Thesis first published on JCR-UK: 2003
The Jews of South-West England
Thesis by Rabbi Bernard Susser
1 Early Settlement
2 The Jewish Communities after 1656
3 Demographic structure
6 Communal organization
Many people have helped me in the course of my research in writing this book, and any merit in it is in large measure due to them. First and foremost, I gladly acknowledge my debt to Dr H. E. S. Fisher of the University of Exeter who taught me all I know of historical method and the art of marshalling evidence. Without his constant friendship, encouragement and advice over many years neither the original thesis nor this book would ever have been completed.
The late Dr Cecil Roth initiated me into Anglo-Jewish historical research and most generously encouraged me by allowing me access to his entire collection. The late Dr Vivian Lipman pointed me in the direction of the Decennial Census returns, and Mr A. Schischa taught me the Yiddish I needed to decipher the Plymouth Congregation's Yiddish records, as well as helping me with a number difficulties.
The late Sir Israel Brodie and Lord Jakobovits allowed me to use the archives of the Chief Rabbi's Office. The late Mr Wilfred Jessop, Chicago, generously loaned me his unpublished work, 'Coat of Many Colours'.
I am grateful to a host of correspondents whose help is acknowledged in the footnotes, but in particular to the late Mr L. Berlin, son of the Revd M. Berlin who was minister to the Plymouth Congregation 1896-1906, and Mr L. Norman, son of the secretary of the Plymouth Congregation in 1858(!), because they gave me much information as well as a large number of documents relating to the Congregation. Mr Percy Aloof searched the microfilms (an eye-straining job) and transcribed the 1871 and part of the 1881 Plymouth census returns for me until ill-health prevented him from continuing.
Nearly thirty years has elapsed since I began my research and many who gave me access to their offices and libraries and showed me how to use their treasures are now in the World of Truth. I thank them for the help they gave me; all my doubts, queries, suppositions and mistakes are known to them. I will be glad to hear from any reader who can throw any more light on any aspect of this book so that errors can be corrected.
My thanks are due to Channa and Jacob. When they were little they allowed me to do the necessary research, and when they grew up they read the many draft manuscripts, checked them and pointed out passages which I had not made clear.
Mr Simon Baker, of the University of Exeter Press, has seen this work through to publication. His meticulous attention to detail has saved it from many an error. I thank him and the Press for their help and cooperation.
The generosity of the family of the late Mr Arthur Goldberg has made the publication of this book possible: the reading public and I are greatly indebted to them.
According to the Jewish proverb, 'The last, Ah!, the last is the most precious'. In respect of my wife's contribution to this work I can only echo Rabbi Akiva's words to his disciples: My knowledge and what you learn from me is all due to her.
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