and what it dies for. 

Again, Judaism proclaims a religion in the closest possible 
association with morality and truth 1 . Jewish Theism need 
never be reactionary. It can be the ally of knowledge, 
pure, free from superstition, bracing, moral. But Judaism 
has two mighty foes. On the one hand, all reactionary 
religious forces, such as on the whole and in its pre- 
dominating elements and organizations the Roman Catholic 
Church seems to us to be, on the other all non-Theistic 
forces, including Positivism, Agnosticism, and Materialism. 

Let me not be misunderstood. I am not judging or even 
criticizing these systems : by calling them foes I do not 
mean to call them names. If they are our foes, we are 
theirs ; the fight between us can be conducted on the most 

1 I do not for a moment mean to imply that other religions are not 
also associated with morality and truth. All I mean is that Judaism seems 
to me, in its vital essence, to be peculiarly capable of the closest association 
with them. 



634 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

fair and honourable lines, and can easily consort with the 
closest possible friendship between individuals in the various 
opposing camps. 

A staunch liberal and a staunch conservative would say 
the same sort of thing about conservatism and liberalism 
respectively : but they would nevertheless not scruple to 
avow that the principles for which they fought were of the 
utmost value and importance. 

Perhaps then some "nominal" Jews may not have realized 
sufficiently the tremendous significance of the conceptions, 
the principles, the doctrines — call them by whatever name 
you will — which Judaism "stands for" and maintains. 
It will be observed that I have not specifically named the 
dogma of the Divine Unity. That is not because I do not 
appreciate its importance, but because it has, I think, been 
looked at in too narrow a way. It has been treated as 
a sort of barren abstraction, a narrow shibboleth without 
vital implications. But the question is not merely whether 
you believe in one God or in many gods, in a God of one 
aspect, or of three aspects, or of a million aspects (and for 
my part I can easily imagine that the one God has any 
number of aspects) ; but what sort of god your one God 
is, and what is his relation to man and to morality. It 
will be seen, at any rate, that Judaism stands and fights 
for conceptions of solemn importance, for which, if we 
believe in them, it is immensely worth our while to make 
important sacrifices of leisure, inclination, and convenience. 
"Leisure, inclination, and convenience": these words in 
this connexion seem trivial and unworthy. These things, 
it may be said, we are willing to give ; but we are not yet 
satisfied that they will be wisely given. Admitting that 
Judaism, in spite of many unsatisfactory accessories, and 
in spite of many rites and doctrines wherein we no longer 
believe, does yet " stand for " those great and solemn verities, 
you have not shown us that Judaism is the best method by 
which to propagate or to maintain them. Would it not 
be better for us to join a freer rebgious community, one in 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 635 

which there is less to be thrown off and rejected, which 
is more modern, more western, more liberal ? Do not, for 
instance, religious teachers like Mr. Wicksteed or Mr. Voysey 
accept and propagate principles much the same as those 
which, as you allege, are the hall-mark of Judaism ? Do 
they also not stand between Catholicism on the one hand, 
and Positivism or Agnosticism on the other? 

If I have not been guilty of any serious omissions or 
flaws in the argument, it is of great value to have reached 
the present limiting alternative. One point can now be 
usefully made. The religious isolation of the individual 
cannot be the best possible service to the religious cause 
in which he believes. It may be a temporary necessity, 
but the best condition, both for him and for the cause, will 
be one in which his own religious life both strengthens 
and is strengthened by the community. Liberal Jews 
must not think that they best serve the cause of Theism by 
an abstention from the community in its corporate religious 
life. It may be that they feel at present unable to join 
in that life ; it may be that circumstances are unfavourable 
to the creation of a distinct corporate religious life of their 
own; or it may be that the chosen apostle or teacher 
to create this life has not yet arisen ; but in any case, the 
present condition of things must not be looked upon as 
either normal or satisfying. The individuals of rare 
religiousness and spirituality who now live aloof and 
apart are certainly not wasted. Their fair and holy 
lives, their lofty and noble personalities, influence those 
who can understand and appreciate them. "The effect 
of their being upon those around them" is "incal- 
culably diffusive." Nevertheless they might do all 
this, and yet do more. The cause of religion, the cause 
of Jewish Theism, the power and purity of the com- 
munity as a religious force, would be strengthened and 
increased, if these rare natures were an integral part 
of the religious organization to which they now only 
nominally belong. Their influence would be doubled ; it 



636 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

would be not merely individual, but also collective. Then 
the power and beauty of such natures would as it were 
be reflected back upon the community. In helping to 
transform and develop it, they would also be its outcome 
and expression. 

For the majority of mortals, aloofness is not merely bad 
for the community, but also harmful for themselves. For 
them religious isolation is religious detriment. There is a 
parallelism, in this respect, between religion and morality. 
In his excellent little book, called " The Making of 
Character," Prof. MacCunn discusses with approval the 
prevailing Greek doctrine, that " character will never come 
to its best until the day that sees society reorganized as, 
at once, a school and sphere of virtue." In his chapter 
on " The Religious Organization," he points out how " Church 
membership can do much to quicken individual responsi- 
bility." He naturally alludes to the famous passage in the 
Republic, which has its bearing for religion as well as for 
ethics, about the philosopher whose " lot has fallen amidst 
adverse and evil social surroundings, and to whom it seems 
a hopeless struggle to make the society of which he is a 
member better." He, indeed, " holds his peace and goes 
his own way, content if only he can live his own life and 
be pure from evil and unrighteousness.'' And what he 
does is well. But it is not the best ; for if he had found 
the right society, the fitting state, " he would himself have 
reached a higher stage of growth, and have secured his 
country's welfare, as well as his own." Plato's solemn 
words apply to religion as well as to morality. 

The best and ideal thing would then be that the liberal 
and nominal Jew, for his own sake as well as for the sake 
of Theism, should take an active part in the corporate life 
of some religious organization. By so doing he would both 
give and gain. The religious life, as we have seen, is not 
wholly dissimilar in this respect to the citizen life. Here 
too there is a giving and a gaining in one and the same 
life. But it may still be asked : What religious organization 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 637 

should the "nominal" Jew join? Should it be Judaism or 
another ? 

It must be understood that I am here discussing the 
subject only and solely from one particular point of view. 
To abandon the religious brotherhood of Israel now, when 
the large majority of that brotherhood are in such evil 
plight ; when there is so much to be done ; when all should 
stand by and give, if they can, a hand ; when it is of the 
utmost importance that every good man and woman should 
emphatically acknowledge their membership in the com- 
munity, and help by their mere acknowledgment and 
strenuous life to maintain its honour and its name ; — to 
abandon the community now would seem the act of one 
without imagination, sympathy, or compassion. All I ask 
here is, whether for the sake of Theism the nominal and 
liberal English Jews would do better to join some other 
religious organization rather than to remain members of 
the Synagogue 1 ? 

And just a word in explanation of the phrase : " for the 
sake of Theism." Am I making the mission of Judaism 
to consist in a matter of theology rather than of religion ? 
Not so. But the service and the knowledge of God are 
reciprocally conditioned by one another. To know God as 
he is, is beyond man's ken and power. There is, moreover, 
a deep meaning in the teaching that the service of God 
produces a knowledge of him. God is, as it were, revealed 
to man more and more clearly by a certain attitude of mind 
and will, a certain trend of action. But the will and the 
life which make man more sure of God, and reveal to him 
more of the Divine character and nature, are themselves 
not without their theoretic basis. It is a working theory 
about God which shaped and directed the will and the life, 
and as this theory varies, so also must they. If a man's 
conception of God be, for example, that of the one self- 
conscious, eternal ideal of goodness and truth, his service of 
God will be coloured by his working theory. He will test 
all stories and books and dogmas about God by his own 



638 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

highest conceptions of righteousness and truth. He will 
regard no service displeasing to God which is also dedi- 
cated to truth or to righteousness, no service commendable 
to God which impairs the supremacy of either the one or 
the other. The nature and existence of God are not merely 
the subject-matter of theology: they are the essence of 
religion. For religion without God is a misuse of words. 
The religious life implies an attitude towards an ideal 
outside man ; it involves the belief that this ideal is the 
source of goodness and of truth, or in other words, that if 
there were no God, there would be no truth and no 
goodness. Without some theistic metaphysic, goodness 
and truth cannot, as I believe, maintain themselves. Is 
it not clear that if there be no God, goodness is a mere 
earthly episode, a mere transitory chance ? Here on this 
earth man has grown out of the animal; he exists for 
a time ; after a time he will pass away ; he has learned 
to talk about love and righteousness and truth, but there is 
nothing beyond the earth which corresponds with these 
words or has created these conceptions. They chanced to 
appear; they will chance to disappear — chance creations 
as they are of varying sensations of pleasure and pain. 
And may we not go a step further and argue that goodness 
depends not only on the existence of God, but also on the 
belief in him? If, indeed, goodness and truth owe their 
being to God, it is impossible to suppose that God will 
suffer the belief in him to die out among men. But if, for 
the sake of argument, we assume that the belief did die 
out, then, as it seems to me, goodness itself would also 
gradually dwindle away. People would come to perceive 
that goodness in the old sense of the term had no super- 
human or extra-human sanction or source, and with that 
perception, the texture and quality of their goodness 
would gradually grow weaker and poorer. Woe then 
to the permanent stability of human goodness if man 
loses the belief in God! And for these reasons the 
cause of Theism includes, as it seems to me, the cause 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 639 

of morality as well. Moreover, every phase of Theism 
involves a particular kind of belief about God, and 
this belief may determine and colour our actions. If we 
believe that God not merely hates sin but also the sinner, 
that in his universe there is such a thing as everlasting 
punishment, that he has favouritisms of race and creed, 
these beliefs can hardly help influencing our character and 
our deeds ; or if we believe that God is near to man, that in 
some strange way he helps our struggles towards goodness 
and truth, that the relation of father and child is a true 
analogy of God's relation to ourselves, that God is one in 
such sort that in him justice is the same as love, and 
righteousness the same as mercy — will this belief not 
influence our service ? It is true that service deepens the 
knowledge, but it is also true that knowledge (or, in other 
words, a working theory about God) directs the service. 
" For the sake of Theism " therefore includes " for the sake 
of religion." There is or should be sufficient unity in man 
to make his knowledge (or, if you will, his theories) 
ennoble his action, and his action deepen his knowledge. 
So too in theology and religion. In the last resort each 
religion must surely maintain : the truer the theology (i. e. the 
better and purer the working theory about God) the better 
the religion. Each religion has its saints and heroes ; 
it is a hard saying that the religious life which one 
religion dictates and impels is superior to the religious 
life of another. But the votaries of each religion have 
to maintain (and they do so logically) that the religious 
life inculcated by their own particular creed is on the 
whole the fullest and the best. No less than this must 
be the claim of Judaism. 

It is not denied or deniable that the outside Theisms 
have certain advantages for "liberals." They are freer, 
more western, more connected and in touch with the main 
stream of thought and culture ; they make fewer demands 
upon patience and credulity. To some, Unitarianism may 
still be too Christian ; to others, " Theism " may seem too 



640 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

cold : but, speaking generally, the advantages which I have 
mentioned belong to them both. For individuals, therefore, 
to whom the romance of Judaism and the tribal or historic 
links which appeal so keenly to many minds no longer 
afford attraction, to whom, also, the urgent obligation to 
remain within the community at the present time of stress 
and storm is unrealized or unknown, the temptation to 
desert Judaism and to join Unitarianism or Theism may be 
very strong. From the purely individual point of view it 
becomes a matter of personal inclination and taste, of 
which there is no arguing. We have, however, to consider 
it in its relation to the community as a whole, and to the 
outer world. 

Now this is a practical question which is before us, and 
we must regard it as practical men. It is clear that we 
have not to deal with large numbers ; we have to deal 
with driblets and individuals. There is no question of 
the Jews as a body, or even of a collected mass of them, 
giving up their separate religious organization and joining 
another. It is only a question of a few here and a few 
there. The other religious bodies then will not appre- 
ciably be strengthened. But on the other hand Judaism 
will appreciably lose. And the loss of Judaism would be 
the loss of Theism as well. For the Theism in which 
liberal Jews believe would best be served if all the eight 
or ten million Jews in the world were keen Theists in the 
liberal sense. They are Theists even now. Is their 
liberalism likely to come the sooner, if liberal Jews 
abandon the community? It is a very serious and evil 
thing for a religious organization, if its liberal elements 
become alienated or indifferent. A reforming and trans- 
forming force is thereby removed. The steady pressure of 
a keen and increasing band of liberals must inevitably 
produce important results, supposing that pressure is main- 
tained for an adequate and continuous time. If all the 
disaffected and nominal Jews were active members of the 
Synagogue, could they not make a considerable difference, 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 64 1 

both in its services and ceremonial, and in the very con- 
ception and presentation of its teaching and doctrine ? If 
the liberal forces are withdrawn, can liberals complain 
of conservatism and sterility ? This argument will not be 
unfamiliar to many persons. It is the argument of the Broad 
Church party who desire to reform from within instead of 
destroying from without. 

Again, without presuming to criticize either Mr. Voysey's 
community or the Unitarian Churches, it is reasonable to 
realize that they too have various difficulties and weak- 
nesses of their own. The one is at present a small and 
solitary body, of recent origin, with no great historic past, 
and with small guarantees for its continuance and expansion. 
The other, from my Jewish point of view, is perhaps hardly 
separated with adequate sharpness and decision from 
orthodox Christianity ; moreover, the children of Unitarians 
often marry into the Established Church, and their offspring 
is lost to Unitarianism. And liberal Jews, though they can 
approve and appropriate the nobler teachings of the New 
Testament, are not prepared to call themselves Christians. 
They are not prepared to call any man master ; and none 
the more one of whose life and teaching, great and illus- 
trious though they be, the records are so uncertain and 
contradictory, and bear such clear evidence of exaggeration 
and inventive arrangement. They still require no mediator 
between the human child and the Divine Father. Still 
would they turn the words of Paul against himself, and say : 
6 i/.e<rtTT)s eros ovk. e<rriv, 6 he debs els eariv. 

Under these circumstances, the liberal or nominal Jew, 
while doing obvious harm to his own community, will 
confer no benefit upon the cause of Theism by joining 
another religious organization. Theism will best be served 
by two separate contingents, one Christian and one Jewish, 
each liberal and progressive, each in sympathy with one 
another, but each distinct and with its own peculiar 
differences and modifications. The cause of pure religion 
will best be served by Jews cleaving to Judaism and liberal- 



642 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

izing it. Doing most good to our own brotherhood, we 
shall also do most good to the world. The second is 
involved in the first. 

If this position be justifiable, our separatism is also 
justified. The Jews can only preserve themselves by 
refusing intermarriage. Otherwise the tiny minority would 
gradually be swallowed up by the majority. The true 
religious reason for Jewish separatism is so often misunder- 
stood that it seems worth while and even necessary to 
dwell upon the subject in some detail. 

It would be acknowledged on all hands that there may 
be more grounds or motives than one for the same action, 
and that two men may concur in the propriety of a given 
deed, although they differ as to its justification. This 
elementary fact may be applied to the question of Jewish 
separatism. It can be observed and justified from two 
different reasons. These two reasons may combine: a 
man may hold them both ; but they may also be very 
sharply dissociated from each other. There is, then, first, 
the reason of race, and secondly, there is the reason of 
religion. 

There are persons who, I believe, want to maintain the 
Jewish race quite apart from any religious consideration. 
There are some who would even go so far as to speak of 
the Jews as a " people " or a " nation," and would desire to 
keep up, as they call it, the national idea. Such persons 
would object to intermarriage on purely "racial" or 
" national " grounds. There are others who combine these 
grounds with motives of religion. There are others, again, 
who, while by no means assenting to the theory that 
the Jews are a nation, have yet a sort of sentimental, 
unreasoned, atavistic feeling of race, and dislike the notion 
of intermarriage. With all these I am in utter disagreement. 
If it were not so, I should indeed be guilty of a contra- 
diction when I desire the " denationalization " of Judaism, 
and support the counter-theory of an " Englishman of the 
Jewish persuasion." A man can only belong to one nation 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 643 

at a time. But, heart and soul an Englishman hy nation, 
one can also be heart and soul a Jew by religion. But by 
religion only. The mere race is unimportant ; it has no 
influence upon action. An Englishman may be proud of 
his Huguenot descent, but that makes no difference to his 
feelings and actions. A " French " Canadian is a Briton. 
I may be proud of my Jewish race (though what Jew 
knows whether his race is pure ?), but it makes no difference 
to my action. In all tastes, feelings, and ideas — apart from 
religion — I have far more in common with a Christian 
Englishman than with a Bulgarian Jew. If it were not 
for religion, there would not, from my point of view, be 
the smallest objection to intermarriage. On the contrary, 
there would be very much indeed in its favour. 

But quite different from all race reasons is the reason of 
religion. There is nothing racial or national about the 
Koman Catholic objection to intermarriage. It is purely 
a question of religion. The Roman Catholic authorities 
object to the diminution of their numbers which unre- 
stricted intermarriage might bring about. In England, at 
any rate, where they are in a minority, they now make 
a condition that such marriages can only be allowed if the 
children are brought up as Catholics. Surely, if Roman 
Catholics, whose church is so powerful and so numerous, 
have their apprehensions, it is not unreasonable that Jews, 
who are everywhere in a minute minority, should have 
them as well. If the Synagogue were not officially so tied 
down to the letter of a hard and fast law, and so unable to 
meet new contingencies as they arise, it might perhaps be 
desirable to sanction mixed marriages on the same terms as 
they are sanctioned by Boman Catholics. But there would 
be two very obvious dangers in doing so. First, there could 
be no effective guarantees and securities that the engage- 
ments would be satisfactorily carried out, and secondly 
the children, even if brought up as Jews, would be them- 
selves extremely likely to contract intermarriages without 
any safeguarding conditions. The tendency to revert to the 

VOL. XII. u u 



644 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

dominating religion of the overwhelming majority must 
necessarily be of enormous strength. 

It may indeed be said: Why should a Jew not marry 
a Unitarian or a Theist? The answer is : Because of the 
children. If the Unitarian or Theist is willing to join our 
ranks, then the children are likely to be brought up as 
Jews and to marry Jews. If the marriage is " mixed," 
they may marry anybody, and are as likely as not to be 
merged in the general mass. The Jews must have and must 
cultivate a sense of a religious mission not yet completed. 
We should welcome others to our camp ; we dare not 
ourselves abandon it. In the present religious condition 
of the world our responsibility to the Theistic cause is 
enormous. Every Jew who, with the utmost humility, 
feels that he has at all events some religious aspirations, 
some desire for the religious life, some living belief in God, 
should regard himself as a consecrated servant of Deity, 
and in spite of all difficulties remain faithful to his charge. 
Till the religious desirability of our dissolution is clearly 
apparent, let us not ourselves break the only bond which 
can hold a small and scattered religious organization 
together. 

I am not indeed unconscious of the evils which the 
refusal of intermarriage entails. It can only be justified 
by the belief that the maintenance of Judaism as a 
separate religious organization is still of some religious 
benefit to the world ; in more familiar words, that the 
Mission of Israel is not yet fully accomplished. But when 
the non-Jew is a "Unitarian" or a "Theist," whether 
by birth and conviction, or by conviction alone, and is 
willing to adopt Judaism and to become a Jew, the marriage 
involves no loss, and such marriages need not be dis- 
couraged. The conditions of proselytism should be made 
easy and gracious \ This should be one of the future aims 
of liberal Judaism. 

1 It may be said that while I would welcome the "Theist" if he will 
adopt Judaism, I do not desire the Jew to adopt Theism. Is not this 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 645 

But it may still be asked : Are not the difficulties too 
great ? It is all very well to tell " liberals " and " nominals " 
to cleave to the community, to bide their time, to " reform 
from within " ; it is all very well to argue that their adhesion 
to Unitarianism or Theism will neither help their own 
fellow Jews nor the world at large ; but how if this 
Judaism, to which they are to cling in the hope and 
with the aim of reforming it "in the third or fourth 
generation," is incapable of being "reformed." Are you 
not recommending them to pursue a Will-o'-the-wisp? 
Are you not perhaps hugging a delusion and setting up 
a chimera as your goal ? 

The reply to these questions can only be tentative. The 
final reply will be the fact. The difficulties will be 
solved ambulando — by experience and trial — or they will 
not be solved at all. Mere talk and theorizing will not 
do it. But we must not be scared by bogies. Nor must 
we accept too readily the opinion of our " orthodox " 
brothers and friends that Judaism can only exist in their 
conception and expression of it. Within very wide limits, 
it is surely true that the faith and the outward repre- 
sentation of that faith, which a number of Jews feel and 
desire to be Judaism, is Judaism. The mere fact that to 
their Jewish consciousness it is Judaism differentiates it 
from any other Theistic faith, which, both in the positive 
and negative aspects of doctrine, may otherwise most closely 
resemble their own. It is one phase of a religion which 
has taken and can take many different forms. The 
religion of (let us say) Akiba or Hillel differed pretty 
much as widely from the religion of a cultivated English 
orthodox Jew of to-day as the latter 's religion differs (let 
us say) from mine. And if the first two are both phases of 
Judaism, I am not prepared to admit that the third is 
not a phase of it likewise. Judaism made a not wholly 
satisfactory alliance with Hellenism in the days of Philo. 

unjust and unequal ? The answer is that I am more convinced of the 
Theistic separateness and security of Judaism than of " Theism." 

U U 2 



646 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

It can make a better alliance to-day. It can see more 
clearly. 

People say that Judaism cannot be denationalized. Its 
race elements cannot be eliminated. They are its back- 
bone, its spinal column. This argument is common to both 
orthodox Jews and to most outside critics. The former use 
it to show that Reform Judaism is, or must end in, the 
destruction of Judaism ; the latter use it to show that 
Judaism as a modern religious force is and always must 
be a quantity ndgligeable. In the minds of many liberal 
and nominal Jews the suspicion lurks that the argument 
is sound. Hence their present dissatisfaction with the 
outward condition of Judaism seems to them founded upon 
a permanent necessity. Do what you will, it is alleged, 
the driving power of Judaism is contained in its fusion of 
religion and race. The poetry and passion, the emotional 
force and sympathetic bond of the religion all reside in and 
are dependent on the element of race. If that element 
has become distasteful, the very essence of the religion 
is distasteful, and if it is removed, the essence of the 
religion is removed likewise. "A national religion is an 
anachronism ! " do you say 1 Agreed, respond the outside 
critics; but that only shows that Judaism itself is an 
anachronism, and its " reform " an impossibility. 

Again, I would say : There can be no complete reply on 
paper. A certain exercise of faith is called for. But the 
phenomena of Reform Judaism in America show that de- 
nationalized Judaism is gradually becoming a reality. It 
is not contended that the process can be speedily accom- 
plished; it may be that here in England present circum- 
stances are not propitious for any even preliminary steps ; 
but the German proverb holds good in religion, as in other 
departments of life : Aufgeschoben ist nicht avfgehoben. 
Many silent changes are taking place all in the direction 
of universalism and reform. It is noticeable that any new 
and special services now arranged for have always a liberal 
proportion of English. Special prayers show a practical 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 647 

acknowledgment of the theory that Judaism is a "universal" 
religion : " an Englishman of the Jewish persuasion " is their 
underlying hypothesis. The same thing may be said of 
the majority of pulpit utterances. The festivals on which 
any stress is now laid are the five Pentateuchal festivals 
only. These are regarded far more from their human and 
spiritual than from their national or racial aspects. It is 
true that the theory of the perfect and Mosaic law is still 
nominally adhered to, it is also true that the Synagogue 
services are still arranged upon that theory's truth, but 
none the less is it being slowly but surely undermined. 
Hardly any Jewish preacher would openly venture to 
maintain it ; books which assume the accuracy of the main 
critical positions are coming more and more into use. 
Before long the divorce between belief and ritual will 
become too glaring to be overlooked or tolerated any 
longer. A great deal depends on the willingness of 
liberals to work, to endure and to hope for a future which 
they can never themselves see. The sentence from Cicero 
which George Eliot chose for the motto of her great Comtist 
hymn should be our motto too : Longum illud tempus quwm 
non ero magis me nrtovet quam hoc exiguum. 

I admit that the difficulties are many, and that the 
Pentateuchal question is grave. But many and grave 
difficulties are not necessarily insoluble. " Reformed " 
Judaism does not, as is often alleged, cut itself off from the 
past. Its cardinal proposition is that the religious utility 
of Judaism is not yet ended : in other words, the Mission 
of Israel did not close with the birth of Christ. He who 
believes in that doctrine is still a Jew, even though he also 
believes that the Pentateuch is neither perfect nor Mosaic. 
Even as things are now, the mass of Jewish Theists are not 
by any means without value. They are still witnesses for 
God. They are witnesses for that pure and ardent Theism 
which I have described as standing between two great 
opposing forces to-day. How much greater might that 
force become if all the " nominals " were close adherents, 



648 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

exercising, when opportunity offered, a steady pressure 
in the direction of liberalism and of reform. The Mission 
of Israel can still be a driving power for us all. The blood 
of the martyrs cries out to us still. Not the closest reasoning 
and the most critical analysis can prove that their faith 
and courage, their sufferings and tortures, were all for 
nothing. We may still believe that their blood was shed 
for a cause which was not dead then, and is not dead now. 
What then, in conclusion, is the duty of liberal and 
"nominal" Jews at the present time? First of all, the 
" nominals " must be " nominals " no more. Liberalism is 
required ; " nominalism " is impeding and detrimental. In 
what ways, then, should the liberals act ? The reply has, 
in part, been already anticipated and implied. There are 
four different methods in which they can help Judaism 
as a whole, liberal Judaism in particular, and the cause 
of Theism. 

(1) In the first place they can help to maintain their 
own Jewish consciousness, and the Jewish consciousness 
of their children, by an active participation in communal 
work and communal charity. This is subsidiary to any 
religious action in the more definite sense of the word, 
but it is none the less important. It helps to keep up 
the bond, to quicken the Jewish consciousness, in a season 
of difficulty and transition. Sacrifice of time and money 
for communal purposes cannot be impeded by theological 
differences and difficulties, and will serve to keep alive 
the sense of brotherhood. Here then is a definite duty — 
an opportunity within the reach of many, if not of all. 

(2) If the first method is one about which, given the 
fundamental dogma that Judaism is worth preserving, there 
can be little dispute or difference, not less so is the second. 
And with it we come to duties that are more definitely 
religious. The Jewish religious consciousness must be 
maintained within the home. This is a matter of consider- 
able difficulty, and it must involve a large measure of 
deliberate action and earnest thought. There may be, 



LIBERAL JUDAISM IN ENGLAND 649 

indeed there are, many liberals who neither go to the 
ordinary synagogue services themselves nor allow or desire 
their children to attend them. All the greater is the 
obligation upon them to maintain the Jewish religious 
consciousness within the home. How this is to be done, 
and whether it does not require, especially for boys and 
girls, a certain number of forms and ceremonies, is for each 
liberal individually to consider and to determine. But that 
it should be done seems abundantly clear. If liberal Jews 
must stand aloof from the existing synagogue services and 
government, and are also as yet unable to form separate 
synagogues of their own, so much the more urgent is it 
that each liberal home should be a small centre of religion 
and of Judaism. If children are not to become keen 
Jewish Theists by the help of the synagogue, they must 
become so through the home. Upon every Jewish parent 
then who believes that, for the sake of religion, Judaism is 
worth preserving, and should be preserved, the obligation 
is distinct and heavy. From generation to generation 
the Witness must be handed down, faithfully, earnestly, 
deliberately. 

(3) When the time may become propitious for any distinct 
liberal movement or for any separate religious organiza- 
tion, I will not here discuss. Some persons would say that 
it is not a question of the season, but of the man. If it 
be so, we can at all events, by faithful and quiet labour, 
prepare the way for his coming. 

(4) Lastly, some liberals may find it possible, and in accor- 
dance with their conscience, to maintain even within the 
existing synagogue organizations a closer connexion with the 
main body. They will, as I have already indicated, attempt 
to reform from within. Here again a good deal of self- 
sacrifice will be required of them ; a large measure of faith. 
The services which they will have to attend may for a 
long time continue (in the majority of cases) to be dull, 
unaesthetic, unedifying. The Law will still occupy a 
position from which their understanding and reason will 



650 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

revolt. They may still have to hear the prayers read or 
chanted in a dead language : the prayers themselves may 
remain unrevised. Orientalism and nationalism may still 
be all too evident. Nevertheless, they may cheer themselves 
with the belief that the increasing pressure of liberalism 
from within must gradually produce its effect. Even 
within the " orthodox " community itself, there have been 
organized children's services, which every liberal might well 
regard as a rare privilege and opportunity for his children 
to attend. 

Even for our cause in England we must not lose hope. 
Little by Httle the new ideas will permeate and percolate 
more and more. The need for harmony between belief 
and practice will become stronger ; slowly, but surely, 
outward form will become the true expression of inward 
faith. It may be that the mournful position of Jews upon 
the continent of Europe may make it undesirable to attempt 
any pronounced liberal movement or agitation for some 
time to come. But seed can be sown : ground can be pre- 
pared. The mere advance of knowledge will of itself be an 
effectual ally. Above all, if the children of many liberals 
and nominals could be more closely attached to the com- 
munity, and if a considerable mass of outlying spirituality 
and of religion (including, as we have seen, some of high 
worth and rare nobility) could be, as it were, infused and 
incorporated into its general life, the gain would be 
enormous. 

Hard it is to discern and understand the purposes of 
God. But, for my own part, I do not believe that the 
religious mission of the Jewish race terminated with the 
production of Christianity. And if it did not, then I venture 
to submit that the general line of religious action (in one 
or other of its forms), which I have urged upon the liberal 
Jews of England, is not merely a reasonable policy, but 
a solemn duty and a sacred obligation. 

C. G. MONTEFIORE.