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The Jewish community in Whitechapel was particularly compact.Of the 60-70,000 Jews in London, ninety percent lived in the East End. Whitechapel alone had a Jewish population of 30-40,000.
The comment that “the foreign Jews are filthy in their lives, and present a substantial similarity to the Mongolian type of character “did not seem out of the ordinary during periods of economic distress.
Contemporary social thinkers Charles Booth and Stephen Fox attempted to alter this impression by stating that Jews were hard working and law abiding, and, most importantly, were not immigrating in unprecedented numbers.
The Whitechapel murders provide a case study of sorts.
The reactions of the West End mirrored the debate over “Outcast London” and the fear of social revolution on the part of the poor of the East End.
The reactions of the East End reflected ingrained prejudices against foreigners, Jews, the police, and upper class society.
By examining the social conditions in East London, particularly Whitechapel where the killer operated most often, I hope to show why the East End was viewed with such concern and distrust even before the autumn of 1888.The question of who performed the brutal killings and sexual mutilations has baffled later writers as much as it did the London Metropolitan Police in 1888.Many authors have posited theories, but no one hypothesis has been proven conclusively.According to Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, reform on this front would not only be useful “in saving human life and health, but also in reducing the prevalence of crime.” An inadequate water supply made personal cleanliness impossible.The lack of mortuaries forced some poor families to keep the corpses of their loved ones in their own living room until the day of the funeral.Like their forbears, most Jewish refugees made good on the few opportunities presented to them. whether they become bootmakers, tailors, cabinet-makers, glaziers, or dealers, the Jewish inhabitants of the East End rise in the social scale.As Charles Booth noted They are set down on an already over-stocked and demoralized labour market. in the midst of the very refuse of our civilization, and yet . The Jews’ success created some animosity with the Irish community.Two districts of east London had even higher rates.Such living conditions were due in part to the large rent increases in the East over the previous quarter century.Many were forced to toil for fifteen to eighteen hours a day in the numerous tailoring, boot-making, and cabinet- making shops of the East End.Poverty was not the only problem leading to social unrest in London.