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Readmission and Displacement

Readmission and Displacement

Menasseh ben Israel, William Prynne, John Milton

(p.211) Chapter 6 Readmission and Displacement
The Accommodated Jew
Kathy Lavezzo
Cornell University Press

This chapter considers the seventeenth-century debates over the readmission of Jews, when the English shifted from telling stories about Jewish houses to contemplating the accommodated Jew in earnest. During this period the link between Jews and materiality acquired new urgency in England, as the participants in Oliver Cromwell's Whitehall Conference pondered making a place, literally, for Jews on the island. This chapter examines both the appearance in England of a climate amenable to readmission and the resistance to such possibility, focusing on Amsterdam rabbi Menasseh ben Israel's campaign for readmission through both polemical writings and his own prominent residence on the Strand, as well as Protestant polemicist William Prynne's collection of evidence favoring keeping Jews out of England. The chapter concludes by analyzing John Milton's position on readmission which he expressed in his 1671 play Samson Agonistes, with particular emphasis on his use of architectural figures to address issues of tolerance, Christianity, and Judaism. Instead of the house, however, Milton's preferred metaphor is Solomon's Temple.

Keywords:   readmission of Jews, Jewish house, accommodated Jew, England, Whitehall Conference, Menasseh ben Israel, William Prynne, John Milton, Samson Agonistes, Solomon's Temple

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