Page 69 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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Miss Lucy Cohen, a cousin of that noble and pious, one might
say, saintly man. Claude Montefiore was the offspring of two of
the foremost Jewish families in Britain — the Montefiores and
the Goldsmids. Sir Moses Montefiore was his great uncle and
his grandmother had been a Rothschild. Claude was a millionaire,
but his life was devoted to religious learning, to the study of
Judaism, and perhaps equally so to the teachings of Christianity.
He wrote numerous books, some scholarly, especially on the
Synoptic Gospels. He was the founder of Liberal Judaism in
England, which marked a decisive wrench even from the Reformed
Jewish Congregation, of which he had been a leading member,
causing much bitter controversy. His wealth, his social position
his piety, his charity, his love of learning, his high sense of duty,
gave him a unique position in Anglo-Jewry. At Oxford he was
a pupil of the great and influential Professor Jowett who, besides
being a Greek scholar, was a devout Christian. Claude, brought
up in a religious Jewish atmosphere, clung firmly to certain fun-
damentals in Judaism with his characteristic piety. But the
influence of Jowett struck roots. While Claude’s Jewish knowledge
and learning were largely acquired from translations, his Christian
theology came from direct original sources, and therefore was
affected by outside religious ideas, not only theoretically but also
through intimate contact. He evolved a Jewish theology of his
own, which might have remained academic but for his wealth,
social influence and personal saintliness. He had the wherewithal
to translate his Liberal Judaism into a congregation.
In the recollections, we have a life-like portrait of the noble
and deeply religious man, the highly ethical and fully conscious
Jew, ever ready to advance Jewish learning of all kinds and Jewish
causes everywhere, barring Zionism or Jewish nationalism, both
of which he contemplated with horror. The portrait is drawn by
Miss Lucy Cohen, with reverence and admiration, but also with
frankness showing a decided narrowness, insularity and naivete,
which accompanied the rare nobility of his character. Among
the many interesting things in the volume is Claude Montefiore’s
own account of his encounter with Herzl, and how he had to steel
himself not to fall under the spell of the Zionist leader.
David Eder
published by Victor Gollancz, who in recent years
has rendered invaluable service by publishing numerous books
relating to Jews and Palestine, is not the biography of this remark-
able man. I t is a composite production, containing important
contributions from several writers, dealing with the life and work
of a rare good Jew, a leading medical man, a psycho-analyst, a
man of letters and an ardent Zionist. A cousin of Israel Zangwill,
Dr. Eder was, of course, not remote from Jewish life, but in his