Obituary: Professor Ernest (Kopul) Krausz

Sociologist who launched one of the first sample surveys into Jewish identity


Shaving reached Britain as a 17 year old from Romania two years after the Second World War, Professor Ernest Kopul Krausz was still a sociology student when he carried out pioneering studies of the Jewish communities in Leeds and Edgware. He was the first to point out the increasing intermarriage rate, paving the way to his future as a sociology professor in London and Ramat Gan, Israel.

Krausz, who has died aged 87, was a direct descendant of the Panim Meirot Rabbi of Eisenstadt, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The son of Rabbi Moshe Eliezer Krausz and Beila (née Gottlieb), he grew up with his two older sisters Elli and Litsa in Alba Iulia, where his father was Chief Rabbi. During the war, part of their home was occupied by Nazis, and his father was frequently beaten by the Iron Guard. They often had to flee their home to escape danger.

In England Rabbi Krausz served in rabbinical positions in Leeds and London, including as a Dayan. The young Ernest learned English very quickly and matriculated, having attended Etz Chaim Yeshiva in London for four years.

After graduating from the London School of Economics with a PhD in sociology, he taught at various colleges, and finally at City University, London. In 1962, he married Gillian Collins from Sunderland and settled in Golders Green, NW London where Sara, Miriam, David and Benjamin were born. Ten years ago, he suffered the tragic loss of his eldest daughter, Dr Sara Cohen-Krausz, a talented biochemist, to whose memory his book, Exploring Reality and its Uncertainties, is dedicated.

In 1972 the family made aliyah and he became Professor of Sociology at Bar Ilan University at the age of just over 40. His wife worked in the Municipal Library until she retired. He rose to become Dean of the Social Science Faculty, then Rector, and served as Acting President of the University in 1989. Between 1991 and 1997 Prof. Krausz was a member of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israeli Council for Higher Education. He mastered Hebrew and lectured to soldiers as his army reserve duty for many years.

After retiring from Bar Ilan University in 2001, he taught for over 12 years at the Netanya Academic College.

His colleague and life-long friend Stephen Miller, Emeritus Professor of Social Research at City University, described him as a “polymath whose interests and intellectual contributions extended from empirical research methods – to the philosophy of science. In his early days as a specialist in ethnic minorities he was responsible for one of the first sample surveys of British Jews, initiating a trend in the study of Jewish identity and religious engagement which has continued to enrich our understanding of British Jewry to this day.”

“In one of his many published works (The Limits of Science, 2000) he demonstrated his remarkable capacity to evaluate vast areas of scientific knowledge, using incisive thinking and his own research to illustrate the limitations and uncertainties associated with apparently well-established ‘facts’ – Ernest stood out as a much needed intellectual middleman, with the ability to explain, analyse and critique his subject in a manner that was always clear and accessible.”

He was unpretentious, kind and welcoming to everyone. He maintained this demeanour, even in the last five years of life, when he was in poor health – He was a wonderful story-teller and conversationalist. While he greatly appreciated England for taking his family in after the war, he stressed the importance of the State of Israel to the future of the Jewish people.

He is survived by his wife, three children, 14 grandchildren, one great-grandson and extended family.



Ernest (Kopul) Krausz: born August 13, 1931. Died: December 10, 2018

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive