Even though I left Carmel towards the end of July 1960, my connection with the school did not terminate then. Almost up to today, there has been an on and off contact of some sort.
It was during August of that year that I received a letter from Mr. Alexander, congratulating me on my wonderful result in Physics, but with no further details. I had not yet received the results list from the school. Possibly I then telephoned them. However, within a few days, I received the pass list from the school which said that I had obtained a distinction in Physics and had passed Chemistry.
On the basis of this I put in an appeal for reconsideration to King’s College and Imperial College. King’s College asked me to send them my marks in these two exams. I immediately wrote a letter to Mr. Stamler marking the envelope “urgent,” asking him to send my marks to King’s College. He immediately complied and also sent me a copy. I saw that there were less than a handful of marks between what I got in Physics to what I obtained in Chemistry.
King’s College invited me for an interview with the Professor of Physics. Following such interviews, prospective students would meet with the sub-dean and he would ask questions on such things as one’s interests and write them down as “interview notes.” The sub-dean was on holiday and so I met with his secretary. A few days later, I was invited for an interview with the Professor of Chemistry. Almost the entire interview was spent on him talking about the lectures I would miss on winter Friday afternoons! King’s College offered me a place in their Joint Honours Degree programme for Chemistry and Physics, which I accepted.
Imperial College, without an interview offered me a place in their Chemical Engineering Degree department but I turned it down.
Two of my classmates from Carmel were going to Queen Elizabeth College and, after being accepted at King’s College, which was only two weeks before the beginning of term, I telephoned one of them to say that I would not be joining them.
After finishing my part 1 exams for my degree in the summer of 1961, I went down to Carmel for a Shabbat. Rabbi Rosen suggested that when I finished my degree I should return and be a teacher there.
A few weeks later, I went to the Annual Speech Day. Rabbi Rosen ended the proceedings by telling the audience only to watch worthwhile television programmes during the holidays. He got a laugh for that because on that evening he was due to speak on television about the Eichmann trial. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get back home in time for that programme.
Earlier that year my brother who had entered for the Carmel scholarship, was successful and he began that autumn. He received the school number of 782, which was an anagram of my school number 278. My mother and I took him to the school and we met with Rabbi Rosen. He made him feel at home saying that I was happy at Carmel and so will he be. Sadly this was the last time I saw Rabbi Rosen.
It was a few weeks later that I heard a “mi sheberach” being made for Rabbi Rosen in my Shul in Edgware and when I asked, I was told he was seriously ill. I wrote him a letter and received a personal letter back from him.
A few months later, the Old Carmelis received a letter saying that as a result of Rabbi Rosen’s serious illness, a meeting would take place at Hillel House. A large number of Old Boys turned up and Mr. Stamler briefed us on the situation. He said that Rabbi Rosen would like to meet all the Old Boys and we should visit Carmel for this purpose. Mr. Stamler also suggested that the Old Boys raise money for a building in the school and various suggestions were put forward as to which building to raise funds for. It was also agreed that a board be put up in the school and for a minimum of three guineas, the name of the Old Carmeli would be inscribed on it. This last suggestion was implemented.
I wanted very much to go along to Carmel to visit Rabbi Rosen, but my university programme was occupied on Fridays and it was the winter months. (I was already missing the afternoon lectures on Friday.) When the days got a bit longer, I wrote a letter to Rabbi Rosen suggesting a Shabbat that I would like to visit. Mr. Stamler replied that Rabbi Rosen had pneumonia and I should put off my visit until it passed over.
It was a few weeks later that I was on the way home from University one Thursday evening, that I was met by some Old Boys in a car who informed me that Rabbi Rosen had died that morning at ten o’clock. They told me that the funeral would be in Carmel the next morning at eleven o’clock and whether I wanted a lift to the funeral. I answered in the affirmative and I was told to be at Golders Green station at, (I think it was), nine o’clock.
Had I realised that his passing away could be so speedily - we had been told about a year - I would have given up one Friday of University studies to visit him. I was always sorry that I had not done so. Now, ironically, I was giving up a Friday to go to his funeral.
I arrived at Golders Green station and waited for the lift. Whilst waiting Professor Cyril Domb came along and asked whether we were waiting for Carmel College. The lift came and after getting through the traffic jams in London, we went on to Carmel where we arrived at about a quarter to eleven.
There was a large turnout of Old Carmelis and numerous other Rabbis and other friends. The non-Jewish masters were in their caps and gowns standing by the side. Since there was no cemetery there, the ground had to be first consecrated and we walked around the area designated to be the grave, seven times reciting a Psalm. The service was conducted by Dr. Tobias and he first announced that the burial was conditional. If for some reason the school was sold or any other reason, the body could be moved elsewhere. This condition was with the agreement of the widow, the sons and the brother. The only person to speak at the funeral was Mr. Stamler. Following the funeral, we went to the Rosen house to comfort the mourners and then we hurried back to London, since was a Friday in the month of March.
A cousin of mine, Monty Richardson, knew the family, I think especially Henry Shaw the brother, and he wanted to make a shiva visit. It was on the Monday, Ta’anit Esther, that Monty, his wife, my mother and I all went together in Monty’s car to Carmel. After the Shiva visit, we stayed in Carmel for the Megillah, which was read by Mr. Alexander, and then we returned home.
That summer I spent a Shabbat in Carmel. The following year, I took my finals and a few days after finishing, I went for Shabbat to Carmel. I had hoped I would have a nice few days rest in the country after the strain of the final exams, especially after three consecutive days of six hour practical exams. From the time I got there it rained without stop and this made me feel very miserable and as a consequence, cut short my visit.
Again the following year (1964), I went for Shabbat and Tisha B’Av which was on the Sunday. Whilst I was there, Mr. Stamler asked me whether I had received an invitation for the consecration of the Synagogue which was to take place that Speech Day. I answered that I hadn’t and he then gave me one.
A few weeks later was Speech Day. The consecration of the Synagogue took place in the morning. Since the school could by no means accommodate all the guests, a large marquee with closed circuit television had been erected, in which I sat. The guest speaker at this consecration was the Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie. During the service there was Reading of the Torah, at which the Chief Rabbi was given an aliyah. He affixed a Mezuzah on the Shul door, after Mr. Stamler had said that it would not just be a Shul, but a Bet Hamidrash which required a Mezuzah.
This Shul had a unique design. When the roof beams which were numerous pieces of wood stuck together, arrived, there was a big label on them saying they were the biggest beams in Europe! The Aron Hakodesh had been donated by the architect. There were unique stained glass windows which had been made in the school by an artist on sabbatical, assisted by pupils in the school. In the front windows, they represented the days of creation and in the back windows the twelve “minor prophets.”
Following this consecration, there was a buffet lunch in a marquee erected on the front quadrangle. Following this there was the Speech Day ceremony in yet another marquee. The day before had been Rabbi Rosen’s youngest son’s Barmitzvah and on the Sunday, there was a reception in a marquee by the Rosen family house. The firm putting up marquees certainly did good business that day!
The following year there was the stone consecration on Rabbi Rosen’s grave which I attended. I understand that there had been discussions on whether to put a room over the grave or a stone. In the end a stone of an unusual design was erected with an inscription from the Psalms, which I was told was suggested by Mr. Epstein. I had as usual planned to go to Carmel for a Shabbat that summer, when at the last moment Mr. Stamler had to cancel my visit, since there were restrictions on entering and leaving due to the external examinations. It was the following year, as soon as I had received my doctorate that I went to Israel. In October that year, the Old Carmeli Association, sent out a newsletter, which included congratulations on my doctorate.
It was about 1970 that I received an invitation to attend a meeting of Old Carmelis in Israel, which was held at a hotel in Jerusalem, owned by a father of an Old Carmeli. David Saville was in the Chair and he said that he had written to Mr. Stamler for material for this meeting and he had been sent the latest film which had been made of the school.
The meeting began with the playing of the record of Rabbi Rosen’s talk made just a few months before he died. He began by saying that Shifrin had suggested he makes this recording for the benefit of the Old Boys who could not attend the meeting which had been called at Hillel House. I am certain that the main reason for Shifrin suggesting the making of such a recording, was obvious to Rabbi Rosen.
The film was shown and the book edited by Cyril Domb called “Memories of Kopul Rosen” was then put on sale.
Towards the end of the following year, I returned to England to take up the position as “Director of Jewish Studies” at the King David High School in Liverpool and where I remained for nearly seven years.
I considered it an important part of my work to visit other Jewish schools in the country in order to study and learn from their methods. The first school I chose to visit was Carmel College. To get there, I took a train from Liverpool to Oxford and then a bus to Wallingford. I then hailed a taxi to reach Carmel College. I asked if Percy Messenger, who had been a local taxi driver in my day, was still in business but they told me he had retired.
When I reached Carmel, I was directed to the upper story of what was originally the Rosen family house and was then known as Founder’s House. This was to be my living quarters for the few days, whilst I was there. The bottom story of this house had been turned into a Beth Hamidrash and the upper story was to serve for visitors, such as myself. I had heard a rumour that a Mikva had been built in the garage of this house and so I used the opportunity to investigate. Indeed there was a Mikva there.
I first had a short meeting with Rabbi Jeremy Rosen who had become Headmaster after Mr. Stamler had left and he suggested I go and meet Rabbi Baruch Epstein who was developing teaching methods. He was based in the buildings built by Charles Wolfson, originally planned to serve as a separate girls school, but when this did not materialise, they were used for the junior part of the school. Rabbi Epstein had had a very varied career all over the world - at one stage he had been head of the Beth Din in Peru. He showed me the various educational aids he had developed. These included two “programmed learning” texts, dealing with Sukkah and Arba’at Haminim. Those days was before the era of home computers and the “programmes” were in a booklet form. One was supplied with information, and one then answered the questions, uncovered the answers, and then depending on one’s answers moved forwards or backwards.
Some of his materials were directed towards teaching the Hebrew language. In one of his aids he had a rectangular board where one had to fit pieces in the right places. One could check one’s accuracy afterwards by turning the board over and seeing if a number of lines drawn at different angles were straight. He told me that he was also planning some games and he would ask an authority in mathematics to look into whether the games were mathematically feasible.
Another teacher I met was Mr. Mendel Bloch. When I was a pupil in the school, he was a teacher at the Prep School. He had now aged considerably and was obviously very close to retirement. I sat in on one of his lessons which I really enjoyed. He would hold the interest of the pupils by continually putting in jokes and one could often learn something from these jokes.
Rabbi Berel Cohen had been brought to the School to direct a Torah stream and he would give Gemara lessons in the Beth Hamidrash. I asked him if any girls learned Gemara and he happily answered me in the negative!
Instead of the one uniform Shacharit service, which had been in operation when I had been a pupil there, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen had introduced a number of different services to make every pupil feel comfortable. There was the service with the abbreviated pesukei dezimrah (as in my day), the full service, a beginners’ service and a Sepharadi service. Since I was only there for two mornings, I could only observe two of them. One day I went to the full service which was held in one of the classrooms. This was supervised by Rabbi Cohen who gave a short shiur after the service. On the second day I went to the abbreviated service held in the school Synagogue.
Whilst I was in the School, I had the opportunity to meet teachers who had been in the school whilst I was a pupil. I made a few telephone calls to my school in Liverpool to check that everything was in order and I asked Mr. Evans, who I knew from my days in Carmel, how I could pay for the telephone call. He answered laughingly that they will take it off your next pay cheque. Since I didn’t think they would give me a pay cheque, I found a different method to pay.
I also made a visit to the dormitories. In one case, there were about 6 pupils in the room and they complained to me that it was crowded. When I had been a pupil, I had also at one time slept in that room, but then there were about 20 pupils in it!
In 1977, the Old Carmelis brought out a year book. This included a report from the Headmaster, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, some articles on Dr. Friedmann, the Head teacher of History, who had recently passed away, and an Old Carmeli sports report. The majority of this book was taken up with a list of the Old Carmeli members and an Occupational Directory.
I returned to Israel in the summer of 1978. Periodically I would continue to receive material from the Old Boys which included two updated Occupational Directories which were brought out in 1987 and 1991 and newsletters in 1986 and 1993.
To mark 40 years of Carmel College, the Old Carmeli Association in 1988, decided to bring out a book. Old Boys and former masters were invited to contribute to this book which was entitled “Reflections 1948-1988.” The contributions were edited and in the words of the Chairman “the editing process has been unashamedly autocratic.”
There were a fair number of contributors, who included Mrs. Bella Censor (Rosen), Rabbi Jeremy Rosen (who was then a past Headmaster), Mr. Schmidt, Dr. Tobias and a number of Old Boys, including myself, who had been at Carmel during a whole variety of periods. Also included were old photographs, which seem to be mainly from the years that I was at the school and the first prospectus issued by the school in 1948. Over half this book was advertisements from a whole variety of people “wishing the school success”; somehow or other, the publication of this book had to financed!
At the beginning of 1997, the Old Carmelis in Israel were invited to a meeting at “Yakar” in Jerusalem to commemorate the thirty-fifth Yahrzeit of Rabbi Rosen. Quite a number of Old Boys attended and I met number of my former colleagues that evening. Mrs. Censor (Rosen), three of her children - Jeremy was unable to get a flight to Israel - and Mr. Alexander were also there. Little did we know the bombshell that would soon hit all of us, including the Rosen family.
It was just a few weeks later that it was announced that the Governors had decided to close Carmel College. At first it was planned to sell the buildings and land to a property developer.
I wrote to the headmaster, Mr. Skelker expressing my shock at this closure. At the time, I suggested that the Sifrei Torah at Carmel be transferred to Shuls in Israel where Old Carmelis were active. He replied that the Governors were sympathetic to this idea.
However soon after, the Exilarch Foundation of Naim Dangoor offered a considerably larger sum for Carmel and it was accordingly sold to them. I then wrote to this Foundation. who answered that at the time none of the contents of the School were being passed on. I thus waited a further two years and then wrote again. They replied that their “Articles of Association” did not permit them to give away these Sifrei Torah but should I be interested in purchasing any, I should let them know.
I was very disappointed with this answer. The Sifrei Torah were donated to Carmel for the use of the Carmel pupils, and one should therefore try and find a way to honour the spirit of the donors. I thought of the possibility that if one could not give them away, what about a “long-term loan”?
I contacted Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, and he thought like me on this matter, but he had added that we are in England and bound by English law. He then put out the suggestion what might happen if one of the donors wanted the Sefer Torah they had donated to be transferred to a Shul of their choice.
Whilst I was in Carmel, the Gletzer family had donated a Sefer Torah to Carmel. I contacted Issy Gletzer, who had learned with me in Carmel and now lived in Jerusalem. He then wrote to the Exilarch Foundation pointing out that his family had loaned the Sefer Torah to the School and now that it had closed, he or his representative would be collecting it to put in a Shul of his choice. I later heard from him that nothing came as a result of his letter.
Rabbi Rosen had been buried conditionally in the grounds of Carmel. Now that Carmel had closed, his body was brought to Israel and buried on the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem. The Old Carmelis in Israel, were invited to the stone consecration ceremony after the burial. I arranged to meet another Old Carmeli in Jerusalem and he would take me to the Mount of Olives Cemetery by car. Unfortunately, I was unwell that day and could not attend.
In order to keep alive the memories of Carmel College and its Founder, Rabbi Kopul Rosen, both YAKAR and the Old Carmelis have opened websites:
YAKAR - http://www.yakar.org.uk/kr.html
OLD CARMELIS - http://www.carmelcollege.org.uk/aboutus.html
YAKAR is also building up an archives and repository and asks for memoirs, documentation and photographs on all aspects of Carmel College and Rabbi Kopul Rosen.