transition into radical politics, and his retirement: 1914–37
World War I proved a major turning point. A Jewish refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions was created through the combination of fighting along the Eastern Front and a concerted project of ethnic cleansing initiated by the Russian government (Sanborn 2005 ). As Zalkind saw it, Anglo-Jewry responded with appalling apathy both to this tragedy and to conflicts involving Russian Jewish refugees in the UK. He interpreted these failures as signs of moral and spiritual degeneracy, framing his
Individual ministries varied, and could be a source of tension within the convent. Some were more overtly political: Sister Catherine worked with refugees. 57 Others were linked with those marginalised by disability: Sister Patricia took a post as charge nurse in a ‘centre for the handicapped’. Others were more wedded to Catholic teaching, such as Sister Eileen’s catechetical ministry to the deaf and hard of hearing. 58 The congregation these three sisters belonged to, the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, welcomed sisters being ‘inserted
‘consider the relation between the Jewish government and the [Arab] refugees’ to be:
Sinful, a betrayal of Judaism, a degrading stain on the prophetic vision of the return to Zion with justice, peace, fairness, and as a true example for other nations. We stand in bitter struggle with the evil spirit that prevails in the Zionist movement and, throughout this struggle, never lose sight of what brought this evil spirit to bear … We consider it a shameful disaster that Jacob abandoned the perfect and
initial migration of women’s
orders from the continent marks the beginning of a new phase in the history
of religious life in Britain.65 Yet this phase began inauspiciously; the refugee
religious communities did not expand into multiple communities. In fact,
they contracted. Two communities returned to the continent in the early nine-
Some changes to contemplative life are mentioned in Margaret J. Mason, ‘Nuns
of the Jerningham Letters: Elizabeth Jerningham (1727–1807) and Frances
Henrietta Jerningham (1745–1824), Augustinian Caronesses of Bruges
to Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe, he (like Zalkind) did not oppose Zionism per se. Rather, he emphasized the Jewish need for refuge, wherever it might be found, and also objected to the moral and cultural effects of mainstream Zionism on Jewish consciousness.
Steinberg emigrated to the United States in 1943. There, he continued his work with the Freeland League, lectured frequently on his personal history in radical politics, and served as chief editor of and contributor to Afn Shvel , a Yiddish-Language journal still in publication. However
: Lancashire’s First Female Religious House ’, Recusant History , 25 ( 2001 ), 461 – 86 ; Tonya J. Moutray , Refugee Nuns, the French Revolution, and British Literature and Culture ( London : Routledge , 2016 ).
102 A Benedictine from Stanbrook, ‘Freedom behind the Grille’, The Tablet (11 June 1966), p. 7.
103 Their story could be found in the Laity’s Directory (‘The Narrative of the Sufferings of the English Communities under the dominion of the French Republicans’ (1796), pp. 6–31) and also in In a Great Tradition .
104 A Benedictine, ‘Freedom