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Lost in Translation, Found in Transliteration

Books, Censorship, and the Evolution of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation of London as a Linguistic Community, 1663–1810


Alex Kerner

In Lost in Translation, Found in Transliteration, Alex Kerner examines London’s Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ congregation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a community that delineated its identity not only along ethnic and religious lines, but also along the various languages spoken by its members. By zealously keeping Hebrew and Spanish for prayer and Portuguese for community administration, generations of wardens attempted to keep control over their community, alongside a tough censorial policy on book printing. Clinging to the Iberian languages worked as a bulwark against assimilation, adding language to religion as an additional identity component. As Spanish and Portuguese speaking generations were replaced with younger ones, English permeated daily and community life intensifying assimilationist trends.