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Manasseh da Costa is a schnorrer (beggar) who lives on the charitable contributions of the Jews of late 18th-century London. But Manasseh is far from being a humble panhandler for, as every schnorrer knows, supporting the poor is a commandment from God (a mitzvah) not just a favour. And as the descendant of Portuguese Jews who had lived in England for many generations, Manasseh is the social superior of those newly arrived from Eastern Europe (called ‘Tedesco’), even his wealthy patron Joseph Grobstock. As this hilarious satire concludes the ever-audacious Manasseh strikes a blow for tolerance—while helping himself along the way. Israel Zangwill (1864-1926) was born in England of Russian parents. He was the author of “Children of the Ghetto,” a novel set in London’s heavily Jewish East End.
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