Amongst my writings are four volumes of reminiscences (not including this book). Three of them are periods in my life which I consider are of special significance. The fourth is of miscellaneous events in my life. As with my other writings, I will now give a description of the background and follow-up of these four volumes.
The first volume on reminiscences which I began writing, was on those of my seven years in Liverpool between the years 1971 and 1978, when I was Director of Jewish Studies at the King David High School in Liverpool, a city in the North of England. Since I had to fight hard to obtain my objectives there, I called this volume “My Fight for Yiddishkeit.” Actually, by the time I had published this volume, I had already written the two other volumes on my reminiscences.
When I returned to Israel in 1978, I took with me copies of the various minutes of Committees I had sat on, a whole collection of correspondence and other documents, my teaching programmes, my news-cuttings collection and many other items. For over twenty-five years, all this material remained in my office bureau or stashed away in various cartons in my apartment.
It was about in 2002 that I began to write up my reminiscences on Liverpool. Naturally I extensively used the material in my possession, making numerous quotes from it. After I finished my draft book, due to the pressure of other writings, the draft got put on the side for some time.
Whilst I had been in Liverpool, Cyril Hershon, who was the husband of one of the teachers at the school, had written a thesis on Jewish education in England with special reference to Liverpool. I read through this thesis at that time. When writing my book, I wanted some information which I remembered had been contained in this thesis but there was no copy of it in Israel.
I knew that the Jewish National Library would try and obtain everything connected with Judaica and I suggested to their purchasing department that it would be useful to purchase a copy of this thesis. This they immediately did and I accordingly utilised it.
It was towards the end of 2004 that I finalised this book. Even though about 30 years had elapsed since the events in this book, I decided that as far as possible I would avoid using names of people, in order to avoid any embarrassment to them and their families.
In the book I included photocopies of over 100 documents. In many cases they were just sample pages of various teaching programmes or minutes; to include everything would have made the volume unwieldy. To be consistent with the text, where names appeared in these documents, I blacked them out.
Although I had taken to Israel copies of a lot of archival material, there were a few areas of which I had none or very little material. These included material on our Port Dinorwic seminars, papers I had set each year for the Barmitzvah and Eshet Chayil examinations and a Report I had written on my visit to different Jewish schools in England. Had I had this material, I would surely have included samples of it in my volume. Most of the book dealt with my position as Director of Jewish Studies at the School, but there were also chapters dealing with other activities of mine in Liverpool, such as at the local Synagogues or on various non-school committees.
I realised the importance for historians of this archival material and I accordingly photocopied the various minutes, correspondence and other documents in my possession, sorted them out and bound them into a book of about 170 pages. I deposited copies of this book with the Jewish National Library and the Central Zionist Archives. Since this was for the use of researchers, I did not black out names. I had in the past deposited with the Jewish National Library full copies of the other sample material brought in this book.
The book had 261 pages and in addition to donating copies to the Jewish National Library, the Central Zionist Archives and the Kiryat Arba Public Library, I sent copies to various people and organisations in Liverpool. These included the King David High School, the Liverpool Central Library, my former Headmaster and Rabbi Dr. Malcolm Malits.
I had dedicated this book to the memory of Judge Henry Lachs, who had been the Chairman of the Governors in my time. I wanted to send a copy to his widow Edith but did not know her current address. I therefore sent it to the school with a note to forward it to her.
Soon after, I contacted the school to ask whether they had received the copies I had sent them and if they knew Edith Lachs’ address. They knew she had moved to London but didn’t know her precise address. They later informed me they had ascertained it and forwarded the book to her.
The current Headmistress of the School was interested to receive full copies of all the archival and teaching materials in my possession – nearly 450 pages. I accordingly photocopied it for them, bound it into three books and posted it on to them. I should mention that she had just taken over the headship from John Smartt, who had just retired and who had been a science teacher at the school whilst I was there.
The first letter of acknowledgement of the receipt of the book came from my former Headmaster. After thanking me for sending him a copy, he said that it was nearly a quarter of a century since he had retired “but I continue to take a keen interest in the progress of the Schools. However I always try to be forward-looking, so I have made it a golden rule not to hark back to times gone by.”
A few days later I received a letter from Rabbi Dr. Malits. Whilst I was at the school he had taught boys their Barmitzvahs and had been the Convener of the Religious Advisory Committee of the School. He wrote, “Thank you so much for sending it to me and I look forward with the greatest pleasure and anticipation to imbibing every one of its 261 pages. In complimenting you on such a record and montage of your work in all its details, I have never seen a comparable publication of such detailed, varied and interesting contents.” He added that the percentage of Jews in the school was “probably well under 30%.” In a subsequent telephone to the school, I was told that the numbers were fewer than 25% Jewish.
Rabbi Malits had also written his telephone number on the letter and I accordingly telephoned him to thank him for his letter. He remarked that he was 84 years old and he updated me on many of the events in the Liverpool Jewish Community.
The Liverpool Central Library also has an archival section and they informed me that my book was being placed in their Jewish Archive Collection. In fact when very soon afterwards I looked at their catalogue on the Internet, I saw that it already appeared there.
It had taken a number of months until Edith Lachs actually received the book. She wrote to me that she was naturally happy that it had been dedicated to her late husband Henry and she added, “Reading through it brought back so many memories and I’m pleased that you found Henry so helpful to you and your time in Liverpool so productive. You certainly were faced with interesting challenges.”
I also put this book on my website and received some reactions from some of my former pupils. One of these was Jonathan Waxman. He had prior to this set up his own website called “Heaven’s Register” and in it he had thanked numerous people who had helped him throughout his life. Included in this list was myself. I sent him an e-mail telling him of the existence of my book on the Internet.
He replied to my e-mail towards the end of January 2005, “I have glanced through some of the pages, first impression is to say THANK YOU! You certainly battled sincerely for our education! I must say again, THANK YOU! It was you who inspired and gave so many of us the LOVE of TORAH, sincerely energising our neshomas with a love of Hashem and Torah! And by energizing our lives, you have given us the ability and desire and want to teach others! By your selfless actions in Liverpool you have changed many people and many generations to come!”
About an hour later he sent me a further e-mail, “I am in the middle of reading the lengthy articles on Liverpool – it is unbelievable what you have done for Yiddishkeit – so much! wow! I am truly amazed and thankful for your selfless sincere determination to fight for our Yiddishkeit! Really THANK YOU!”
Jonathan also included a link to my book on his website and informed other former pupils of mine with whom he was in contact.
One of these former pupils was Anthony Levy. His late father had been a medical doctor in Liverpool and now Anthony was one in Stamford Hill. I had in fact been in contact with Anthony several months earlier and he had then told me that he was a Gerrer Chossid and wore a Spodik. He was also the doctor of my brother-in-law who lived in his area. In fact until our conversation, he didn’t know that he was my brother-in-law.
On learning of my book, Anthony sent me an e-mail. He had already told Jonathan that “he was amazed too by the website.” To me Anthony wrote “Haven’t read it all but I do think you underplayed the water bombs in Port Dinorwic – but then from your vantage point you probably didn’t see the water gushing down the staircase to the ground floor.” [I had taken a group of pupils, including Anthony, to a seminar of several days duration in Port Dinorwic. Each night after “lights-out” the pupils had battles with water bombs.]
My reply was, “I didn’t know about the gushing water in Port Dinorwic. YOUR PUNISHMENT FOR WASTING WATER: One hour’s detention next Monday. If there is orchestra practice that day, the detention will be on the following day. Don’t forget to daven Minchah before the detention.” [This had been the procedure for detentions in the school – regarding the orchestra, not Minchah.]
He replied that the water “wasn’t wasted at all” it flowed down with the intention of it going up again - [based on a Jewish religious concept]. “It all goes back up again! So can I get off the detention?” I replied, “Make the water flow up the stairs again and I will then cancel your detention.”
I also received in February 2005 an e-mail from A. Phillips. He (or she) wrote that he was particularly interested in my reference to the Braham Bequest. [This was a bequest of one hundred pounds sterling given to the best senior girl in Liverpool, payable on her marriage.] He added that his mother Annie Levy had been a recipient of this bequest in 1929.
Another e-mail was from Abraham Goldberg which I received at the beginning of May 2005. He wrote that he was “fascinated” by my book and he noted “the various complimentary mentions of my late uncle, Dr. Mortie Goldberg z”l… The history of the Jewish community and its outstanding persona has always fascinated me, and your writings have filled a gap in my knowledge, particularly with regard to the KD [King David] school ‘on the inside’ of which I knew nothing. Thank you!” He also suggested I write “about the Liverpool kehilla in the style of a more formal historical record.” To this last suggestion, I replied that to prepare such a historical record would require “someone living in Liverpool who could look at all the archival material.”
It was in April 2003, after an early draft of the book was ready, that I went on retirement. To mark the occasion, a ceremony to which the educational establishments in Kiryat Arba were invited, was arranged. At this ceremony I gave my valedictory lecture, the subject of which was my experiences in Liverpool and lessons from it that could be applied in Kiryat Arba today.
In this lecture, I began by explaining how and why I went to Liverpool. This was followed by my giving a brief history of the Jewish educational establishment in England, with particular emphasis on Liverpool. I then spoke on the educational programmes and innovations I had made and my various “fights” with the establishment – namely a summary of what appears in a part of my book. Finally I suggested how my experiences and educational courses could be utilised in Kiryat Arba.
In addition to my lecture there were many speakers who paid tributes to my work in the educational establishments in Kiryat Arba over the course of over twenty years. These included the Mayor of Kiryat Arba, the Councillor who held the Local Authority’s Education portfolio, the Director of the Local Education Department, and representatives of the schools and of the kindergartens. At this ceremony I was presented, as is customary with a person retiring, with a clock.
In the three years (1968–1971) before I went to Liverpool, I had been a pioneer in the Military Compound in Hebron with the aim or re-establishing the Jewish community in Hebron. When I arrived in Liverpool and my recollections of the events in the Military Compound were naturally still fresh in my mind, I decided to put them on paper. I then wrote by hand (there were no home computers in those days and I didn’t even have a typewriter) the equivalent of about 30 pages of single-spaced typescript. Unfortunately, at that stage due to the pressure of other work, I had to stop. However, I noted down at that time, the headings of many other events.
This manuscript remained amongst my papers for about thirty years. As I have already stated, until I retired in April 2003, I had worked at the Pedagogic Centre in Kiryat Arba. One of the projects there had been “My Home-Town” which included a study of that period in the Military Compound. In the summer of 2003 there was an evening of reminiscences of that period for the benefit of the residents of Kiryat Arba. This gave me the impetus to continue with the work I had begun 30 years earlier. In addition to my jottings of that period, I had photographs and other material from my wedding which had taken place in this Military Compound. Also, I had news clippings and other archival material in my possession, particularly on my fight for Jewish rights in the Cave of Machpelah.
Utilising all this material, I wrote my book “Three Years in a Military Compound.” In addition to the text, I included a large number of photographs and documents. Since I wrote this book in English, it had limited appeal for most of my fellow pioneers at that period.
Amongst many other incidents described in this book, I wrote how a refrigerator and a washing machine that I had purchased in Jerusalem made its way to Hebron. The manufacturers were not prepared to deliver to Hebron. I therefore had to give my address as one in Jerusalem. For this I had the co-operation of a cousin of mine who lived in Yemin Moshe. To get to her apartment, one had to go up a staircase and then go round a sharp turn. It was hard enough for the trained porters of the manufacturers to do this and it was a nightmare for my three porters who had to then take out these machines from this very same building!
I have related this incident here, since in June 2005, I received an interesting e-mail from a Jose Gonzalez – I don’t know where he lives. In it he wrote, “I stumbled across your story of the washing machine and the refrigerator while searching for the best way to carry our new (very big) refrigerator into our new apartment which of course is up 3 flights of stairs and ends with a sharp turn. Your story put my troubles into perspective. thanks.”
One of my fellow pioneers in Hebron was Chaim Mageni. Tragically he died suddenly a few years ago and his family brought out a book in his memory “Chaim Beyehuda.” A chapter in my book was entitled “From Here and There,” and in this chapter, I gave pen-portraits of certain of the pioneers who came to my mind. One of them was Chaim Mageni and I entitled it “The Happy Man from Boston.” The family asked me if they could incorporate it in their book and I naturally readily agreed and gave them a diskette with this section of the book. It duly appeared in the book with the comment, “His memories of Chaim during this period underlie lifelong aspects of his personality.”
In addition to this book of mine, I organised additional ways to illustrate my life at that period. It was a year or two prior to writing my book, that in order to commemorate “Hebron Day,” I prepared with the assistance of some helpers, a large wall display of the life of my family in the Military Compound. It was headed “The Story of a Family in the Military Compound 5728-5731 [1968-1971].” In this display were many photographs and documents (which included the permission I had to receive from the Military Governor to live in the Military Compound, my wedding invitation and telegrams received at my wedding from prominent Government Ministers). Under each item was a brief description of it. This was displayed in the local Pedagogic Centre and in addition, a number of copies of it were made for the walls of each of the elementary schools in Kiryat Arba.
Another item from this period was a “film” of my wedding in the Military Compound. Today no-one would even think of getting married without a video film being made of the entire ceremony and celebration! The late 1960s were indeed before this era and one had to make do with photographs, and what is more, they were usually in black and white. At least a large number of photographs were taken at weddings in those days. In contrast, when my parents got married in the early 1930s, a sum total of about two photographs were taken!
Actually, at my wedding there was someone present with a cine camera and I know he took a few short shots of it, since he afterwards showed them to me. Unfortunately he died about thirty years ago. Via a number of telephone calls I succeeded in tracking down his sister who was in a Birmingham Jewish Old Age Home in the Midlands (of England). She was nearly 108 at the time – the oldest Jewish woman in Britain – but she was not in a state to come to the telephone! However I got from this Old Age Home the telephone number of her nephew. He could not recollect seeing this cine film. He then made a search but to no avail. I therefore had to make my film without the benefit of the shots from this cine camera.
I first searched my apartment for all my wedding photographs that I could find. I also found a roll of negatives of the photographs taken at the Chuppah. There were a few, of which I did not have prints and these I had developed. In the end I had over 120 photographs from at least four different photographers, a few of the photographs being in colour. I sorted these into order and numbered them. There was also in my apartment original documents such as the Ketuvah, the wedding invitation and telegrams.
A film also requires sound and music. Of these, I had no original material. I thus went through the videos of the weddings of my three daughters who were already married and chose suitable music and the Berachot made at their weddings. [It was pointed out in my film that the sounds and music were not authentic.]
I asked someone in Kiryat Arba to read the Ketuvah and it was recorded using a cassette recorder. Into a computer I scanned all the photographs and documents which I had assembled. I was then ready to prepare the film.
This was done with the great assistance of one of my son-in-laws. He is an expert on computers and also had a program for the making of films.
On a Wednesday in the autumn of 2003, I went with all the necessary materials to his apartment so that we could work on this film. I began by staying up to the wee hours of Thursday morning going through all the photographs I had scanned and cropping them to the right size.
On the Thursday morning we started working together. There were still some sounds to record, such as the reading aloud of the wedding invitation, reading of the telegrams, the saying of “Harei At…” We thus begun our work by my daughter, son-in-law and myself making these recordings. We then worked on putting the photographs on the computer, one after another, with a suitable “effect” to go from one picture to the next. Music and the sound effects were then added at the appropriate places. All this took about a day to accomplish.
When we had done all this, we had a film of duration seven and a half minutes. This was then transferred to both a video cassette and to a CD-Rom. It is very easy to make extra copies and because it is digital, there is no loss in quality when making such copies.
So far, I have shown this film to a lot of people, especially those who were present at the wedding in 1969 and I have found it to be very popular. It is more than just a film of my wedding. It is a historical document of a wedding in the Military Compound. This is a building which a few years ago was blown up by the Israeli army.
In April 2005, Shalom Goldman, who was present at the wedding, and who now lives in America visited Israel and I showed him the film. A son of the late Rabbi Nisan Zaks who read the Ketuvah at my wedding, now lives in New York and this Rabbi appears in a large number of the photographs. Shalom therefore asked me to make a copy of the film for Rabbi Zaks’ son, which I of course did.
Let me now return to my school days, which people often describe as “the happiest days of one’s life.” Between the years 1953 and 1960, I was at school at Carmel College in England, an Orthodox Jewish residential school established for Jewish boys by Rabbi Kopul Rosen. In 1997, without warning the school suddenly closed. Even the Rosen family, who were then no longer formally connected with the school, were taken by shock and surprise by this sudden closure.
It was in 2003, that I decided that in order that the history of this school should not be forgotten, I would write a book on my reminiscences as a pupil. Unlike my other books on reminiscences, here I had almost no original material. This was due to the long period that had elapsed since I had been a pupil there. My sole original material was my first school report, my public examination papers and some science textbooks. In addition I had some material which had been brought out after I had left, by the Old Carmeli Association.
Thus virtually the entire book had to be written from memory. It is amazing that once one starts writing, how much comes back to one. I was able to write over one hundred pages on my reminiscences. Towards the end of the book, I included a chapter on my connection with the school and the Old Carmelis from the time I left the school in the summer of 1960 until today. I ended the book on my “Reflections” on the school nearly half a century after I had left.
To add further interest, I incorporated snippets of interesting information which I obtained from the Internet. These included that the ownership of the swans on the Thames is shared by the Queen and the Vinters’ and Dyers Companies (this River runs by the school and there are swans there), and that as long as there are monkeys in Gibraltar, the Colony will remain British (one Purim some pupils from Gibraltar dressed up as these monkeys!)
I immediately put the entire book on my website. Several months later I made a few hard copies of this book which I donated to some libraries.
The alumni of Carmel College have set up a website on the Internet with a “Message Board” and Old Carmelis can enter their messages. One is also able to download photographs onto the school’s website. Up to date there are numerous photographs which have been downloaded and they are arranged on the basis of different decades. On 1 March 2004, I entered on the “Message Board” that I had written a book on my reminiscences at the school and where it could be found on the Internet. Three days later, Jeremy Rosen, the eldest son of Rabbi Kopul Rosen, and who was in my class at Carmel replied, “Thank you Chaim for making your memories accessible to us all.”
However, chronologically the first response came from Avraham Reiss. He was living in Israel and in addition to him being at Carmel with me, he would also sometimes came to visit the Military Compound when I was there. He was present at my Aufruf [Shabbat before a wedding] and he spoke at the meal. On my book he commented, “I’m in the middle of reading your book. FASCINATING! Thanks for taking the time to document things so well and in such detail.”
He also pointed out rather an amusing misprint. I had stated that the train taking the pupils to Carmel which left from Paddington station reminded me of Agatha Christie’s book “4.50 from Paddington” in which a murder took place. [Agatha Christie at the time had a house in Wallingford and presumably travelled there by train from Paddington.] I had then intended continuing, “Fortunately this did not occur on the Carmel train.” However the word “not” had accidentally been left out! This was very much like the “Wicked Bible” which said “Thou shall commit adultery.” The printer was fined three hundred pounds. I wasn’t fined but the correction was then made pronto!
A few days later he again wrote to me saying, “I finished your book in a marathon reading on Ta’anit Esther [the day before Purim]. Really exceptional reading! Again, well done! I’ll probably return and read your book a number of times in the future.” He then pointed out an error of fact regarding the ceremony on the opening of the Wix Sanatorium at Carmel. However, even on further reflection, I think what I had written is correct.
On 18 March I received a message from Paul Bookey. I personally didn’t remember this name. However on studying the Old Carmeli “Occupational Directory” of 1991, I saw that he had been a pupil between 1973 -1977. So there is no wonder I didn’t know him! Paul wrote, “Chaim, I just printed your book and I look forward to reading it!!!! Thank you for such a gift. From reading a little, it certainly seems a gem. I cannot wait to go home!!!!!”
A few days later I received an e-mail from David Sheldon. He began, “I have just come across your excellent work on Carmel College and, although I haven’t yet had time to read it all (I am supposed to be working!) I read enough to make me feel quite sad and happy at the same time. I’m sure you know what I mean.” He said that he had joined the school the same time as me, but he couldn’t remember me. However I think that I vaguely remember him.
One of the Old Carmelis is Malcolm Shifrin. He was in fact one of the first pupils at the school when it opened. Whilst I was at the school, he came to reorganise the library and he made a splendid job of it. In addition, he began an archive under the name “Carmelismus.” He appeared with regularity in my book.
In his e-mail he commented that he was “glad the library made such an impact on you! I think it wasn’t far off one of the best school libraries at around that time.” I had written in my book that he had an obsession for silence in the library. He corrected me that it was only in one of the rooms that one couldn’t talk.
He commented quite rightly, “One knows absolutely that if Kopul had still been alive, so would Carmel.” As regards what happened to Carmelismus, he wrote, “Alas, I left Carmelismus behind when I left. Who would have known?”
I sent my reply to him via “Messages” since it also contained material for all Old Carmelis. In it I wrote, “In order that Carmel College should not be forgotten, I would like to put forward two suggestions. 1. Old Carmelis from the various periods of the school’s history write, as I did, an account of their reminiscences… 2. A history of Carmel College be written. I would suggest it be divided into 4 parts corresponding to the 4 Headmasters (or Principals). Since it is easy to suggest that others (but not oneself!) do the work, I am prepared to volunteer to do the era of Rabbi Kopul Rosen. Let me hear your views and that of other Old Carmelis to these two suggestions.”
Shifrin immediately replied, “I think the idea of a history of Carmel is not only a good idea but a very important one.” He added that he himself would be unable to contribute any text since his time was taken up with his research on the Victorian Turkish bath. He did however offer to proof read any text written and compile an index and also answer any factual questions which may arise. He concluded his letter, “It would be good to hear what others have to say. Perhaps a letter to the JC [Jewish Chronicle].”
Another Old Carmeli to reply to my suggestion was Jeff Serlin. In his “Message” he wrote, “I think this is an excellent idea. If it does take off, I have in storage all of the Carmel archives, which include many hundreds of photographs, newspaper clippings, articles, films, school magazines and a whole host of other memorabilia dating from Greenham days through to the last days at Mongewell.”
From the book “Memories of Kopul Rosen” and from other sources, I knew that there was other material which Jeff did not specifically refer to. I accordingly asked him, “Do you have amongst your Carmel Archives the Minutes of Governors’ meetings, financial statements, Rabbi Rosen’s diary, Shif’s ‘Carmelismus’ material, details of the ‘fight’ between Rabbi Rosen and the Governors 1951-1953, letters sent by the School secretary to Parents, etc, etc.”
In reply Jeff wrote, “There is certainly a lot of correspondence and papers, however I have not looked through all of it. Jeremy [Rosen] probably has a better idea of what is in the files, but one thing I did come across were many letters addressed to Kopul Rosen in response to his requests for loans and donations to start Carmel – most of them refusals.” He concluded that he was not a man to give up easily and Rabbi Rosen knew how to answer the evasive replies from potential donors.
I sent a hard copy of the book to Jeremy Rosen to be put in the Carmel Archives. He replied, “Have been away over the Summer and just got back to read your memoirs of Carmel. What a supreme memory for detail, you always did have, must be the genes of your accountant father! Thank you so much.”
In July 2005 I received a telephone call from Uri Baruch, who lives in Kochav Yair. He informed me that his wife is related to the Sawdaye family from Basra Iraq and he had seen the name Sawdaye in my book on the Internet on Carmel College. He asked whether I had his address. The most I could then give him was the address of Reuben Sawdaye in Baltimore, which appeared in the Carmel “Occupational Directory” of 1991. I also promised him that should I find a more up to date address I would let him know.
That day I wrote on the “Carmel Message Board” the following message: “I received a telephone call today from someone in Israel who had seen my book on Carmel on the Internet. He told me that his wife is related to Sawdaye from Iraq and she wants to trace her family. Has anyone the current address of Reuben Sawdaye who was a pupil in Carmel during the 1950s?”
In addition I also decided to make a search for his current address on the Internet. Sadly I discovered that he had died in July 1999 at the young age of 58, leaving a widow and two sons. I telephoned Uri Baruch to inform him of this and before I had even finished my message to him, he told me that he had also already discovered this fact on the Internet.
Towards the end of September 2005, I received the following message on the “Carmel Message Board” from Larry D. Becker: “Dr Reuben Sawdaye passed away after suffering a massive heart attack on July 11, 1999. At the time of his death Dr. Sawdaye was employed by the Headquarters United States Army Corps Engineers, in Washington DC as the senior technical member for Health & Safety in the Environmental Restoration Branch. Dr. Sawdaye was my best friend and often spoke to me of his times in Iraq and Egypt. I regret that after my retirement, I have not kept in touch with his wife Esty or his two sons Ashley and Amil all who live in Maryland. I enjoyed your book and am sure that Esty would like a copy.” In thanking Larry for this message, I informed him that I had already discovered the sad news and telling him where Reuben’s widow could find my book in its entirety on the Internet.
A further name of a then pupil which appeared in this book of mine was that of Mordell Klein. It was in February 2006 that I received an e-mail from Martin Barnett, who was an Instructor in a Professional Baking Program at a University in Nanaimo in Canada. He wrote: “I was searching for Mordell Klein. I found reference to him in your writings. Can you tell me if this is the same Mordell who was at Cambridge (UK) in 1963/4. He was my Bar-mitzva tutor, and I would like to contact him, if you have an email address. Thank you for taking tome (sic) out of your busy schedule.”
In reply I wrote: “The Mordell Klein you mention is almost certainly the one who was at Cambridge. I have not been in any contact with him for about 35 years and so I don't know his e-mail. However I will put a request on the old Carmeli message board asking for such information and advise you if I receive any results. I was happy to read that you enjoyed my book.” Martin immediately replied to me: “Thank You, It's been 42 years since I saw him! In the days when my father would shudder if my hair even touched my ears, Mordell's was down his back, and worshipped by my Dad! Wonder if we'll find him!”
It was just one day later that I received a reply from Jeremy Rosen giving me Mordell’s e-mail and telephone number. He also wrote that Mordell was “now living in Jerusalem though currently I believe he is in the Far East somewhere.” I passed this message on to Martin Barnett.
In addition to pupils’ names which appeared in my book, there were also the names of many members of the then teaching staff. One of them was Mr. Jack Epstein. Although I had not been in any contact with him, a cousin of mine Monty Richardson was, and he would show him the various educational and research booklets I produced for the teaching of Torah studies.
It was also in February 2006 that I received an e-mail from Martin Lewis who lives in the United States. He wrote: “I have just discovered your memoir of times at Carmel College on the net. I see a reference to a "Mr. Epstein." I wonder if by chance this was a Carmel College teacher by the name of Jack Epstein - son of the theologist Dr. Isadore Epstein. I know he was a teacher at Carmel in the 60’s. But I suspect he was too young to have been teaching there in the 50’s. Jack Epstein was a cousin of mine who just passed on. So I was looking to see if there were any references to him - and up popped your fascinating piece. I look forward to any recollections you may have of a teacher of that name.”
I replied that indeed we were talking about the same Mr. Epstein. (I should mention that an announcement of his death then appeared in the “Jewish Chronicle.”) Martin replied that he would tell his parents who lived in London about my book on Carmel on the Internet.
Within just a few days I received an e-mail from Martin’s parents: “We are Martin Lewis’s parents, and Martin forwarded us your Web Site which I read with great interest, especially since Jack Epstein was my cousin and I wanted to read more of his life at Carmel. The account of Jewish boarding-school life in particular came over very well and I read on until I arrived at your own Latter Days there, when I arrived at the sad event of Koppul Rosen’s untimely passing, and your visit to his home to pay your respects and comfort the mourners. And there I read that you and your mother were Monty Richardson’s passengers on that visit. And that you were cousins! Truly the world is a small place - especially the Jewish world...... My husband Louis and I are old friends of Monty and see each other very frequently and even more frequently speak on the ’phone. We are very fond of him, and he and Louis argue regularly, just like brothers! They used to meet to walk over Hampstead Heath most Sunday mornings, no doubt arguing as they went...We are all members of South Hampstead Shul, as was Jack Epstein and his wife Miriam.” The next time I spoke to Monty Richardson, I mentioned this to him.
It was reported in the “Jewish Chronicle” in September 2005 that he Exilarch Foundation, who had purchased Carmel College in 1997, had tried to revive it as a Jewish centre, but without success. They therefore decided to sell it, using an estate agent. A full page colour advertisement of the Carmel campus appeared that month in the “Jewish Chronicle” and by November 2005 it had been sold to a property developer for over ten million pounds sterling.
Naturally there were Old Carmelis who were upset that instead of a Jewish school, there would be houses on the site. Several messages on this score appeared on the “Carmel Message Board.” Amongst them was one from Paul Bookey who wrote: “… it is sickening to see that the Anglo Jewish community isn’t prepared to come to Carmels rescue. Would the non-Jewish establishment bail out Millfield, Harrow, Eton and many other of our finest schools. I feel that they would, and why I ask, wouldn’t the Anglo Jewish community do likewise? …. The thought of some developer coming in and building homes is a travesty and insult to Kopul Rosens dream. However, I really don’t believe that the Anglo-Jewish community have what it takes and that is the tragic truth.”
In view of these events, I concluded that this was the last opportunity for Shuls whose worshippers include Old Carmelis to obtain the Carmel Sifrei Torah. I realized that we first had to make an inventory of the Carmel Sifrei Torah. I noted down my own personal recollections and that of my brother’s, who is also an Old Carmeli and in March 2006 I wrote on the “Carmel Message Board” asking for the assistance of other Old Carmelis in this matter. Receiving no reply to my questions (apart from a suggestion from Jeremy Rosen), I, two months later, again put it on the Message Board. Apart from a note of encouragement from Paul Bookey, to my great disappointment, I received no response. Any opportunity we may have had for obtaining any of these Sifrei Torah has very likely now been lost.
Other volumes of my reminiscences had included photocopies of many original documents and I felt that I should try and do likewise with my Carmel reminiscences. However, half a century has now passed since I was in Carmel and I therefore have only a few original documents. To supplement them, I looked on the “Jewish Chronicle” Internet site to locate news items concerning Carmel which then appeared in the paper. I then went to the “Central Zionist Archives” in Jerusalem, looked up these articles in the appropriate edition of the paper and had photocopies made. In addition, I had since recollected a few further events which occurred during my stay in Carmel and I incorporated them into the revised edition of my reminiscences which were brought out in 2006.
The first three of volumes of my autobiography deal with specific periods of my life. There are however other events in my life which “fall between the cracks”. A few of these events, such as my two years pioneering in Bet Hadassah in Hebron, and my reminiscences of the Six Day War were written as an appendix to the volume “Three Years in a Military Compound”. Other events such as my studying at London University were originally rather artificially included in this volume of my autobiography.
I therefore decided in 2011 to write a further volume of my autobiography which I entitled “Miscellaneous Jottings”. The events stated above were transferred to this volume. I also recorded chapters which include reminiscing on my taking part three times in the “Blessing of the Creator of the Sun”, a ceremony which occurs only once every 28 years; on my house in Edgware where I spent the first 23 years of my life; on my Primary School in Edgware; problems with the location of my polling booth. After writing about the Zielinski family who perished in the Holocaust, I had added genealogical information on the families of my other three grandparents. I transferred this added information to the “Miscellaneous Jottings” volume. I also had numerous jottings which were very short and these were put together in a chapter entitled “Short Jottings”.
As with the other volumes of my autobiography, I also incorporated photographs and documents into this volume.
Finally, for better order, I numbered the volume “Miscellaneous Jottings” as volume 4 of my autobiography and renumbered the volume “Put it on Paper!” as volume 5.