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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘England’

Yakima Congregation Reveres Ancient Torah Saved from the Holocaust

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Rabbi Moshe Druin, an expert in evaluating and repairing Torahs, visited from Miami Beach to inspect a 150-year-old Torah belonging to Temple Shalom on Browne Avenue, in Yakima, Wash.

Druin, a sopher or scribe, assessed the Yakima Torah for signs of wear and tear, and, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic, alternately enlightened, delighted and awed the congregation with his findings.

Not only does that Torah have a historical provenance, it’s a rare copy that will probably never be made in the same way again, Druin explained.

The congregation of 48 families was aware that their Torah had been rescued from what was once Czechoslovakia after World War II. Druin filled in the details:

During World War II, Jews in Nazi-occupied Prague sent messages around the countryside for fellow Jews to bring their family heirlooms and Torahs to be housed safely with the blessings of the Nazis, who were planning to create a museum of a lost race after they exterminated all the Jews.

In the 1950s, a London art dealer was visiting countries in communist Eastern Europe and discovered 1,681 scrolls, or Torahs, in a Czechoslovakian basement, the largest concentration in history.

“He flipped out,” Druin said.

The art dealer returned to England, gathered money and headed to Prague to buy back all the stashed Torahs. Later, after being held by a trust in England, many of those Torahs have been loaned out to synagogues around the world.

Temple Shalom’s was one of them.

“Take it out and commemorate it,” Druin told the congregation. “Keep the memory alive of the people it belonged to.”

Rabbi Moshe Druin: “How do you fence a stolen Torah”

Kate Middleton’s Favorite Designer Built on Hasidic Kapote

Monday, February 13th, 2012

The favorite clothing designer of Duchess Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William of England, built her success on the purchase of a Hasidic boy’s coat in a second hand store in Israel.

Katherine Hooker visited Israel a decade ago, and fell in love with a long black Hasidic kapote in a second hand store, according to the designer.  Soon after, she found a tailor in India who agreed to make her a copy.  When her friends became enamored of the garment, she made several duplicates, ultimately opening her own shop in London in 2004.  Some of her items sell for almost $2,000.

Middleton has become a fashion icon since her highly-publicized engagement and wedding to Prince William. She is particularly liked in the religious Jewish community, because of her tendency toward non-revealing attire.

Reaping The Fruits Of His Labor

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Reb Pinchos, born in Romania, moved shortly after birth with his parents to Vienna. As a teenager, he learned in another city and took his Gemara with him. Pinchos remembered how his rebbe always liked to teach from his Gemara. He remembered Kristallnacht vividly, as he and his parents left Vienna fearing for their lives. Upon returning to their house, the family found all the books and furniture smashed, but miraculously, of all the sefarim that had been destroyed, the Gemara that he took with him to yeshiva was untouched. In addition, the sefer Torah they had hidden on top of a bookcase in their home had fallen behind the bookcase – but was untouched.

Shortly after, Reb Pinchos and his parents left Vienna for England. Little did he know what the future had in store for him. Hundreds of people had escaped from Europe to England and the British were afraid that Nazi spies might have been among the escapees. His parents, being in their 70s, were allowed to remain in England, but Reb Pinchos and 2,000 other Jews were told that they were going to be deported from England. With a heavy heart he bade farewell to his parents, knowing that this would be the last time he would see them.

He and his fellow Jews were taken to a large ship, the infamous Dunera, which had a transport capacity of 800 – but was now packed with 2,000 people. They had no idea where they were going, and most only had their personal belongings in a small bag. The ship’s British soldiers went through all those belongings and stole anything of value – while personal papers were thrown into the sea. Conditions on board were terrible, with little food available, and the deportees were allowed on deck for fresh air for only an hour a day.

One day while at sea everyone was told, without explanation, to go below deck. Suddenly, the whole ship shook as if something had hit it. Little did they know that a torpedo had hit the ship, but miraculously didn’t explode. Not long after the war, the captain of the U-boat that had fired the torpedo wrote that he had noticed papers in the water and sent divers in to retrieve them. It turned out that about 200 German prisoners of war were on the Dunera, and when the German submarine’s commander found papers belonging to these prisoners, he commanded all the U-boats in the area not to fire at the ship. He accompanied the boat into safe waters.

After about 7-8 weeks, the ship arrived in Australia. The headline in the paper there read, “Enemy Aliens Arrive In Australia.” Reb Pinchos and the other Jews were taken to Tatura in New South Wales, where they were interned and kept behind barbed wires.

With World War II in progress, all able-bodied men had gone off to war and people were needed to pick fruit. Reb Pinchos and others were taken to the orchards to pick the fruit. As the first Shabbos was approaching, Reb Pinchos was concerned about having to work on Shabbos, but as he was officially a prisoner of war he questioned as to what to do. He decided to speak to the farmer, explaining to him the prohibition of working on Shabbos and offering to work on Sunday instead. To his surprise the farmer said that he would honor the request to not work on Shabbos, and he added that he did not want Reb Pinchos to work on Sunday either, since that was his “Shabbos.”

While working there, Reb Pinchos discovered that there was a shul in the area belonging to the Feiglin family. After his first visit to the shul, one of the Feiglin sons picked him up every Friday in order to spend Shabbos with the Feiglins. Reb Pinchos was returned to the farm on Sunday. When Reb Pinchos completed his job of picking the fruit at this farm, the farmer told him that he found a job for him picking fruit at a neighboring farm. And the farmer mentioned to Reb Pinchos’s new boss that Reb Pinchos did not work on Shabbos, a condition she accepted.

Eventually Reb Pinchos joined the Australian army. He married and raised a heimishe Jewish family – instilled with the values of Torah and Yiddishkeit.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Balanced View

I am happy you sounded a note of caution in your analysis of the Beit Shemesh controversy and urged great care that Torah values are not demeaned because the actions of a lunatic fringe gets the most media attention (“The Violence in Beit Shemesh,” editorial, Dec. 30).

There continues to be no lack of exuberant and furious critics of those who spit at little girls, but the defenders of Torah values are far and few between.

Michael Guttman (Via E-Mail)

 

Silence On Paul

Last week’s editorial “Ron Paul, Israel, And The Other GOP Candidates” makes an extremely important observation. If Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Bachmann feel so strongly in favor of Israel, how is it that they have not called Ron Paul out on his virulent attacks on the Jewish state? I think the reason lies not in their lack of commitment but in the dynamics of their constituencies.

There are many Americans who generally want to see massive cutbacks in foreign aid and the projection of U.S. power overseas and while most people who hold that view are not particularly focused on Israel, the fact is that Israel would definitely be impacted. Fear of alienating that segment of voters may have a lot to do with the silence of the GOP candidates on the issue.

Isaac Rich (Via E-Mail)

 

Friedman’s Ugly Slur

The unmitigated gall New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman must have toward our government is nothing short of alarming.

As Jason Maoz (Media Monitor) and Jonathan Tobin (op-ed column) noted in the Dec. 23 issue of The Jewish Press, Friedman recently suggested that U.S. Congress “was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” when it gave Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu several standing ovations.

To be sure, this statement is consistent with Friedman’s usual anti-Israel sentiment. Why would an educated journalist make such a rash statement? Even a blind man can see the reason Congress repeatedly stood up for Netanyahu is because the lawmakers were showing support for a country that espouses the same values and ideals we do.

Netanyahu was greeted with applause and shouts of approval because Israel and the United States have been longstanding allies sharing mutual admiration for one another.

Judge Norman Ciment (Via E-Mail)

Editor’s Note: Mr. Ciment is a former mayor of Miami Beach.

 

Danger To Democracy?

We have heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many others that various episodes of “inequality” in Israel represent a danger to Israeli democracy.

In America, the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was first proposed in 1923. It was endorsed by President Eisenhower in 1953. The pressure built up in the 1970s when thirty-five of America’s fifty states ratified the ERA, but then five of those states later rescinded their ratification. It never did become the law of the land. Does this mean America is like Saudi Arabia or Iran?

A generation back America’s Ivy League universities were exclusively male, with the “Seven Sister” colleges as female counterparts. Oxford and Cambridge had separate colleges for males and females. Top independent schools and many state grammar schools were single sex in the UK and the U.S. Did that make us like Saudi Arabia or Iran?

Joseph Feld London, England

 

Orthodox Students In A Secular Academic Environment

Rather than a lesson in education, Karen Greenberg’s article “A Lesson in Education” (Jewish Press Teen Section, Dec. 16) highlighted the lack of education being provided in yeshivas these days.

There is no reason that someone graduating yeshiva high school plus one year of yeshiva in Israel should feel threatened by poetry extolling agnosticism. Furthermore, as stated in the article, this concept is being put forth as a “theory.” It would be a poor professor who would teach it as a definite fact and demand that one must question the belief in a divinity. Just because a professor explains the rationale of a theory does not pose a demand that anyone accept the theory. It simply raises a question for people to ponder – should they wish to ponder it.

All a professor can demand is that the student be able to explain the theory and the support for it, but he cannot demand its acceptance. As such, an approximately 20-year-old well educated yeshiva student should not be experiencing the shock and dismay expressed by Ms. Greenberg.

I clearly recall the course in Classics I took in college where we discussed in depth the Greek and Roman gods. I never felt threatened, intellectually or religiously, by these discussions. The same was true for the other courses in which issues touching on religion arose. I knew my position and was able to hear a differing point of view and even explain it in detail – and still walk away with my own belief intact.

Bilhah Abigail Franks: Early American Jewish Matriarch

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
(Unless otherwise indicated all quotes are from “Early American Jewry, The Jews of New York, New England and Canada, 1649-1794″ by Jacob Rader Marcus, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1951.)
In general, little is known about Jewish women who resided in America during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Two exceptions are Rebecca Machado Phillips[i] and Rebecca Gratz[ii]. Another is Bilhah Abigail (Levy) Franks.
Abigail was born on November 26, 1696 to Moses (Raphael) and Richea (Rycha) Levy. Levy was born in Germany in 1665 and moved to London when he was a young man. There he had some success as a merchant, but felt there were more opportunities in the New World, so he decided to come to America, arriving in New York City in about 1705. Moses Levy became a substantial merchant in New York and owned a number of ships that transported goods between America and Europe. He was an active member of Congregation Shearith Israel and served for several years as parnas (president) of the synagogue. 
“When he [Moses Levy] emigrated to this country there came with him a man younger than he, but who was destined to play an important part in the affairs of the congregation as well as the city of his adoption. This was Jacob, the son of Naphtali Franks, who was born in Germany in the year 1688, and went from there to London to seek his fortune. He also thought that the New World would offer to him an enlarged field, and while his tastes were literary rather than mercantile, like many others before and since, he realized perhaps that the road to wealth was more rapid through the avenues of commerce than through the efforts of the pen.”[iii]
Jacob Franks had an intellectual bent, was learned in Jewish law, spoke a number of languages, and was called “rabbi” by members of Congregation Shearith Israel. In 1712, at the age of 25, he married Abigail Levy, who was then 16 years old. Jacob became a prosperous New York businessman.
“The Frankses had nine children, born between 1715 and 1742. [Two died before the age of seven.] The family was active in New York’s Jewish life – they belonged to congregation Shearith Israel, where Jacob Franks was one of four men to lay the cornerstone of the new Mill Street synagogue in 1729 and where he served as syndic [president] in 1730 – and they were active in broader Christian society, among whose women Franks counted her best friends. Franks reveled in the openness of New York society, rejoicing in the ‘Faire Charecter’ the family enjoyed among both Christians and Jews.”[iv]
“Jacob and Abigail’s oldest child was Naphtali, which Jewish tradition, based on Gen. 49: 2 I, takes to mean ‘stag’ or ‘hart,’ and hart in German is Hirsch. Like other German-Jewish families, the Frankses called their son Hirsch or Hart; Abigail called him ‘Heartsey.’ Sometime before 1737 Naphtali ‘Heartsey’ Franks was sent to London, where he was thoroughly prepared for the business world by the numerous brothers of his father. Young Franks left home probably in his teens; as far as we know, he never returned to the colonies. Ultimately he became a rich and powerful figure in the London Jewish community. Abigail kept in constant touch with her firstborn through letters.”
“Thirty-seven letters of the Franks family are known to survive, dating from May 7, 1733, to October 30, 1748. All are addressed to Naphtali Franks in England. Thirty-four are from Abigail, one is from Jacob, and two are written by his brother David. They discuss local politics, family and community activities, and aspects of the Franks family’s trans-Atlantic business. But Abigail Franks’s letters are most significant as an early American Jewish woman’s extended thoughts on the fit and fate of Judaism in colonial New York.”[v] 
It is from these letters that we know the following about Abigail:
“Abigail Levy Franks was never called upon to play a heroic role. She was the daughter of a substantial merchant, married to a prosperous businessman who daily grew in prestige and who, apparently, never experienced any serious financial reverses. She was born in an England, which now gave its Jews every opportunity to rise, at least in the economic world. A child of the British world with its budding tolerance and of the English colonial lands with their ever-expanding liberties, she faced the future. Her tongue was English, her script the roman, and she knew and quoted Dryden, Montesquieu, and Pope. She devoured the newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets of the day, read books, and enjoined upon her sons the duty of reading and studying every day while they were still young and the leisure was theirs. She saw that they were taught the painting and the music and the good manners that were expected of the children of the wealthy who moved in the magic circle of the titled and the politically powerful.
“Her children were her life, and if, unlike many women in the ghettos of continental Europe, she did not have to labor for them, she loved them no particle less. She lived and worried for her children with all the intensity of the traditional Jewish mother. Though apparently untutored in Hebraic and Yiddish sources, she was no less intensely Jewish.”
“Unflinchingly loyal to her faith, she [Abigail] was ready to sacrifice herself by sending her beloved children across the sea, to distant England, to a large Jewish community, rather than expose them to intermarriage with Gentiles yet her closest friends were Christians and she was a welcome guest in their homes. She wrote of herself as a ‘patriot’; this land was ‘our country,’ but she could never reconcile herself to intermarriage; she was determined to live and die a Jewess.”
However, it was not possible to send all of their children to England, and in 1742 their oldest daughter Phila eloped with Oliver DeLancey, who was from a prominent Christian family.  
The flight of their daughter and the disclosure that she had been secretly married for six months shocked Jacob Franks and his wife Abigail; they were observant, Orthodox Jews, and objected strenuously to intermarriage.”
In a letter to “Heartsey” dated June 27, 1743 Abigail wrote (the spelling is hers):
My spirits was for some time soe depresst that it was a pain to me to speak or see any one.I have over come it soe far as not to make my concern soe conspicuous but I shall never have that serenity nor peace within I have soe happyly had hittherto.My house has bin my prison ever since.I had not heart enough to goe near the street door. It’s a pain to me to think off goeing again to town and if your father’s buissness would permit him to live out of it I never would goe near it again.I wish it was in my power to leave this part of the world;I would come away in the first man of war that went to London.”
“This was not the last hurt she would feel. [In 1743] son David married Margaret Evans, a Christian daughter of one of Abigail’s close friends. Her younger children seem never to have married at all. Of Jacob and Abigail Franks’s more than two dozen grandchildren, not one of them appears to have passed on Judaism to his or her descendants.”[vi]

             We know that what happened to the descendents of the Frankses was, sadly, not an isolated event in American Jewish history.



[i]See “Rebecca (Machado) Phillips: Colonial Jewish Matriarch,” The Jewish Press, April 7, 2006 (http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/17894).

 

[ii]See “Rebecca Gratz: Champion Of The Unfortunate,” The Jewish Press, December 1, 2006 (http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/20057).

 

[iii] The Levy and Seixas  Families of Newport and New Yorkby N Taylor Phillips,  Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1896; 4, AJHS Journal.

 

[v]Ibid.

 

[vi]Ibid.

 

 Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

Reverend Abraham de Sola: Scholar Extraordinaire

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

(All quotes are from “History and Biographical Gazetteer of Montreal to the Year 1892″ by John Douglas Borthwick, John Lovell & Son, Montr?al [Quebec], 1892, pages 465-469.)

The name de Sola appears prominently in the annals of Spanish Jewish history. The de Solas may have settled in Andalusia (in southern Spain) as early as the sixth century.

They held various offices under the Saracenic Caliphs at Toledo and Cordova, and afterwards when they removed to Navarre they were received with like favor by the Gothic Princes. From their estate in this province, their surname had its origin. A particularly distinguished member of the family was Don Bartolomeu de Sola, who, in reward for his services, was ennobled, and, after being a Minister of State, held for a while the position of Viceroy of Navarre.

During the 14th Century another de Sola distinguished himself fighting under the Infante of Aragon, and figured conspicuously in the Spanish Wars of that period. During the succeeding centuries the family continued to hold an illustrious place, owing to the large number of eminent scholars, physicians and statesmen it produced.

The de Solas, like all Jews living in Spain, were negatively affected by persecution at the hand of the Catholic Church during the 14th and 15th centuries. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, most of the family fled to Holland, though a branch of the family settled in Portugal. These family members were forcibly converted to Catholicism in 1497 and yet managed to live as secret Jews (Marranos). In 1749 they managed to leave Portugal (which, strangely enough, persecuted secret Jews and yet did not let them immigrate). They settled in England where they could finally practice Judaism openly.

Abraham de Sola, a descendent of the de Solas who had settled in England, was born on September 18, 1825.

His father, David Aaron de Sola, was Senior Minister of the Portuguese Jews of London and was eminent as a Hebrew author, having produced among many other works an elegant translation of the Jewish Forms of Prayer, also, in conjunction with Dr. Raphall, an edition of Genesis, very valuable to Biblical students on account of its commentaries and copious notes, and the first English translation of Eighteen Treatises of the Mishna. His mother was the daughter of Dr. Raphael Meldola, Chief Rabbi of the Spanish-Jewish congregations of Britain. The Meldolas had given eminent Chief Rabbis to Europe for twelve generations.

Abraham de Sola received careful tuition [instruction] in all the usual branches of a liberal education. He became early engrossed in the study of Oriental languages and literature and of theology, and continued to devote his attention to those subjects until he acquired that profound knowledge of them which subsequently won him so prominent a place among scholars.

In 1846 Reverend de Sola was offered the position of spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in Montreal, Canada. He arrived in that city in early 1847 at the age of 21. In 1852 he married Esther Joseph, whose father was one of the earliest Jewish settlers in Montreal.

His able pulpit discourses soon attracted attention. Dr. de Sola’s abilities, however, were not destined to be confined exclusively to his official duties. Before leaving London he had been associated in the editorial work of a Hebrew journal, The Voice of Jacob, and soon after his arrival in Canada he delivered a course of lectures on Jewish history before the Mercantile Literary Association. In 1848, he published his “Notes on the Jews of Persia Under Mohammed Shah, and also “A History of the Jews of Persia.” Within the same year there appeared his important work on “Scripture Zoology.” Soon afterwards he published his “Lectures on the Mosaic Cosmogony [origin of the universe].” This was followed by his “Cosmography [Description of the Universe] of [R. Abraham] Peritsol,” a work displaying such erudition that it gained a wide circulation in Europe, and was reprinted there in several languages.

His next work, “A Commentary upon Samuel Hannagid’s Introduction to the Talmud” was a book which deservedly attracted much attention, owing to the light which it threw upon an interesting portion of rabbinical literature, and to its depth of Talmudic knowledge. In 1853 he published, conjointly with the Rev. J.J. Lyons of New York a work on the Jewish Calendar System, chiefly valuable on account of its excellent prefatory treatise upon the Jewish system of calculating time.

De Sola’s mastery of Semitic languages attracted the attention of scholars at McGill University. In 1853, after having served as a lecturer for several years, he was appointed professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literature at this institution, a position he held until his death. In 1858, in recognition of his extraordinary scholastic accomplishments, McGill conferred upon him the degree of LL.D.

Reverend de Sola’s interests were not limited to Semitics and rabbinics.

[His] wide range of studies had made him very popular both as a public lecturer and as a contributor to various literary papers. The themes of some of these were afterwards much amplified by him, and republished in their elaborated and completed form. At comparatively short intervals he gave to the public his works on “Scripture Botany,” “Sinaitic Inscriptions,” “Hebrew Numismatics,” “The Ancient Hebrews as Promoters of the Arts and Sciences,” “The Rise and Progress of the Great Hebrew Colleges,” and “Philological Studies in Hebrew and the Aramaic Languages.” Turning his attention again to Jewish History, he, in 1869, wrote his interesting “Life of Shabethai Tsevi, the False Messiah.” The following year he completed his “History of the Jews of Poland,” and in 1871 he published his “History of the Jews of France.”

Reverend de Sola maintained an almost frenetic pace of academic activity in addition to his pastoral duties at Congregation Shearith Israel. He accepted the chair of Hebrew at the Montreal Presbyterian College and later an appointment as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at McGill.

Dr. de Sola frequently lectured in the United States. In 1872 he was invited by the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant to deliver the opening prayer of the United States Congress. This was the first time someone who was not a citizen of the United States nor a Christian was given this honor. It was also particularly significant given that relations between Britain and the U.S. had lately been particularly strained. The choice of Dr. de Sola, who was a resident of Canada and a citizen of the British Empire, marked a move by the U.S. at rapprochement with England.

His incessant involvement in a myriad of activities eventually took its toll on his health. He was forced to take a year off from his activities and spent that year in Europe recuperating from his failing health. Dr. de Sola was visiting his sister in New York when he passed away on June 5, 1882. His body was brought to Montreal where he was interred.

 

Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

What The JFS Decision Means For UK Jews

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

This past Chanukah, which of course commemorates the Jews’ revolt against Greek attempts to destroy Judaism, the Supreme Court here in Great Britain issued a ruling that attacked as racist and made illegal a fundamental principle of Jewish life: that Judaism is transmitted through the mother.

According to the judges, who split 5 to 4, the halacha violates the English Race Relations Act of 1976. The immediate cause of the ruling was the admissions policy of the Jewish Free School (JFS), a state-supported Orthodox high school in London. Its admissions were similar to those at most Jewish schools: priority is given children who are halachically Jewish; if there are unfilled places they go to gentiles who have a Jewish father, followed by gentiles with no Jewish ties.

Admissions policies in Jewish schools are no different from those in Catholic or Church of England schools. The original case was brought by a Jewish man whose child is halachically non-Jewish and was refused admission because there were no places unfilled by Jewish children.

This is now illegal in England, at least for Jews. It remains to be seen whether schools of other faiths will have to scrap their admissions policies. If they do, it would mean the destruction of parochial schools, which generally give the best education available to parents who cannot afford private schools in the UK. This is something many leftists and powerful figures in the current government have long been seeking.

The court’s ruling represents the kind of state interference in the core of Judaism and Jewish life rarely seen in history. The practical significance remains to be seen. The immediate effect is to force schools to institute admissions policies based on Jewish practice, as required by the decision of the justices.

For schools serving the Torah-observant community, this is what is done formally and informally anyway. These schools want to know about the synagogue (and, if relevant, the group or community) to which the family belongs. Keeping kosher and observing Shabbat and Yom Tov according to halacha are certainly required and would be assumed in most cases. Some schools might have other criteria, such as whether or not the family has a television or Internet access.

It is for the Anglo-Jewish schools – those for whom the chief rabbi is the supreme religious authority – that the question becomes more complex. Many of these schools, such as JFS, have reached out to all Jewish children regardless of observance of their family. Some, again like JFS, have reached out to children from non-observant families in an attempt to keep such children within the Jewish community. These schools now need to draw up criteria sufficiently loose so as not to deter the very children they seek while not being so loose that they are forced to take gentile children of Jewish descent over Jewish ones.

One obvious standard is to require synagogue membership and attendance, probably on Shabbat – since mere membership would not be enough, according to the justices – at an Orthodox synagogue. In essence this is no different from what the Church of England, which has the largest parochial school network in England, has long done, giving preference to those who attend their churches. It is not unusual to find middle class English families suddenly start attending church when their children come of school age.

If this is the extent of the practical fallout from the decision, the damage will be limited. Only schools like JFS that purposely cater to children of non-observant Jews will be affected. There could even be a positive result: families who do not belong to a synagogue would be required to join an Orthodox one and actually attend.

It is not known, however, if Jewish schools could legally use halachic criteria indirectly to ascertain Jewishness. There likely will be further court cases if schools attempt indirect means to give priority to Jews. But this opens the question of what constitutes Jewish practice. The non-Orthodox can be expected to challenge any criterion based on halacha.

It is also uncertain whether other areas of Jewish life based on the halachic definition of Jewishness are open to legal challenge. If they are, it could mean the destruction of organized Jewish life in the UK.

Bubby and Zaidy: An “Einikel’s” Remembrance

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I needed Zaidy’s scissors for another chore.

It’s a heavy, garment scissor that Zaidy Meir used when he worked as a shnaider (tailor) in the City.  When he came to America with his family in 1951, he was able to get steady work although he did not speak English.

He came into my life when I was a teenager.

I never knew my own grandparents but when Zaidy and I locked eyes, it was love at first sight.

The year was 1967, a mere few weeks after the Six-Day-War. Zaidy was going to attend the first Israeli Day Parade with his two grandsons. As I was dating the older grandson (whom I would later marry), I made up to meet them in Central Park.

I was immediately taken with the care and respect with which the boys attended to their grandfather. He was stricken with arthritis and was hunched over and walked with difficulty. But his face was the face of an angel.

He had snow-white hair, bright blue eyes, a turned-up nose and a smile that could melt anyone’s cool reserve.

His grandson and I became engaged within the year of our initial meeting and subsequently spent a lot of time with Zaidy and his wife, Bubba Dina. Zaidy was always cracking jokes, which would dissolve his family into fits of laughter. The only problem was I didn’t speak Yiddish.  I am American born, and while my parents spoke Yiddish, they used as a secret language between themselves, so I never learned the Mamma loshen.

The jokes got lost when they attempted to translate them for me, but I still warmed to the good vibes that Zaidy’s humor generated.

Bubba Dina was quite different in temperament to Zaidy. She was frail, yet possessed an indomitable spirit. She had lost two of her three children during the war years. Bubba never talked about them, but the hurt was evident in her brown eyes.

Her two grandsons became the focus of her life.

When her son-in-law passed away suddenly at the age of 35, Bubby and Zaidy represented some semblance of stability for the boys, while my future mother-in-law sought work in order to support her family.

My husband’s love of cooking stems from the happy times he spent in the kitchen with Bubby watching and assisting her whenever he could.

My parents doted on Bubby and Zaidy too and we spent many happy times together.

My husband and I waited for children for several years after our marriage. Shortly before my husband and I moved to England for his stint as an Air Force Chaplain, we took a Shabbos walk with Bubby and Zaidy. Bubby told me that she was going to give me silverware that she spirited out of Europe. It would be a service for three, the number 3 representing a segula that I would indeed have a child!

Within a year’s time I was indeed expecting my first “miracle” and Bubby called up and gave me the most wonderful bracha, which I have since passed on to my own children: “The baby should be geruten,” meaning that the ingredients should include everything perfect so that the baby is born completely healthy.

She was a woman of few words, but when she chose to speak, her words were pearls of wisdom.

She never felt any different towards the two young ladies who married her grandsons than she did towards her own grandchildren. Each young couple was one neshama she felt; intertwining her two fingers to demonstrate her belief.

She doted on her great-grandchildren, shtupping them with food as she most likely did her own children, and grandchildren, breathing in their innocent smells, while keeping her innermost thoughts to herself.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/bubby-and-zaidy-an-einikels-remembrance/2009/10/28/

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