Judith Montefiore (1784-1862)

In 1827, Judith and Moses Montefiore visited the Holy Land for the first time. In her travel journal, privately published in 1836 as a gift to her husband, Judith draws explicitly on Josephus in her reflections on Jerusalem. She refers to the Jewish War in relation to the physical features of Jerusalem, its viewing by Titus prior to his assault on the city, and then its tragic destruction. Despite her effusions of Jewish sentiment, the quotations and observations are those found in Christian travel writers of the period.

Josephus, however, makes no appearance in the Notes from a Private Journal that record the Montefiore’s second visit of 1838. Josephus is also conspicuously absent from the account of the same travels contained in the biographical compilation that Louis Loewe constructed out of the now largely destroyed diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore. Under Loewe’s tutelage, sightseeing was apparently focussed on traces of the rabbinic past in the Holy Land.

Judith, Lady Montefiore, Private Journal of a Visit to Egypt and Palestine (privately published, London, 1836).
Judith, Lady Montefiore, Notes from a Private Journal of a Visit to Egypt and Palestine, by Way of Italy and the Mediterranean (privately published, London, 1844, 2nd ed. 1885).
Sir Moses Montefiore, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore Comprising their Life and Work as Recorded in Their Diaries, ed. L. Loewe (London, 1890).

Israel Bartal, introduction to Private Journal of a Visit to Egypt and Palestine (Jerusalem, 1975).
Judith W. Page, ‘Jerusalem and Jewish Memory: Judith Montefiore’s “Private Journal”’, Victorian Literature and Culture 27.1 (1999): 125-41.

JRA entry contributed by Tessa Rajak