Painful memory that must be honoured
After 70 years since the UN General Assembly voted on the Partition Plan, adopted by 33 votes to 13 with 10 abstentions, leading to the miraculous rebirth of Israel, it is rightly seen as one of the most momentous events in the history of the Jewish people.
Beginning on 30 November 1947, the day after the UN vote, vicious anti-Jewish riots broke out in Syria, Bahrain and Aden, where 87 Jews were killed. A mass exodus followed, mostly to Israel. To preserve the stories of these Jewish refugees, the Israeli Knesset passed a law in 2014 designating 30 November as Memorial Day for Jewish Refugees from Arab countries and Iran.
The Arab states were never made to honour the last few words of the Balfour Declaration: that nothing be done to prejudice “the rights and political status of Jews in any other country” — 850,000 Jews fled as a result of violence and state-sanctioned persecution. Only 4,000 remain.
My organisation, Harif, celebrates the refugees’ successful resettlement in Israel and the West, and their exodus as a liberation from tyranny, but it will also remember their painful uprooting.
While we must never stop celebrating milestones such as the Balfour Declaration and the Partition Plan, the disastrous reprisals suffered by the ancient Jewish communities of the Arab and Muslim world must never be forgotten.
Mrs Lyn Julius
Harif (UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa)
Poignant diary shows resolve and spirit
Following Rabbi Birnbaum’s article (24 November) about our remembrance of the sacrifices of Jewish members of the armed forces, I thought your readers might be interested in the last paragraphs of the wartime diary of my father (David de Lange).
He commanded a minesweeper in the Second World War and the diary ends as he sets off to sweep ahead of the D-day invasion:
“The war is a just one that must be fought and if I don’t come through it, I feel that I shall have died for no mean end. I hope that you, my wife, will understand that and know that, though I love you most dearly, I should die with no regrets, because I love you most dearly and because there could be no happiness for such as you unless our war be won.
Look after our baby. Teach it to laugh and to think and to laugh at what it thinks. Teach it to love, as we have loved, to have faith and trust, as we have, in the Almighty and teach it that from Calais to Dover is nineteen sea miles.
My soul I entrust to my good Lord. Into his keeping I trust the ship in which I serve and all those comrades who put their faith in my command.
Grant, Lord, that we may all play our parts worthily, and that there may be no flinching, no unworthy act, no faintness to mar our work.
Protect, Lord, all our dear ones, whom we may see no more, and receive, at the end, our souls.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And to you, my wife, all my love.”
The baby referred to is my brother, Rabbi Professor Nicholas de Lange.
Happily, my father did survive and went on to fight in the Israeli War of Independence and played a leading role in establishing the Israeli Navy.
We must remember.
Matthew de Lange
Teacher on trial?
Regarding the story, JFS teacher in anti-Zionism row (1 December) there is a wonderful play and film by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee called Inherit The Wind in which a teacher is put on trial at the will of the mob for daring to teach his class that there is an alternative view to the Creation. It became a local cause célèbre known as the Monkey Trial.
At the JFS, Mr Saunders, for many of his students, had brought history to life. From direct reports I receive from his students , I have no doubt that he will be the teacher that they remember later on in life and should be congratulated for encouraging the pupils to consider even the less palatable sides of the argument .
Please JFS, don’t bow to the mob and allow a latter day monkey trial. It doesn’t reflect well on the school, particularly one funded by the public purse, to silence those who put out alternative viewpoints.
Dark age rage
In Gerald Silverstein’s letter (24 November) criticising Rabbi Hannah Kingston’s complaint about receiving personal comments on her appearance, I note that he puts the word “rabbi” in inverted commas, illustrating the contempt he feels for women in the pulpit.
Perhaps you should have removed the commas — although, by leaving them, you showed that there are still some men who remain, as far as women’s role in prayer is concerned, in the dark ages.
Hillel Brum chum
In 2018, Ruth Jacobs will celebrate 40 years of taking care of Hillel House and its student residents here in Birmingham. We plan to hold a tribute dinner in October to celebrate this amazing and dedicated service to the Jewish student community.
We hope to contact as many of Birmingham Hillel residents from the past who would be interested in attending. If that is you, please contact me at the email address below.
If you know of any friend , family member or other contact who might be interested, please pass on my details.
So far, we have found a former student who was at Hillel 37 years ago. Hopefully, we can find a past student from 1978!
Bare head ache
Every man’s worst nightmare in shul is that, turning to speak to the person next to him, his kippah falls off into the row behind. How much more concerning if it is encrusted with crystals and diamonds and worth £125,000 (JC 1 Dec). One can only imagine the scramble to pick it up.
In the early 20th century, Lizzie Hands was a Jewish artist/feminist who played a large part in advocacy for the removal of disabilities affecting Jewish women.
In about 1940, she moved to New Zealand, presumably for health reasons, and eventually died in Australia. From the moment she left Britain, she seems to have vanished from Anglo-Jewish history, and I am trying to find information about her New Zealand and Australian periods. If you have relevant information, please email me at the address below.
Emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue , Sydney (former minister of the Hampstead Synagogue).
Where is my old best friend?
I wonder if anyone could help me find my old best friend from school-days in London.
My name is Brenda Inns (née Noble). I was born in East London in 1944 and grew up in Forest Gate E7.
I was at Shaftesbury Road Infant School where I met my then best friend Marie R Mercado. She lived near the school in Lens Road, Forest Gate, E7. She was an only child, her dad was Michael Mercado (a secondhand car dealer) and her mum was Alice Mercado (née Garcia).
We went through all our schooling together until the age of 18, when I left for teacher training college. As I recall, her dad died in 1963 and Marie married a Ronald Coleman in 1965 in Stepney. Sadly, this marriage did not last and she later married Mark Waterman in Newham in 1971. Since then, I have lost all track of her.
I would desperately like to know if anyone knew or knows of Marie after this time.
Please contact me at the email address below.