The lamp is thought to have been purchased by Philip Salomons (1796-1867) whose collection was acquired by Reuben D. Sassoon (1834-1905). He probably gave it to Benjamin Artom on the occasion of his marriage with Henrietta Hababa David (née Ezekiel) which occurred in 1875 at Reuben Sassoon’s private synagogue, 95 Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park.
The lamp is thought to have been purchased by Philip Salomons (1796-1867), whose collection was acquired by Reuben D. Sassoon. He probably gave it to Benjamin Artom on the occasion of his marriage with Henrietta Hababa David (née Ezekiel).
Samuel Edlin was the son of a salesman from Watford, Hertfordshire. He was apprenticed to Matthew Cuthbert before becoming free on 4 June 1701 and entering his mark in 1704, from Foster Lane (near Goldsmiths' Hall). Edlin is nowadays most noted for his activity with Jewish patrons, as a few surviving Judaica pieces show: as well as the Hanukkah lamp of 1712, two pairs of Torah Finials, 1711 and 1712, are recorded in the Bevis Marks Synagogue; finally, a pair of silver rimmonim, 1712, is in the Jewish Museum, London (see illustration). By 1712, Edlin had moved to the corner of St Mary Axe, Leadenhall Street, conveniently next to the Bevis Mark Synagogue. After that date, no further pieces are recorded but he continued on an eminent career: in 1712, he became liveryman of the Goldsmiths' Company3 and in 1739, he was chosen to be assay-master with a generous annual salary of £100.4 Following the path of his master Matthew Cuthbert and that of John Ruslen, Samuel Edlin was not only a goldsmith but also a banker,5 an activity which could explain his Jewish patronage.
The Sephardic community was the first settlement of Jews in England following the readmission in 1656 and had a considerable impact on English trade, its stock market and its banking systems. The Sephardi, as opposed to the Ashkenazi, came from Southern Europe, mainly Portugal and Spain, during the Inquisition. The majority settled in the Netherlands where they continued to build a strong international trading network, from Goa to Jamaica via Morocco. They contributed to the establishment of the Dutch West India Company (VOC) and of the Bank of Amsterdam.6
As England wished to develop its own trade routes and colonies, Oliver Cromwell had foreseen the importance of the participation of Jewish merchant princes and officially readmitted Jews to England in 1656. Shortly after this, Solomon (Antonio) Dormido (1622–1700) was the first Jew to be admitted formally to the Royal Exchange in London. By 1690, about 400 Jews had settled in England and by 1701, a ninth of the proprietors of the Bank of England (founded as a privately owned bank in 1694) who held £4,000 in stock and above7 were Jews.8 The first subscriber to the Bank, of Sephardi origin, was Ferdinando Mendes (? - 1724), a well-known member of the community. Mendes was the doctor of King Joao IV of Portugal and accompanied the king’s daughter Catherine of Braganza to London, when she married King Charles II.9
It was therefore only reasonable for this powerful congregation to be granted a permanent place of worship.10 The Bevis Mark synagogue was opened in 1701, thanks to many benefactors who are also recorded in the list of shareholders of the Bank of England such as Salomon de Medina, the great army contractor to King William III, and the merchants Isaac and Elias Lindo.11 It was on the occasion of Elias Lindo’s wedding in 1709 that the Hanukkah lamp, the earliest known English-made example now in the London Jewish Museum, was commissioned from the English silversmith and banker John Ruslen.
As time progressed, the Sephardic community included some of the most influential and wealthy Anglo-Jewish families such as the Montefiores, the Sassoons and the Salomons. The Sassoons are noted for their immense fortune divided between India, China and England, while the Salomons were wealthy London merchants from the second half of the 18th century. David Salomons (1797-1873) was the first Sheriff and first Jewish Lord Mayor of London and his brother, Philip Salomons (1796-1867) was a financier in the City of London and an important political figure12 who built what is considered to be the first British collection of antique Judaica.
Since its creation the Bevis Mark Synagogue has been at the heart of the spiritual and social Sephardi community, led by its Chief Rabbi, called Haham – literally wise man. In the 19th century however tensions, arose within the community between modernists and the orthodox, and externally with the Ashkenazi reaching a climax in the 1860s. In 1866, Rabbi Benjamin Artom (1875-1879) was called to become their Haham to try and make peace between the various warring parties.
Artom was born in Asti, Piedmont, Italy and was the first to hold the post of Rabbi in Naples before being appointed to Bevis Marks. He managed to maintain the status of the Sephardic community independent from the Ashkenazi, revive the community’s flagging fortunes, and at the same time remain on good terms with the Ashkenazi majority. He was also a very eloquent preacher and published his sermons in 1873 in English, a language that he did not know on his arrival but mastered in only a year.13 Also a talented musician, he introduced new melodies and new prayers into the liturgy of Bevis Marks.14 He extended the influence of the congregation beyond its own confines and gave his blessing for the erection of two new Sephardi synagogues: one for the community of Dutch Jews in the City of London and one in Manchester.
His marriage in 1875 to Henrietta Hababa David (circa 1840-1921) was an important social event and widely covered in the press. A young widow, Henrietta Hababa David was herself a member of the high society of Anglo-Jewish families. Born Ezekiel, her brother Marcus worked for E.D. Sassoon in Bombay and China,15 while her sister Catherine 'Kate' (1836-1919) married Reuben D. Sassoon (1834-1905).16 It was at the mansion and private synagogue of Henrietta’s brother-in-law Reuben Sassoon, at 95 Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park, that her second marriage was celebrated. The guests included ‘la crème de la Société’, notably members of the Sassoon family as well as Moses Montefiore. As a newspaper described the occasion, 'Those who know by experience the hospitality and kindness of Mr and Mrs Sassoon, can imagine the reception given by them to all the guests who admired at their leisure the luxurious and beautiful objects of art which ornament their mansion. [...] if wedding presents be a gauge of the affection borne to the recipients, then Dr. and Mrs Artom must be greatly beloved, for the display of presents offered a truly splendid coup d'oeil.'17
As was the 1709 Lindo lamp, Hanukkah Lamps can be offered as a wedding present for a new couple ready to create their own family. The exact translation of “Hanukkah” is “a dedication” as the engraved inscription on this Hanukkah lamp refers to: “A Psalm, Song at the dedication of the temple of David [Hanukkah]” (Psalm 30). Hanukkah lamps are used in the intimate family circle when they light a flame each night for eight days during the Festival of Lights.18 Possibly created as a wedding gift in 1711,19 it seems highly likely that the present Hanukkah Lamp was chosen by Reuben Sassoon as wedding gift for his sister-in-law and her new husband in 1875.
As newspapers reported, Reuben Sassoon was celebrated for his Judaica collection, which he had acquired for the majority at the death of the collector Philip Salomons (1796-1867)20 and where the Hanukkah possibly came from. According to Cecil Roth,21 Reuben Sassoon’s collection was largely responsible for the outstanding success of the first Anglo-Judaica exhibition held at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1887.22 The present Hanukkah Lamp was also shown at that exhibition, lent by Henrietta Artom herself.
The Reuben Sassoon collection was inherited by the great collector David Solomon23 (also known as Suleiman) Sassoon (1880-1942) who is thought to have been given the lamp by Henrietta as she had no children.
David Solomon Sassoon gave it for certain24 as a wedding present to his sister Rachel when she married Sir David Ezra (1871-1947), Sheriff of Calcutta and a director of the Reserve Bank of India. As she had no children, Lady Ezra gave the lamp to her niece Flora Sassoon25 who gave it in turn to her own daughter on the occasion of her wedding.
1 Arthur Grimwade, ‘Anglo-Jewish silver’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, vol, 18 (1953-1955), pp. 113-125. See also A.G. Grimwade et al, Treasures of a London Temple, London, 1951.
2 Acquired in 2010. Object: JM 230.
3 By 1720 he had moved to Wood Street and is recorded, by 1730, at Prujean Court, Old Bailey.
4 The London Evening Post, London 21-23 June 1739, p. 2a.
5 See Frederick George Hilton Price (1842-1909) A Handbook of London Bankers with some Account of their Predecessors the Early Goldsmiths, London, 1890–91. Matthew Cuthbert is listed in 1701, at the Cross Keys in Little Britain, John Ruslin between 1690-1709 at the Golden Cup, St Sweething's (Swithing) Lane, Lombard Street, and Samuel Edlin, in 1714 at the the corner of St Mary Axe, Leadenhall Street.
6 25 Jews among 731 proprietors were listed at the foundation of the Bank of Amsterdam.
7 A stake of £4,000 in stock or above was necessary to qualify for the governorship of the Bank of England.
8 J.A. Giuseppi, ‘Sephardi Jews and the Early Years of the Bank of England’, the Jewish Historical Society of England, Vol. 19 (1955-59), p. 53-63.
9 Mendes’s daughter was born at Somerset House and called Catherine, in homage to her godmother the Queen.
10 Services at a small synagogue in Creechurch Lane date to at least October 1663 when the diarist Samuel Pepys recorded his impressions of the service.
11 Isaac Lindo, a Sephardi Jew of Spanish and Portuguese orgin, who had fled the Inquisition in the Canary Isles and settled in London in 1670.
12 He served as Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff of Sussex and Deputy Lieutenant of the County.
13 He gave his first sermon in French in 1866.
14 In 1867 he composed the Bar Mitzvah boys’ prayer which is still recited in Spanish and Portuguese synagogues in Great Britain and the United States.
15 Marcus was an eminent collector of Chinese porcelain and may have introduced Sir Percival David to collecting Chinese art. He gave much of his collection to Hove Museum and was the father of David Ezekiel, a member of the Oriental Ceramic Society. See http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=141032
16 Ruben David Sassoon’s date of birth is traditionally given as 1935 but a recent discovery of a note in the family archives confirmed that he was born in December 1934. We are grateful to the family for giving us this information.
17 The Jewish Chronicles, 12 February 1875.
18 Hanukkah (Chanukah), or the festival of light, is probably the most well-known example of the symbol of light within Judaism. It celebrates the miracle of the light in a historical event that took place in 165 BC. Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid empire that stretched from Anatolia to the Indus valley, had decreed that Jews should not be able to practice Judaism. He forced them to worship the Greek gods and ordered his soldiers to desecrate the temple in Jerusalem. In 166 BC Judas Maccabeus, who was living in hiding in the hills, led a Jewish rebellion with a small army and overcame the forces of Antiochus. When the Jews came to the temple on 25 Kislev (November/December in the Hebrew calendar) 165 BC, they found that it had been desecrated and the temple light extinguished. After searching hard, they discovered a small, sealed container of oil (a cruise) and used it to re-light the temple menorah (the seven-branched candlestick). The oil was only enough for one day, but the miracle was that it lasted for eight days, giving the Jews enough time to obtain more.
19 Among the names of those who married is Benjamin, son of Menasseh Mendes, another wealthy merchant, shareholder of the Bank of England and benefactor of the Bevis Mark Synagogue. In 1712, Menasseh Mendes held upwards of £10,000 of stock. J.A. Giuseppi, op. cit., p. 60. He also had shares in the East India Company. The other couples married in 1711 were as follows: 171. Selomoh de David de Crasto and Rahel de Abraham Brauo. 7 Tishri 5471.
Jacob de Abraham Henriques Juliao and Hana de Isaque Refael Pereira. 12 Tishri 5471. Abraham de Meza and Sara Samuda. Vindos de Portugal. 26 Tishri 5471. Binjamin de Menasseh Mendez and Luna de Josef Mendes. 12 Heshvan 5471. Daniel Florez and Sara Suarez Pereira. Vindos de Portugal. 4 Kislev 5471. Dauid de Jacob de Robles and Ribca de Dauid de Robles. 15 Shebat 5471. Jose Nunes Martines and Sara de Moseh Nunes Cardoso. 8 Heshvan 5472.
Listed in Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation. “Abstracts of the Ketubot or marriage- contracts of the Congregation from earliest times until 1837”, with index, edited by Lionel D. Barnett. The Board of Elders of the Congregation, 1949. Bevis Marks Records part II.
20 Philip Salomons was Reuben Sassoon’s neighbour in Hove.
21 Cecil Roth, Jewish art: An illustrated history, 1961.
22 Joseph Jacobs and Lucien Wolf, Catalogue of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, Clowes, London, 1887, p.108.
23 David Sassoon's grandson, David Solomon Sassoon (1880–1942) (also known as David Suleiman Sassoon), was a renowned bibliophile who travelled extensively with the sole intent of collecting Hebrew books and manuscripts and which he later catalogued in a two-volume book, entitled, Ohel David.
24 Information from the Family.
25 Possibly when Flora married Oscar Asher Feuchtwanger.
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