Born in London’s poverty-stricken and heavily Jewish East End, the Lipcott boys create their own successes in life and love. The brothers’ commitment to improving the lives of working class people leads them to concoct The Scheme to help both the residents of their former neighbourhood and the Jewish people as a whole. The author stresses the responsibility of middle class Jews toward the Jewish poor. Consequently, this 1900 story has its preachy moments as well as some essentialised speculations about Jewish history and character. But the book isn’t all earnestness – there are character studies, love interests, and some great comic scenes, too!
The son of a Russian rabbi, Samuel Gordon (1871-1927) was born in Germany and came to England at the age of 13. Like Phil Lipcott, his protagonist in this novel, Gordon attended Cambridge University. The club envisioned by The Scheme seems modeled after London’s Jewish Working Men’s Institute. This was one of several East End organisations (e.g., the Jewish Girls Club, the Brady Boys Club) established by Jewish philanthropists around the turn of the 19th century to “instill in the rising generation all that is best in the English character…” (Col. A. E. Goldsmit, founder of the Jewish Lads Brigade). (Summary by Adrian Praetzellis)
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