Kedushah in Anglo-Liberal Judaism: Lily Montagu’s Employment of the Holy in the Everyday

Luke Devine


Lily Montagu, with Claude Montefiore, helped found Liberal Judaism in England. However, despite recent scholarship restoring Montagu’s biography, there has been little analysis of the ways in which she applied Montefiore’s Liberal theology, in particular his vague conception of holiness. Indeed, while Montefiore’s definition of kedushah broke with biblical/rabbinic understandings of God’s separateness, he found defining a Liberal version of holiness difficult. This article analyses the ways in which Montagu expanded on Montefiore’s definition of kedushah to demonstrate God’s immanence in the everyday. To Montagu, revealing the holy in day-to-day routines was essential to her quest to bring the holy to spiritually disengaged Anglo-Jews. Moreover, under Montagu’s guidance, ensuring each religionist’s “realisation of God’s presence” became a vital component of the burgeoning Liberal Jewish movement.

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