The Rich and the Poor: Jewish Philanthropy and Social Control in Nineteenth-century London

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This study shows how a centrally-planned philanthropy developed within the London Jewish community in the 19th century, culminating in the establishment and development of the Jewish Board of Guardians. The process involved crucial power relations within the Jewish community and the wider British society. Jewish philanthropy was adapted by the Jewish elite and modified accordingly to contemporary ideologies to become a base for social control of the poor. Key areas covered in this work include: health, employment, loans and housing - all in the context of the massive and burgeoning metropolis that was 19th-century London. A system of checks and balances developed whereby Jewish philanthropic institutions sought to discourage the immigration of the poor of Eastern Europe. By the time the mass immigration did occur the elite felt secure enough to seek the aid of an increasingly collectivist state. Although challenged by a vociferous immigrant working class, the elite successfully contained and limited class division within the Jewish community. This book includes archival material from the Jewish Board of Guardians, and uses the recorded words of the elite themselves to illustrate the thinking of an enterprising and ingenious social class defending its position in a critical period.