Israel Ambassador Daniel Taub saluted the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at a gala dinner to celebrate its 40th anniversary. And Mr Taub can claim first-hand knowledge of its benefits — he once was a student there.
While an undergraduate at Oxford, he took a course in Yiddish at the centre with legendary teacher, Dovid Katz.
When he told his grandmother about it, she quipped: “You go to Oxford to learn Yiddish?”
But the course helped him to translate some of her Yiddish expressions, such as “next to a kreplach, a piece of lokshen also makes a living” and “may all your teeth fall out except one — and that should give you toothache”.
The envoy also demonstrated his tutorial talents when he visited the centre recently, taking a seminar for Masters students on the biblical encounter between Jacob and Esau.
Another high-level student was Mihai Ungureanu, who last week resigned as Prime Minister of Romania. He sent a message to the dinner, saying that studying at the centre had been “one of the richest experiences” of his life.
More than 200 guests at the Savoy Hotel were entertained by speeches from TV personality Clive Anderson and producer Dan Patterson, son of the centre’s founder, Professor David Patterson. Diners included TV presenter Tania Bryer and musician Erran Baron Cohen, who composed the score for his brother Sacha’s new film The Dictator.
Oxford Centre president David Ariel said that it had raised nearly £1 million this year towards its £1.5 million fundraising target. Its chairman Lord Fink was presented with an original print by artist Carole Berman as a thank-you for his work.