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Oxford Jewish Thought

Lectures, essays, questions & articles

by Rabbi Eli Brackman

ENGLAND'S FIRST COFFEE HOUSE IN 17th CENTURY & JEWISH TRADITION

IMG_6864 Folio 1650b.jpg 

 

The history of coffee houses in England is intimately connected to the return of the Jews to England 366 years after their expulsion in 1290. The first coffee house in England, and Europe, is recorded by Anthony Wood to have been opened in Oxford by a Jewish merchant from Turkey, most likely Smyrna, in 1650,[1] a few years before the formal readmission of the Jews to England in 1656. Called a Jewish beverage (mashke yisrael), due to its popularity amongst the Jews, or ‘black liquid’ (mei shichur),[2] it provoked major controversies in the Jewish community, as it did in society at large. In this essay, we will explore these controversies in detail.

 

The opponents of coffee included Muslims and Christians w… Read More »

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