Today's popular image of Cornwall has largely been shaped by Rosamund Pilcher's novels, especially in Germany. Her view is built on romantic clichés including love, passion and an aristocratic way of life set in a rugged coastal landscape. However, the reality is very different. A closer look at England's extreme south-west reveals a complex region with an exciting history which in parts has been written by a small Jewish population. Academic research began to focus on this long-neglected historical chapter at the end of the last century. In 2000 came the exhibition The Jews of Devon and Cornwall curated by Evelyn Friedlander and Helen Fry. It was first shown in Penzance, followed by other venues in Devon and Cornwall. Ten years later I met with Evelyn Friedlander, now the director of London's Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum, in Truro. Together we visited the Jewish sites of Falmouth and Penzance and talked about the past, present and future of Cornish Jewry.
The Historian Selma Stern (1890–1981) and Her Portrait of the Court Jew
As the unification of contemporary Europe becomes a reality, new questions arise about a common cultural identity. In this context, research on a common European Jewish heritage has achieved wide public interest. Involving economic and political, cultural and religious, social and academic questions, the history of the Hoffaktoren, as they were called in German, was not constrained by European borders. It is the history of those entrepreneurs, bankers, politicians and diplomats, who served their princes throughout seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, which serves perfectly as a research field relating to European identity. Though centred on Germany, Austria and Holland, the history of the Court Jews had a decisive influence on many other countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Italy, England and Ireland
Marina Sassenberg, Alan Sillitoe, and Alan Wall
Ulrich Wyrwa (ed.), Judentum und Historismus. Zur Entstehung der jüdischen Geschichtswissenschaft in Europa, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt and New York, 2003, 256 pp., ISBN 3593372835
Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, 182 pp., £14.50. ISBN 0199252971
Jacob Neusner and Alan J. Avery-Peck, The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism, Routledge, New York and London, 2003, 192pp., £12.50, ISBN 0415302641
David Albahari, Götz and Meyer, The Harvill Press, London, 2003, 168 pp., £12.00. ISBN 1843430932