In the sprawling landscape of Anglo-Jewry, one man has tirelessly worked to bring people together. Malcolm Weisman, the Minister for Small Communities, has spent decades travelling across the UK, offering support, inspiration, and a sense of belonging to communities in the furthest flung boondocks of Anglo Jewry.
Weisman's remarkable life story, spanning his work as an RAF chaplain, barrister, and minister, is now chronicled in his autobiography, A Wing and a Prayer. The book offers a glimpse into the extraordinary journey of a man dedicated to fostering spiritual and social connections in the often-overlooked corners of British Jewish life.
Geraldine Auerbach MBE helped to produce the book and expressed the uniqueness of Malcolm’s story. "He knows more about British Jewry than many a rabbi who sits in a pulpit. He has criss-crossed the country from end to end and knows what is happening on the ground."
Malcolm’s son, Brian, attested to his father's indispensable role in sustaining small communities. "If it hadn't been for my dad being appointed by the Chief Rabbi to look after small communities, a lot of these communities wouldn’t now exist."
From Aberdeen to Norwich, Malcolm’s work has left an impact. A standout example is the Jersey community. Even at nearly 90, Malcolm continued his visits to the small island’s shul.
Brian highlighted Malcolm's unique ability to cater to diverse needs within communities. "He is very middle of the road, can lead either way, and respects everybody’s point of view."
Ed Horwich, founder of the Jewish Small Communities Network (JSCN), praised Malcolm's renegade spirit and his crucial role in rejuvenating communities. "It can be hard to keep spirits up when it is the same people doing the same things all the time. Having someone like Malcolm come in and say what you’re doing is worth it helps to recharge the batteries.”
Reverend Malcolm Weisman with the Queen and Raymond Franks, J-Soc president, opening the multifaith chaplaincy at Lancaster University
When Ed started JSCN, “everyone asked me: ‘Have you spoken to Malcolm?’” The two struck up a friendship and now, whenever Ed engages with a new community, “they say: ‘Do you know Malcolm?’ They share an awful lot of love for Malcolm.”
His autobiography, A Wing and a Prayer, chronicles a life of service to country and community, a testament to a man dedicated to uplifting the soul of Anglo-Jewry.
A Wing and a Prayer by Malcolm Weisman is published by Vallentine Mitchell
On Sunday January 21 at 11am, there will be an online book launch of A Wing and a Prayer, hosted by the Jewish Small Communities Network. It will be a chance to hear and share memories of Malcolm Weisman’s contributions to small Jewish communities and the armed forces. To register, please go to: jscn.org.uk/booking.
The event is free, with an optional donation.