Friday, 10 February 2012

Write it down, read it and do something about it

On Wednesday evening I had the privilege of attending a reception to celebrate the opening of the stunning new premises of the Weiner Library in Russell Square. It was a particular pleasure since the architect on the project was none other than our member Barbara Weiss. The Library’s director spoke of the vision of its founder, Alfred Weiner, who in 1933 fled Germany for Amsterdam. Weiner dedicated the rest of his life to collecting and disseminating information about Nazi Germany. Weiner was inspired by the notion that truth would defeat forces of wickedness. I think the phrase Ben Barkow used in Weiner’s name was, ‘the truth will out.’


It’s humbling to realise both quite how many had to perish before the Nazi machine could be brought low and also how often we humans slip back into murderous atrocity. But it is inspiring to know that from the very first moments of Nazi power someone cared about disseminating truth. We must continue to care.


Caring for the truth, in the face of powerful deceit is, of course, a very New London thing to do. Solomon Schechter observed it’s always easier to accept comfortable lies than fight for uncomfortable truths, but, he went on to note, since the time of Abraham Jews have always believed in smashing the idols of comfortable deceit. We must continue to bash away. There is still much too much deceit around; some dressed up in the garb of religion, some verging on genocidal. Without a commitment to truth we have no weapon to oppose such deceit. The Library is lovely, and I love the space which now provides the home for New London Synagogue, but a beautiful home is not enough. We need to engage personally with our truths, study them and act as if our lives depend on them, for indeed they do.


More information on the Weiner Library is at

For pictures of the new building, see and click projects, community & public


Shabbat shalom

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