Leo Baeck 2


Extracts from the Oct 2002 Journal

Fin-de-siècle template (editorial)

When an animal is about to be attacked, it can either fight or flee. A third - rather hypothetical - response is to be prescient and adopt protective mimicry - i.e. camouflage - to escape the attention of the predators. [more...]

The Diasporists

From the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD to the creation of Israel in 1948, Jews were objects - i.e. victims - of history, rather than its subjects. Zionism arose in response to immemorial exile, Russian pogroms and the Dreyfus trial. [more...]

Saving the world from itself: a visit to a unique institution

Tucked away in the middle of nowhere in particular, and heralded only by the odd AA road sign, nothing prepares you for the impact of Beth Shalom. On my first visit to the centre, I stepped around a beautiful flower bed - my first indication of the spirituality of this unique place - leading into a reception area, which doubles as a bookshop. [more...]

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Max Did you ever see that poll about the greatest English monarch?
Leo I did
Max And what did you think of the result?
Leo Not much
Max Why is that? (Takes out notebook, starts to scribble)
Leo Because Elizabeth came top of the poll
Max Why - what have you got against Good Queen Bess?
Leo She was an antisemite
Max But she didn't know any Jews!
Leo She knew The Merchant of Venice
Max Personally?
Leo No - but by repute
Max You mean ill repute?
Leo 'Fraid so. Just the same, knowing what an unscrupulous spin doctor Shakespeare was - look at the hoicker he pinned on Richard III! - she asked him to do a whitewash job on her six-times married father Henry VIII. The result was The Merry Wives of Windsor
Max Point taken! So who is your favourite monarch?
Leo George I
Max George I?
Leo Ja!
Max Remind me - what is he famous for?
Leo For never learning English
Max And that makes him your favourite?
Leo Sure, because I learned it - so I am at least his equal
Max Now you're getting political
Leo Am I?
Max Don't you know that today's politics is tomorrow's history? Or is it yesterday's? Anyway - who is your second most favourite monarch?
Leo George II
Max For what reason?
Leo He was an early supporter of the Lubavicher Rebbe
Max How do you make that out?
Leo Look at the King's enthusiasm for The Meshiach! When he first heard it he leapt to his feet. Ever since, people have stood up when the orchestra plays that passage
Max That's an interesting point … OK - who's in third place?
Leo Queen Victoria
Max Why?
Leo Because she was such a bundle of fun
Max What? I always thought she was a misery
Leo That's the result of spin doctoring. She was a philosemitic funster. Didn't she say to Mendelssohn when he came to Windsor: 'We two could make beautiful music together?' Didn't she create Disraeli Lord Baconsfield? And at Lord Rothschild's investiture, didn't she order the band to play Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?
Max No comment! Right - who's your number four?
Leo Edward VII
Max On what grounds?
Leo He observed the Yom Kippur fast
Max How do you know that?
Leo He always dined out with his Jewish pals - the Rothschilds at Waddesdon, the Sassoons at Trent Park, or Ernest Cassel. But on that day he had to go without, poor man!
Max Correct me if I am wrong - but aren't you obsessed with Jews?
Leo Who should I be obsessed with - Muslims?
Max (Laughs) Muslims reminds me: who are your five least favourite monarchs?
Leo Elizabeth I've already mentioned. Then there's Richard I who killed Jews in Jerusalem, Edward I who expelled them from England, and Edward VIII who chummed up with Hitler. And last but not least, George V
Max Why - what did he do wrong?
Leo He always took his holidays in Bognor instead of Bournemouth. If it wasn't for him, Bournemouth might now be glorying in the appellation Bournemouth Regis
Max Oh, what a lateral thinker you are! (Glances at his notebook) I notice that you've only given me four favourite kings
Leo I'll give you a fifth: Oliver Cromwell
Max Cromwell was no king!
Leo But he allowed the Jews back into England! [link]

Continental Britons

Kinder applaud rescue hero Nicholas Winton at Imperial War Museum gathering

Saviour of hundreds of endangered Jewish children in Czechoslovakia in 1939, Nicholas Winton, a sprightly and sharp-witted 93-year-old, was guest of honour at a gathering of 200 Kindertransport members of the AJR hosted by the Imperial War Museum. The reception was part of the Continental Britons exhibition events programme illustrating the experiences of Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe who settled in Britain. [more...]

A two-way process (review)

Walter Laqueur
Brandeis University Press, 2001 [more...]

A story told with pauses: Profile of Rolf Weinberg

A photograph of Rolf Weinberg shows him in his Free French officer's uniform, looking every inch the part of a noble warrior. The photo is reproduced in a finely illustrated paperback book detailing parts of Rolf's life which appeared earlier this year. 'Much of his story is left untold', Rabbi Rodney Mariner comments in a preface. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Dutch bank and insurance claims

Now that negotiations involving Jewish representative groups with Dutch banks and, separately, the Dutch Association of Insurers, have been concluded, claims can be filed in respect of dormant Dutch bank accounts and unpaid insurance policies bought before the Second World War in The Netherlands. [more...]

Fresh air fashionable

This summer's talks and Continental Britons exhibition have highlighted the area around the Finchley Road which became home to many refugees from Nazi Europe. Today, between Finchley Road tube station and the AJR offices, there has sprung up a large mall of American-owned retail and entertainment outlets (plus a large Sainsbury) called the 02 Centre. The 02 symbol has been adopted by mobile phone operator BTCellnet, which recently changed its name to mm02 (mm standing for mobile media) and then abbreviated it still further to just 02. Why? [more...]