Joseph Jacobs, Isidore Harris
Seaside resort on the Kentish coast of England. This small town owes its importance in modern Anglo-Jewish history to its connection with Sir Moses Montefiore, who in 1830 purchased the East Cliff estate there as his countryseat. A small community of Jews was already in existence, but the nearest synagogue and established congregation were those of Canterbury. One of the first uses to which Montefiore put his newly acquired estate was to build a synagogue, which he opened to all comers. The foundation-stone was laid in 1831, and the building was consecrated two years afterward. Two brothers, Isaac and Emanuel Myers, were appointed ministers. Sir Moses became president of the synagogue, and a regular attendant at its services when at Ramsgate; and it was his invariable custom to extend the hospitalities of East Cliff Lodge to all visitors from London whom he recognized at his place of worship. When his wife, Lady Judith, died (1862), she was buried in the synagogue grounds; and over her grave was erected a white-domed mausoleum, being a facsimile of the historic tomb of Rachel.
This mausoleum is not the only Jewish memorial of Lady Judith with which her husband endowed Ramsgate. Seven years after her death he founded the Judith Montefiore Theological College, “to promote the study and advancement of the holy Law and general Hebrew literature.” The first principal of this college was the eminent Orientalist L. Löwe, who had accompanied Sir Moses on many of his missions to the East; and learned men were invited from various parts of Europe to devote their declining days to the objects for which the institution was founded. At the same time a valuable library was accumulated. When Sir Moses died the institution passed into the trusteeship of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation in London, which reorganized it under the principalship of the haham, M. Gaster. A department was added for the training of Jewish students and of candidates for the ministry. This department and a portion of the Montefiore Library have since been transferred to Jews’ College.
The Judith Montefiore Theological College has now reverted to its original uses as a place of study for retired scholars. Two hours every morning and every afternoon are devoted to this object; and monthly lectures are delivered, on the first Sunday in the month, to which the public are admitted. The principal collegian is the Rev. J. Chotzner; and the librarian is the Rev. G. S. Belasco, who is also the minister of the synagogue.
The present Jewish population of Ramsgate is 130; but this is largely increased during the holiday season. In the summer of 1903 the Union of Jewish Literary Societies held its first summer assembly at Ramsgate. See Judith Montefiore College.1
1This article was originally published in The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume 10, in 1905.
Lucien Wolf, Biography of Sir Moses Montefiore, pp. 51 et seq.
Jewish Year Book, 1903.
Reports of the Judith Montefiore College, 1893 et seq.
J. Q. R. 1902 et seq.
Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew MSS. of the Montefiore Library.