Victorians such as Watson also “knew” that Jews were emotional. Emotion, however well disguised and controlled, was and is essential for an actor. Furthermore, acting and boxing, another of Holmes talents, were, and to this day still are, fields through which otherwise despised minorities can move up in the world.

Holmes’ knowledge of gems was not surprising when one considers that in many times and places, Jews frequently were forbidden to own land. Jewish wealth therefore had to be portable, and perforce, Jews learned to deal in gems and gold. Holmes must have learned about jewels as a child from a relative.

The need for portable assets had, long before Holmes’ time, led to the development of international banking systems, the most well-known being that of the Rothschild family. It was no doubt through their well-known widespread system of contacts that Holmes was able to keep in touch with Mycroft throughout the hiatus.
This leaves us with the violin, the bees, and the nose. Watson told us the violin came from a Jew (CARD). He preferred to conceal that the Stradivarius was either a generous gift from a wealthy relative, possibly one in the jewelry business, or was a fee from someone in the French branch of the Rothschild family, who retained Holmes when particular discretion was required. However, Watson did tell us as much of the truth as possible. The meager cost - 55 shillings - was the price paid for the case, bow, strings, rosin, and other paraphernalia, which Holmes purchased himself.

The bees were quite likely at first Watson’s pawkily humorous reference to the land of milk and honey. Holmes enjoyed this subtle comment on his origins, which were never detected by Watson’s readers, of course. Bees began to intrigue Holmes, who knew that honey from the Holy Land was especially delicious. In time, Holmes’ scientific bent led him to try to reproduce that sort of honey in England through an understanding of the bees’ social system.

The nose speaks for itself.



In choosing to stress these facets of Holmes’ personality, Watson gave us the clues to Holmes’ Jewishness, leaving their interpretation to the perceptive reader. There is still more to learn. Watson hints at further questions to be pursued.

Has anyone researched the standard and Hebrew calendars to determine possible coincidences between the dates on which Holmes didn’t eat and Yom Kippur or other fast days? Was his fondness for disguise and costumes a relic of early Purim celebrations? Did his plaintive cry that he could not make bricks without clay (COPP) spring straight from his knowledge of Seder readings? Did his friends in odd parts of London (ILLU) live in Golders Green? Does Holmes’ fondness for Turkish baths spring from a visit to

the Lower East Side of New York City?

We must, in fairness, look for evidence against Holmes' being a Jew. What Canonical clues exist that Holmes was of Protestant or, given his French ancestry, Catholic descent? Here one must consider the dog that did nothing in the night (SILV) and the implications of that quiet animal.

What did Watson not mention? Among Holmes’ frequent quotations, how many came from the New Testament? How often did he go to church? Watching Irene Adler get married does not count. And speaking of Adler, what was a Rabbi doing in his index (SCAN) anyway?


The gentleman in question could have been of no interest to a man specializing in detection, but of some interest to an intellectual Jew keeping up with current religious thinking. Subtle matters indeed, but subtlety was needed to avoid exposure while revealing the truth.

The best evidence that Holmes was not as one of his education and class might be expected to be lies in what Watson did not tell us. He told us how Holmes ate, dressed, slept, and kept his correspondence and tobacco. There would have been no reason for Watson to write so little of Holmes’ family background unless there were every reason to conceal it. The improbable remains: Holmes was Jewish.