Wednesday 14 October 1663
Up and to my office, where all the morning, and part of it Sir J. Minnesspent, as he do every thing else, like a fool, reading the Anatomy of the body to me, but so sillily as to the making of me understand any thing that I was weary of him, and so I toward the ‘Change and met with Mr. Grant, and he and I to the Coffee-house, where I understand by him that Sir W. Petty and his vessel are coming, and the King intends to go to Portsmouthto meet it. Thence home and after dinner my wife and I, by Mr. Rawlinson’s conduct, to the Jewish Synagogue: where the men and boys in their vayles, and the women behind a lattice out of sight; and some things stand up, which I believe is their Law, in a press to which all coming in do bow; and at the putting on their vayles do say something, to which others that hear him do cry Amen, and the party do kiss his vayle. Their service all in a singing way, and in Hebrew. And anon their Laws that they take out of the press are carried by several men, four or five several burthens in all, and they do relieve one another; and whether it is that every one desires to have the carrying of it, I cannot tell, thus they carried it round about the room while such a service is singing. And in the end they had a prayer for the King, which they pronounced his name in Portugall; but the prayer, like the rest, in Hebrew. But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this.
Pepys was unlucky enough to visit the synagogue on Simchat Torah. Vayles = Talit. Press= Sefer Torah.
Who was Samuel Pepys?
I think his description of Simchat Torah is fairly accurate up to this day, and he would have made an excellent modern day blogger.Samuel Pepys was born in London on 23 February 1633, the fifth of eleven children, although by the time he was seven only three of his siblings, all younger, had survived. He was sent to grammar school at Huntingdon during the English Civil War (1642-1651), returning later to London and attending St Paul’s School. Following this he went to Cambridge where he attended Trinity Hall and thenMagdalene colleges. Not long after taking his degree in 1654 he was employed as secretary in London by Edward Mountagu, a distant relative who was now aCouncillor of State.In 1655 Pepys married Elizabeth St Michel and at some point after 1656, while still attached to Mountagu’s service, Pepys became clerk to George Downing, a Teller of the Receipt in the Exchequer. However, he and his wife separated for a while (for unknown reasons) and in 1658 he had a bladder stone removed in a dangerous operation. Later the same year Pepys and his wife moved from a single room in Mountagu’s lodgings to Axe Yard near the palace of Westminster, where he was living when starting the diary in 1660.
I was reading this because of a reference in the Jewish Chronicle of the saying of the King's Prayer - but I have no idea why "British" Jews were saying the king's name in Portuguese.