More than 4 decades ago, a 20-year-old student took a trip which changed his life. He spent two months in the United States in 1968, meeting some of the leading thinkers of American Jewry. That student was Jonathan Sacks, now the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who recalls how his formative experience in the US was made possible by a travel grant awarded by B’nai B’rith UK.
When Jackie Benjamin gave birth to her first son 18 years ago, the last thing she expected was a descent into manic depression. “I felt elated and euphoric, and so keen to write down all the details of Alex’s birth I didn’t feel like sleeping,” says the Birmingham-based lawyer.
But gradually she became more and more fraught trying to breastfeed, while the lack of sleep made her “so tired, I thought I was going to die. No-one mentioned they thought I was going mad, but when a social worker called, I did wonder if they wanted to section me or take my child away.”
Vienna, 25 July 1947: Anton Sauerwald looked very haggard for a man of 44. His doctor, Karl Szekely, had written many times to the court to explain that his patient was suffering from tuberculosis and the proceedings should be delayed. Sauerwald had spent a month in hospital. However, Judge Schachermayr would have no more delays.
For most of the war Sauerwald had been an officer in the Luftwaffe, not a pilot but a technical expert. In March 1945 he was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp at Bad Heilbrunn run by the Americans, but in June he was released and returned to Vienna.
For his November trip to London, Dr Norman Rosenthal has packed a very important piece of bedside equipment with his shaving kit and toothbrush. It is the size of a paperback, but it is not a book or even an alarm clock — it’s a portable lightbox.
“I don’t go anywhere without it,” says the man who learned the hard way that he needed a daily turbo-infusion of wattage to get him through the winter. For Rosenthal is the man who discovered that diminishing daylight brings on SAD — the seasonal affective disorder which translates to one in five of us as winter blues.
He made his name as the effortlessly cool, self-assured Arthur Fonzarelli, so it is a surprise to discover that Henry Winkler never felt that confident in real life. Instead, the American-Jewish actor, who is most famous for his leather-clad role as the Fonz in the sitcom Happy Days, grew up feeling stupid and unhappy. Even his barmitzvah — memorable day though it was — did not go exactly as he would have wished.
Amid all the testimonies about Auschwitz and the Final Solution which have been published since the end of the Second World War, one small group has remained silent.
Alongside the main Auschwitz complex was a prisoner-of-war camp known as Auschwitz E715, where the inmates included several hundred British soldiers.
They have not talked about their experience until now, partly because they were traumatised by what happened to them in the camp, partly because they thought that no-one would be interested, but mainly because few people were aware of their existence.
For people who have been lied to about their true identity and who then find out they are in fact Jewish, the revelation has a unique and powerful effect.
Crime writer and film producer Peter James was raised by a quintessentially English father and a supposedly Catholic mother. It was only when he began facing daily taunts of “Jew! Jew! Jew!” from a group of his fellow schoolboys, who singled him out because of his physical characteristics, that he first suspected he was Jewish.
Anyone visiting Manchester in recent years will testify as to how the once-tired industrial city has undergone a massive facelift. The streets are alive with energy thanks to the bars, restaurants, designer shops and hotels that have sprung up all over its centre.
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the ship. It was a luxury liner and we were kids, thrilled to see there were cinemas, comfortable cabins and a swimming pool. It was such a contrast to the misery of our life in Berlin.