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Frederic David Mocatta (1828-1905)

Sir Alan Mocatta

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Frederic David Mocatta, 1828-1905* SIR ALAN MOCATTA, O.B.E. To be invited to be President of the Jewish Historical Society was, at any rate for me, not only an honour but also an embarrassment. It was an honour because of the many distin? guished and learned men who have held this office since Lucien Wolf became the first President in 1893. It was an embarrassment, not only because of the quality in the field of scholarship and historical research of previous Presidents, but, even more so, because your President is, on election, traditionally expected to read a paper resulting from some original research. This latter requirement led me in the first place to decline the invitation, but I was pressed and, probably too weakly, eventually consented, on its being suggested to me that I might read a paper on F. D. Mocatta, un? doubtedly the most distinguished holder of my patronymic there has been in this country. My father, who was a second cousin once removed of F. D. Mocatta and who knew him, brought me up to know something of his reputation and standing. For some years now I have been Chairman of the Mocatta Library Committee of University College. These facts, a natural pride and interest in my family name, and some final persuasion by my brother-in law, Mr. A. S. Diamond, a former President of the Society, eventually induced me to accept the invitation to be President this year. In consequence, I am addressing you tonight feeling honoured, but still embarrassed, though considerably wiser about the subject of this paper, as well as other matters, as the result of many hours spent in the Mocatta Library and elsewhere. OLD-ESTABLISHED FAMILY Frederic David Mocatta (Frederic without the final 'k' mistakenly printed on our pro? gramme) was born on 15 January 1828 and died on 16 January 1905, aged 77. He was the fourth and youngest child of Abraham Mocatta (1797-1880) and of Miriam Brandon (1796-1875). His great-grandfather was Abraham Lumbrozo de Mattos (1730-1800), who, in 1791, by royal licence, dropped the names of Lumbrozo de Mattos and substituted his maternal grandfather's name of Mocatta. Had it not been for this, the family name of Mocatta would have died out in this country. So far as can be ascertained, all the Mocat tas, both in this country and in Australia, where there have been and still are many holders of the name, are descended from this Abraham Mocatta, born Lumbrozo de Mattos. Through his mother he was the grandson of Moses Mocatta, who died in 1693, while on a visit from London to Amsterdam. It is not known when this Moses Mocatta settled in Lon? don, but his name appears in the accounts of the old Greechurch Lane Synagogue, now at Bevis Marks, in 1671 and subsequent years, and he was clearly a pious man and a keen member of the congregation. In the accounts of 1674 he is shown as having presented not only an ethrog but also a flagellation thong.1 The London Directory of 1677 records him as a merchant living in Camomile Street. The meaning of the family name cannot perhaps be determined with certainty. In Latin characters it is found spelt in many different ways. One is Mucata, which is to be found on the leather cases for the silver Sefer bells belonging originally to the two sons of Moses Mocatta, which I have been fortunate enough to inherit. This clearly suggests?and there seems little doubt on this point?that the name is Arabic in origin. In the Ketuboth and on the tombstones of the London Congregation the name has been spelt in Hebrew without an ayin at the end, and so it appears on a Leghorn tombstone of 1648. If this is a correct trans? literation, the origin of the name remains a puzzle. If, however, an ayin is used, the name appears to derive from the root ttDj?; not used * Presidential Address delivered to the J.H.S.E. on 12 November 1969. i El Libro de los Acuerdos. Oxford, 1931, p. 90. 1</page><page sequence="2">2 Sir Alan Mocatta in Biblical Hebrew but appearing in Talmudic Hebrew and a common Arabic root, meaning 4to cut'. The form of the name suggests, I am told by Rabbi Dr. David Kamhi, a part of the Arabic verb, corresponding to the Piel in Hebrew, and may mean one who is cut off, or one who is small in stature. Of these, the latter seems the more likely for a proper name. Yet another alternative is broken, crippled, or paralysed. There is extant a letter from Frederic Mocatta to Lucien Wolf giving him certain information about the family.2 It is interesting that Mocatta wrote that he believed the name should be spelt with an ayin; he went on, how? ever, to suggest that it might mean 'mason', but that the name was more likely to have been derived from a place. STRICT SABBATH OBSERVANCE Mocatta was born at 4 Andover Place, Camberwell, then a good residential area, as it is now once more tending to become. The distance from the synagogue at Bevis Marks must have been a considerable obstacle to attendance on Sabbath to a family as devout as the Mocattas. Indeed, Frederic Mocatta throughout his life is said never to have driven on the Sabbath.3 Although in 1906, after Mocatta's death, at the inauguration of the Mocatta Library at University College, the Provost of the College stated that Mocatta was educated at University College School, the truth appears to be that he was privately educated at home; partly by his father, who taught him Hebrew and Latin, and partly by tutors. He had been sent to school for a few months, but he did not like it. Not many boys can have enjoyed such freedom of choice. The result of his private education was that, apart from his devotion to Judaism, he became greatly interested in history and foreign languages. He was an excellent linguist and his niece wrote of him3 that he would not visit a foreign country with? out picking up enough of the language to hold a conversation with its people. Mocatta's father had become a partner in Mocatta and Goldsmid in 1826 and he himself went into the firm in 1843, when 15. He became a partner in 1849 and retired in 1875, when only 47, in order to be free to devote himself to what had become his major interest in life, namely, his philanthropic pursuits. I have been told that the tradition in the firm was that Mocatta was far more interested in his outside activities than in the business of the firm. As an example of this, even at the age of 16, he was the treasurer of a fund of ?200, collected from the Mocattas, Roth? schilds, Goldsmids, and Henriques as a birthday gift for Dr. Leopold Zunz?a sum used by the latter to help defray the cost of publishing his work On the History and Literature of the Jews. In 1856 he married Mary Ada Goldsmid, then 20, who outlived him by a few months. They had no children. He and his wife were a devoted couple, but she was a semi-invalid all their married life, having contracted rheu? matism on her honeymoon. The consequence of this was that a portion of every winter was spent by the couple in Aix-les-Bains and quite a number of the many letters written by Mocatta to the Jewish Chronicle and to the Secretary of the Charity Organisation Society were addressed from there. Before coming to Mocatta's best-known activi? ties, namely, in the field of charitable relief, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and in the patron? age of learning, it is convenient to say something of his religious position, his extensive travels, and his views on Jews and the Holy Land. CONSERVATIVE IN RELIGION Mocatta was a man of very wide and tolerant outlook, which is well illustrated in his reli? gious position. His father was one of the founders of the Reform Synagogue, but was an exceedingly reluctant seceder. Mocatta was Barmitzvah at Bevis Marks despite the immi? nence of the opening of the first Reform Synagogue. He maintained the closest possible contact with the old congregation and its charities and in 1885 was elected a Yahid of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, although then a member4 of the Council of 2 Luden Wolf Letters, Mocatta Library. 3 Memoir by Ada Mocatta, 1911, p. 8. 4 He was later Chairman of the Council and President of the Synagogue.</page><page sequence="3">Frederic David Mocatta, 1828-1905 3 the Reform Synagogue, which he remained until his death. Indeed, in 1900 he was, not? withstanding his position in the Reform Syna? gogue, prepared to accept office as a Warden of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, though this did not, in fact, become necessary. In religious outlook he was, therefore, con? servative and he frequently opposed any alteration in the Reform Service. In opposing proposed changes concerning the omission of references to sacrifices, the introduction of a triennial cycle for the reading of the Law, and the reading of the Haftarah in English, he said5 'if Judaism meant anything, it was a historical religion*. He thought that, at the end of six months after the proposed changes had come into operation, the Synagogue would be as empty as before. His conservative tastes were clearly shared by his wife, who, in her will, left a sum of money to the West London Syna? gogue on condition that what was said in Hebrew at the date of her will was still being so read at the date of her death. But if his personal religious inclinations were conservative, and indeed more conservative than the bulk of the membership of the Council of the West London Synagogue, his great desire was for religious unity. At one annual meeting of the Reform Synagogue, he said that he was so free of prejudice that he was a member of Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues as well as his own and that all he cared for was that the Jewish religion should be kept up.6 On 25 April 1890, after the death of Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, Mocatta together with five others wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild, in the preparation of which he was a prime mover, urging that steps should be taken to unite the entire Anglo-Jewish Community under one spiritual chief, while allowing the constituent members some autonomy and not requiring any change in their present mode of service. In the letter it was said that 'the main principles of the Creed of all [sections of Jews] are not merely similar but identical, and that the brotherhood of Israel is far stronger than any divergence of any liturgy or rite'. No doubt these views were most strongly held by Mocatta. The upshot of the letter was that Lord Roth? schild invited representatives of the Federation, Spanish and Portuguese, and the West London and Metropolitan and Provincial synagogues to a conference to discuss the proposal of having one spiritual head, though the special positions of the Spanish and Portuguese and the West London Synagogues were tG be met by the Chief Rabbi being spiritual head 'in a consultative capacity only'. UNIFYING SCHEME REJECTED It may be that, however admirably inten tioned, these proposals were too vague ever to have met with success. The invitation of Lord Rothschild was rejected by the Elders of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation and, a week later, by a very substantial majority of the seat-holders at the West London Syna? gogue. This must have been a sad day for Mocatta, who had spoken strongly in favour of the invitation's being accepted, saying that he cared more for the interests of the Jews as a whole than of those of the Congregations. Nearly two years later there was a proposal for a joint burial scheme between the United Synagogue and the West London. Needless to say, this had Mocatta's whole-hearted support, but it was rejected by the Reform Synagogue, Mocatta saying that there were members of that synagogue who only found their way there when they wished to maintain separatism. Fortunately not very long after a conjoint burial board, still happily continu? ing, was set up by the West London and Spanish and Portuguese Synagogues. His conservatism in religious matters was mainly attributable to devotion to his parents and their example and partly to his great interest in Jewish history. He was not much interested in religious philosophy or mysticism. For example, he once said of Buddhism,7 'the system itself is no longer the splendid exponent of pure and simple ethics leading men up to lofty ideals and holy lives, but a mass of in? comprehensible metaphysics and mysteries'. He was, however, intensely tolerant and drew his friends from all shades of belief and dis 5 Jewish Chronicle, 13 July 1888. ^ Ibid., 22 March 1895. 7J.C, 19 April 1893.</page><page sequence="4">4 Sir Alan Mocatta belief. This, however, did not prevent his objection, in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle in 1895, to any credit being claimed in that journal, in relation to successful candidates at the recent General Election, for the Jewish origin of distinguished converts and those who had cut themselves off from Judaism. 'INCORRIGIBLE TRAVELLER' Mocatta was throughout his life, in his own words, s 'an incorrigible traveller* and, when travelling, wished to see everything of interest there was to be seen, both Jewish and non Jewish. In modern parlance, he might even be described as a rubberneck and once took his nephew, Claude Montefiore, to task for only having visited about half the cathedrals in England. The extent of his travels in Europe can be illustrated by the fact that in 1887 he consulted Dr. Moses Gaster, with whom he was on terms of close friendship, for advice about places to visit in Rumania.9 Mocatta received such advice and thanked Dr. Gaster for it in writing both before and during his visit. In the earlier letter he explained to Dr. Gaster that he wanted to go to Rumania, since, as he put it, it was the only country in Europe which he did not know. His visits to the Jewish communities in the countries of his travels were exceedingly thorough and enabled him not only to direct some of his personal philanthropy in their direction but also to give invaluable advice to both the Alliance Israelite, of which he was a member, and to the Anglo-Jewish Associa? tion in dealing with Jewish problems in various countries, particularly in the Near East. Some descriptions are extant of the character of some of these visits abroad. The earliest was in 1855, the year before his marriage, when he visited Jerusalem. A letter10 to the Jewish Chronicle from a resident there described Mocatta's visit thus: 'It is so rare that Jewish pilgrims from the west of Europe visit us, and evince a lively interest in our fate, that I feel prompted to inform you that we lately had an interesting visitor, and that too from London. It was Mr. Mocatta. This excellent gentleman, who spent several weeks in Jerusalem, and who led here in every respect a most exemplary Jewish life, attended every synagogue at Jerusalem, and visited, previous to his departure, the houses of the poorest Jews, distributing considerable sums of money to the various synagogues'. This visit took place shortly before the fourth visit of Sir Moses Montefiore, whose arrival was eagerly awaited at the time Mocatta was there. In 1858 Mocatta travelled through the south of Spain and crossed over to Tangier, where he stayed five days. As a result he wrote a very long and detailed description11 of the position of the Jews in Morocco?somewhat roman? tically called by him the Barbary Jews? dealing not only with their numbers, distribu? tion, historical provenance, education, and occupations, but also describing many pic? turesque customs in which Mocatta was clearly greatly interested; as he was in all ceremonies of any antiquity. A letter from the correspondent of the Jewish Chronicle in Rome of 13 February 1881 refers to visits by Mocatta to all the Jewish institu? tions there. It records a number of gifts by him to some of them and, as a striking illustration of his broad outlook, mentions a handsome gift to the Catholic Infant School. As he was to say late in life, 'as to religion and nationality in charity, I acknowledge neither. I help Christ? ians as well as Jews'. CONDITIONS IN RUMANIA In 1884 he spent twelve days in Constanti? nople, visiting nearly all the Alliance schools there, and went on to Athens and Salonika, and in 1892 he toured Egypt. His travels in Rumania in 1887 were particularly extensive and, by reason of the grievous injustice which the large Jewish communities suffered, far from happy. He thought the position of Jews there likely for some time to become worse rather than better and in a private letter expressed the view that their trials arose from very little 8J. World, 29 January 1897. 9 Gaster letters, Mocatta Library. 10 13 July 1855. ?J.C. 13 August 1858.</page><page sequence="5">Frederic David Mocatta, 1828-1905 fault of their own. He visited the King and gave some money to Prince Ghika for charit? able purposes. The Jewish Chronicle records Prince Ghika as having said on this occasion that 'the misfortunes of the Jews in Rumania are due to the fact that they are more intelli? gent, more active and more laborious than the Christians'. Mocatta thought the major field in which the Jewries of the West could help was by succouring education and by training teachers in the Rumanian language for Jewish schools. One touch in a lighter vein is recorded of this visit. When in Bucharest he was invited on a Sabbath to visit both Ash kenazi and Sephardi synagogues, and fell for the Gaster Synagogue because of the oratory of the father of the Haham in his private synagogue. His subsequent visit to Russia after Rumania was one of many, though he wrote,12 T never feel at ease in that terrible country'. He was inevitably closely concerned with the consequences of the Russian persecution of Jews and in 1882 visited Berlin and Vienna at the request of the Mansion House Fund Committee for the Relief of Russian Jews to help in the systematic organisation of emigra? tion. During his visit to Berlin he secured the support of the Crown Princess and the authori? ties so that there should be no impediments to free passage for emigrants from Russia passing through Germany. These are only references to some of his travels. It is not surprising that Claude Montefiore said at an Anglo-Jewish Associa? tion meeting in 1895 that Mocatta's knowledge of Jews in all countries was probably unexam? pled among English Jews. I have mentioned his visit to Jerusalem in 1855 and it is convenient here to say something of his views on Jewish colonisation in the Holy Land and on Zionism. He was naturally keenly interested in anything practical that could be done to afford lasting improvement to the impoverished condition of the Jews in Palestine and was a keen supporter of schools there, under the aegis of the Alliance, providing agricultural training. He did what he could to raise funds for the Baron Lionel de Roths? child school in Jerusalem and he sought to enlarge the activities there of the English Hospital for Eye Diseases.13 However, neither in the early part of his life nor after the launching of the Zionist Movement by Theodor Herzl in its modern form was he a Zionist. In a letter to the Jewish Chronicle in 1875 he deprecated the large sums of money, col? lected principally in Central and Eastern Europe annually, and distributed through local rabbis in Jerusalem on a per capita basis in circumstances in which the gifts ceased to be regarded as special aids, but came to be looked upon as a regular income. He regretted that more Jews should be attracted to the country. Money should rather be spent on setting up schools, especially for girls and for imparting skilled training and for assisting in emigration. While he favoured emigration from Russia and Rumania, this should be directed to countries like Canada and the U.S.A. and not to Palestine. He thought that plans for fostering industrial pursuits in that country could only be forced and must before long entirely decay. Nor did he think the country could ever sup? port a large population. He expressed views of this character forcibly on a number of occasions, both in letters to the Press and in his private correspondence with Dr. Gaster. AJ.A. AND ZIONIST MOVEMENT On the other hand, despite his own strong views, he could see the other side of the question. In February 1898 the Council of the Anglo Jewish Association were discussing whether they should be represented at the forthcoming second Zionist Congress at Basle. Mocatta said he would be very sorry if the Association were to pronounce itself opposed to the Zionist Movement and even more sorry if the Associa? tion pronounced itself in favour of it. Great interests would be imperilled were the Associa? tion to identify itself in any way with the move? ment. He was not in favour of the Zionist movement, but he would not press his view if it were thought desirable that the Association should be represented. In the upshot, it was not. Mocatta's distinction as a philanthropist was 12 Memoir, p. 48. B 13 Gohen-Reiss: Remembrances of a Jerusalem Inhabitant, p. 108.</page><page sequence="6">6 Sir Alan Mocatta based on two major activities: his support for and patronage of learning, particularly that relating to Jewish history, and his passionate interest in and support for charitable activities, both Jewish and non-Jewish, on well-thought-out principles. In the field of learning, he made his own modest contribution, apart from the very distinguished part he played as a patron of others. His own writings were limited in number. The best known was his short his? torical sketch on the Jews of Spain and Portu? gal and the Inquisition. This originated in a lecture given in 1876 to the Jewish Working Men's Club in the East End of London. It was published in book form in 1877, proved very popular, and was subsequently translated into German, Italian, and Hebrew. Later, in 1888, he gave a lecture, attended by over 500 people, in Kensington Town Hall, on 'The Jews at the Present Time in their Various Habitations', subsequently published in full as a supplement to the Jewish Chronicle.? This was a careful and detailed survey of the then world-wide distribution of Jewry, giving approximate numbers in each country and details of status and treatment by the various Governments. No doubt his own very exten? sive travels contributed much to the informa? tion he was able to assemble. This lecture was a more detailed version of a long introductory address he had given at a soiree in his house in 1873, in support of the Anglo-Jewish Associa? tion, which had been founded in 1871, and with which he was most closely and actively associated as Vice-President until his death. He indicated in this address various directions in which the A.J.A. could help. It is sad to read of the unfounded optimism he then expressed as to the future of Russian Jewry. He said, 'There is little doubt that as civilization advances generally in Russia, the Jews will acquire an extension of their rights and it is to be believed that before the end of the nineteenth century, they will be put on a perfect equality with their fellow-citizens'. No doubt such hopes were natural in the heyday of Victorian liberalism. In his lecture of 1888, a very different note was struck and the Russian section of that lecture ended: 'until the un? natural fabric of the Russian Government shall have undergone an entire revolution, it can hardly be hoped that the Jews will be put in possession of that liberty which may be considered as the birthright of all humanity'. The revolution has come, but the liberty is, alas, still lacking. His other published lectures were concerned, in the main, with various aspects of charitable activity, save for one on the 'Religious Educa? tion of Jewish Children', in which, throughout his life, he was most actively interested. THE HISTORICAL EXHIBITION Although his own original writings were thus limited, his personal contribution to the study of Jewish history was of outstanding importance. The original idea of an Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition in conjunction with the Jubilee Celebrations of 1887 originated with Isidore Spielman, but this was enthusiastically sup? ported by Mocatta, at whose house, in 1886, the meeting at which it was decided to promote the exhibition was held. The objects were to promote a knowledge of Anglo-Jewish history, to create a deeper interest in events and relics bearing thereon, and to help determine the extent of the materials which existed for the completion of a history of the Jews in England. He was President of the Committee that organised the exhibition and on 2 April 1887 gave a soiree at the Albert Hall to 3,000 guests at its opening. Subsequently in 1888 at the final meeting of the Committee a de luxe bound catalogue of the exhibition was presented to Mocatta with an address recording the import? ant part he had played in the success of the exhibition. The stimulus given to the study of Jewish history by the success of this exhibition led in due course to the founding of the Jewish Historical Society in 1893. At the inaugural meeting on 9 June there was discussion as to the constitution and, in particular, whether the Society should be primarily concerned with Anglo-Jewish history. Mocatta thought not. He thought15 the Jews of England since the " 27 April 1888. i5 J.C., 9 June 1893.</page><page sequence="7">Frederic David Mocatta, 1828-1905 7 Resettlement had been mainly 'commercial people, brokers and merchants, a class of people to whom I essentially belong. I have no doubt they were a very respectable sort of people, but there is very little concerning them that is interesting to the general public'. He continued, 'England, perhaps, presents the least attractive field of any for historical research when com? pared with other countries and I cannot but believe that an Anglo-Jewish Historical Society would, five or six years after its crea? tion, die of inanition'. His view was not adopted and, as you know, his prophecy has been falsified. Mocatta was President of the Society in 1900-1902 and gave a Presidential address on 28 December 1900. He was succeeded as President by Sir Isidore Spielman, and after the latter's address in 1903 Mocatta referred to the hopes that had been extant since the exhibition of 1887 that a Museum and Library might soon be established in connection with the Society, since 'many of them had collections and objects suitable for exhibi? tion and did not know to whom to leave them'. THE MOCATTA LIBRARY INAUGURATION He had no doubt in mind his own very extensive library, of which a detailed catalogue was printed very shortly before his death. The width of his interests as a collector is shown by the inclusion in his library not only of a very strong section on Hebraica but also, for example, Icelandic manuscripts and a number of items including Luther's tracts which he presented to Stonyhurst College. Final arrange? ments for establishing a Museum and Library as part of the Jewish Historical Society had not been completed before he died, but the prospects were sufficiently encouraging for Mocatta to make new provisions as to his library in a codicil dated 11 January 1905, only five days before his death. By this he left certain book-cases, books, and manuscripts free of duty to the Mocatta Museum and Library, described as 'now in the course of formation under the direction of Isidore Spielman', with a discretion to his trustees to judge when the Museum and Library should have been properly instituted, to be exercised within two years of his death. The problems of where to establish the Museum and Library and how to finance it were not easy. Fortunately space became avail? able at University College, owing to the re? moval of University College School to Hamp stead. Professor Hermann Gollancz suggested to the College authorities that the Library should be housed in the College as part of the College Library and negotiations to this effect were completed on 24 October 1905. Sir Isidore Spielman and Mr. Gustave Tuck launched an appeal for an endowment, which raised ?2,500, and, finally, on 11 July 1906 the Mocatta Library and Museum was in? augurated with the double object of being a memorial to Mocatta and a place of study. At that date the library contained 4,600 books and manuscripts. I shall not trace the subsequent development and expansion of the Library. Its importance to Jewish historical studies ever since is well known and there could have been no better memorial to Mocatta's interest in and support for the study of Jewish history. Mocatta's patronage of Jewish scholarship was very extensive. Perhaps the most remark? able example was the action he took in con? nection with Graetz's History of the Jews. Here he planned a contracted form of that work, thereby reducing its eleven volumes to five, and defrayed the whole cost of translation into English and the subsequent publication. He assisted Zunz in his publications on more than one occasion, though not, regretfully, always to the full extent required.16 Dr. Berliner's History of the Jews in Rome was dedicated to him in recognition of his patronage. He de? frayed the cost of sending Joseph Jacobs to Spain in 1888 to examine Spanish archives on the Inquisition, help which resulted in the publication in 1894 of Jacobs's Sources of the History of the Jews in Spain.11 These are some of his known benefactions to scholars. In this field, however, as in the case of more general charitable gifts, he did much which received no publicity. In his extensive correspondence with 16 Gaster Anniversary Volume: 'Occident and Orient', pp. 144-153. 17 13 Am. J.H.S., 141.</page><page sequence="8">8 Sir Alan Mocatta Dr. Moses Gaster1? there are many references to these, including letters asking the Haham's advice whether he should or should not support a particular scholarly project. It was, however, general charitable work in all its aspects which he made literally his business. That phrase is his own, used in a letter,18 written by him from the Vosges, in which he said?when enclosing funds for certain deserving cases?T try to keep my business going wherever I am'. So great was the pressure upon him of the correspondence concerning his philanthropy that he had a private post-box attached to the door of his house, 9 Connaught Place, so as to be able to dispatch letters in the early hours of the morning. The particular side of his business that involved giving money out of his pocket, which he was constantly doing on a very extensive scale (so much so that, as he told Dr. Gaster, he could hardly keep out of debt), was not, however, the aspect of charity in which he made his greatest contribution. Money of course there had to be and he often spoke and wrote in criticism of those who could afford to but did not support the activities of charities run on principles of which he approved, such as the Jewish Board of Guar? dians. In one letter to the press19 he took to task the rich who did nothing. 'High position and great fortune, without a sense of obligation, are the very factors to create anti-semitism, which under such circumstances would be only too well deserved'. CHARITY ORGANISATION His greatest concern, however, was that charitable activities, whether Jewish or Christian, should be organised on well thought-out principles. He lived and worked, of course, well before even the earliest activities which have in recent years developed into what we call the Welfare State. There were the local guardians of the poor, with their work? houses and some outdoor relief, and, apart from this, a multitude of private charities, many of which were run on lines of which he strongly disapproved, both because they tended to pauperise and also because of their inefficiency. He strongly favoured the combination of small charitable institutions with similar objects, so that they might be administered both more economically and more efficiently, and the careful relief of those who were capable of bettering themselves, so as to help them stand on their own feet. He expressed himself in forceful language on these matters on many occasions. Thus, at the annual general meeting of the Jewish Board of Guardians in 1889, he said 'it was not the province of a great charity to aid the poor, so much as to render them independent. A greater object still, was to prevent people from becoming poor. The system of doles which used to find such favour was a very bad one'. And again in 1897 he said 'he was certain that a great deal of relief was badly administered. His idea was rather to exterminate poverty than relieve the poor; of course they had to help the ailing, the aged, the crippled and the mentally weak, but of the mass, the poor hard-working persons would be the more grateful when they were enabled to bring up their families independently'. OPPOSITION TO CHARITY 'VOTES' It is not surprising that, holding the views he did, he was one of the original members of the Council of the Charity Organisation Society, of which he subsequently became Vice-President. It was established in 1869. He was on terms of close friendship with Charles Stewart Lock, secretary of that Society from 1875 until 1913, and during many of his visits to France and Belgium he wrote to Lock giving detailed information about charitable administration in those countries, which he carefully investigated. His regard for the work of the C.O.S. is shown by the fact that he left half of his residuary estate of ?\ 10,000 to that Society and the other half to the Jewish Board of Guardians, of which he was a member from 1865 and Vice-President from 1887. These were, perhaps, the two major charitable organisations to which he was most devoted; they both worked on the basis of the principles to which he attached so much importance. He was bitterly opposed to any charity the is Gaster Letters, Mocatta Library. 1? J.C., 31 May 1895.</page><page sequence="9">Frederic David Mocatta, 1828-1905 9 Constitution of which provided that sub? scribers should be able by their votes to deter? mine to which candidates relief should be granted. He regarded this system as irrational and immoral. Relief should be granted according to need and merit, carefully ascer? tained by experienced case workers, and not according to the personal whims of donors. The voting charity system he found to be peculiar to England and particularly London, and he refused to contribute to a society where such a system of voting was in force. His campaign against this system was main? tained vigorously in the press over many years and no doubt met with some success. Never? theless it had not come to an end at the date of his will in 1902 and in it he mentions institutions to which he had intended leaving money but had refrained from so doing because of their system of electing those to be benefited by means of votes of subscribers instead of on merit, which he was convinced was unsound and frustrated the best aims of charity. When he died he was Chairman of the Charity Voting Reform Association. As regards the combination of small charities so as to increase their efficiency, he achieved two notable successes. Thus he was responsible for amalgamations leading to the ultimate establishment both of the Home for Aged Jews and of what later became the Jewish Orphanage at Norwood. Although in a speech he once said20 that he might almost be considered a Jewish Socialist, he thought the role of the State in charitable relief should be strictly limited. He considered the State should keep a careful watch over the finances and administration of charitable foundations, but with his views on the value of encouraging independence and curing the causes of poverty, it is not surprising that he was bitterly opposed to State pensions for old age, which in 1898 he described21 as a damning heresy. Naturally, in view of his feeling for history and his deeply religious nature, he was intensely interested in education, both secular and religious. It is interesting that although he was opposed to universal suffrage in the then state of education?this was 1892?he fully advocated22 unmarried adult women having votes, which would, he thought, have the effect that their education would be taken more seriously. There was hardly any Jewish school in the metropolis with which he was not closely associated. He attached much importance to the teaching of Hebrew, and once, in connection with a scheme to produce a new Jewish English Bible, which he was prepared to support, said23 his idea was that Jews ought to want no translation of the Bible, though he recognised this to be an impossible ideal. He was not content merely with sup? porting such schools financially, lecturing at them or presiding at Speech Days and Prize Givings. He was determined that the standards of teaching should be high. Accordingly he not infrequently himself examined pupils immediately before a prize-giving at which he presided and, as an example,24 spent three hours in 1873 at the Westminster Jews' Free School in conducting such a personal examina? tion in every class and subject, so as to ensure that the sample of the pupils' work presented at the prize-giving ceremony on the next day was a fair one. CONCERN FOR SOCIAL WELFARE It would not be practicable to attempt to catalogue in detail the innumerable causes and societies, both Jewish and non-Jewish, which he supported, but the wide range of his activities is most remarkable. He was active, as a member of its Committee, in the work of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; as early as 1877 he urged the establishment of public abattoirs in place of private slaughter-houses. He supported the opening of museums on Sundays so as to provide innocent entertain? ment on that day, suggesting, if necessary, that Jewish custodians might be employed.25 He was concerned, together with the local Angli? can clergy and others, in securing the reopen? ing of the Whitechapel baths and wash-houses. 20 J.C., 1 April 1892. 21 Memoir, p. 43. 22 Memoir, p. 45. 23 Gaster Letters, Mocatta Library. 24 J.C., 23 May 1873. 25 J.C., 6 April 1877.</page><page sequence="10">10 Sir Alan Mocatta From his speech26 on this subject in 1873, one learns with astonishment that water was not, at that date, supplied to the poor on Sundays. He was always concerned with the health of the poor and, on one occasion, had translations made of a French treatise on the causes, treat? ment, and prevention of tuberculosis and sent copies, at his own expense, to all social workers of the Jewish Board of Guardians.27 In his work at the Board, he was particularly concerned to see that Jewish immigrants to the East End of London could not rightly be accused of causing the spread of any infectious diseases, and once challenged a suggestion of this kind in a letter to The Times.2* The position which Mocatta won for him? self, both within and without the Anglo Jewish community, is difficult to appreciate today. He was a sufficiently well-known figure to be the subject of a caricature in Punch. It seems clear that the unique regard in which he was held was due not only to what he did but how he did it. At the time of his death Claude Montefiore described him as unques? tionably the most eminent English Jew.29 All who knew him spoke of the charm of his personality, and Dr. Gaster said30 he was the only man who made no enemies. He was devoted to children and they were fascinated by him. Two tributes to the position he attained must be mentioned. Shortly after his 69th birthday, on 26 January 1897, at a packed and enthusiastic meeting at the Jews' Free School, a presentation was made to him of a volume containing an address of congratula? tion. This used to be in the Mocatta Library, but was, alas, a casualty of the blitz in 1940. There were 8,000 signatures, containing among them persons signing on behalf of over 250 public bodies, among them 25 London hospitals and 70 other non-Jewish institutions. The volume included representatives from Jewish communities from as far east as Bombay and as far west as Jamaica and Canada. Among the signatories were members of the Royal Family, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, who was on the Presentation Committee, and leaders of many different denominations. It may be doubted whether any parallel to this presentation can be found. After his death, a memorial fountain, still to be seen, was erected by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association in the forecourt of St. Botolph Church, Aldgate, with the simple inscription Tn Honoured Memory of Frederic David Mocatta, in recognition of a benevolent life'. With that I can appropriately end this sketch of the life of a man to whom many, including all members of this Society, owe a continuing debt of affection and gratitude. 26 Ibid., 12 December 1873. 27 A Century of Social Service: V. D. Lipman, p. 141. 28 12 November 1869. 29 Memoir, p. 9. 30J.C, 20 January 1905.</page></plain_text>

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