Because the Jews had been expelled from England in 1290, the conversos could not openly live as Jews in this locale. Portuguese merchants began to settle in London in the seventeenth century and quietly began the task of building a community, forming the congregation of Shaar Asamaim, although at first they imported leaders (hahamim) from Amsterdam and elsewhere. Not all were able to commit themselves to the new and, at times, onerous demands of Jewish life. This, together with the open nature of British society, led to a considerable degree of assimilation and intermarriage. Regardless of the path they chose, the majority of the conversos had strong ethnic ties to their fellow members of the Nation.
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