Friday, 26 June 2009

Yartzheit of Rabbi Louis Jacobs z'tl

This week we commemorate the Yartzheit of our founding Rabbi, Louis Jacobs of blessed memory. On Sunday, of course, there will be the Memorial Lecture and I hope many of you will be able to join us.


On Shabbat I will be sharing some thoughts on Rabbi Jacobs’ life based on a recently completed dissertation by my colleague Elliot Cosgrove, currently Rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. Dr Cosgrove’s thesis is that if one understands the life of Rabbi Jacobs up to the point of the publication of We Have Reason to Believe one will already know all one needs to know about the way the Jacobs’ Affair plays out.


Dr Cosgrove’s dissertation also contains some wonderful material including an extract from the diary of Shula, written the evening after their first date in December 1943. It’s an extract I have discussed with Louis’ son, Ivor, and daughter, Naomi and I have their blessing to share it here. Not only is it remarkably touching, it’s also an extraordinary insight into what made Rabbi Jacobs such an important figure in Anglo-Jewry, an explanation into the unique character and role of the Synagogue Louis went on to lead and a signpost directing our attention to our way forward.


“During the walk all I can say is I was absolutely enthralled being entertained by my head being filled with magical Chassidic tales and the like. I must have appeared quite ignorant in opposition to his brain, but it did not seem to worry him at all. Suddenly, here was a Yeshiva Bochur, a Rabbi, and I always thought of Rabbis in terms of dull, pious and old in ways, not knowing anything modern, was just the opposite. Together with a tale for every question, joked and seemed like a normal Manchester English young man. He wasn’t pompous; certainly did not parade his religiousness. Talked of literature and poetry and he even liked jazz! (Well, I was not so sure about that). He was refreshing to talk to, and yet he gave me the impression of being the spiritual type, which I admired anyway and seemed to me right away that he was Mr. Right!”


I miss both Louis and Shula, may their memories always serve as a blessing


Shabbat shalom,


Rabbi Jeremy

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