< Back

M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart

Geoffrey Alderman

<plain_text><page sequence="1">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart* GEOFFREY ALDERMAN In this paper I propose to survey some aspects of the career of Morris Harold Davis, one of the most colourful and, at the same time, enigmatic communal leaders who walked the Anglo-Jewish stage in the period between the two World Wars. Davis pursued two careers simultaneously. He was President of the Federation of Synagogues from 1928 to 1944; his presidency of that body therefore spanned the period when the Federation reached the height of its ascendancy in Anglo-Jewish affairs during the first century of its existence, but also when it began its long decline. Davis was in some measure responsible both for that ascendancy and, in some measure, for the decline. At virtually the same time he became the leading figure in the Stepney Labour Party, was Mayor of Stepney in 1930 1, Labour Leader of Stepney Borough Council from 1935 to 1944, and one of the first Labour members of the London County Council (LCC). Davis was, to some extent, responsible for the pre-eminence of Labour in that most Jewish part of London. In the course of time he became responsible, to some extent, for the Stepney Labour Party's decline in public and in Jewish esteem. A history of the life and times of M. H. Davis thus illuminates and is a central feature of the history of East End Jewry, of Anglo-Jewry, of East End Labour politics, as well as of London politics, of the English Zionist movement and indeed of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Controversy followed him like a shadow. In researching his past I have met people who have refused to talk to me about him and who, indeed, have suggested to me that his career ought not to be researched at all. I am, however, most grateful to Mr Michael Goldman, Dr Bernard Homa, Mr Morris Lederman, Mr Abraham Olivestone and Mr Thomas Reif (one of Davis's executors, who befriended him in the closing years of his life), and to the late Dr Stanley Chazen and the late Mr J. L. Cymerman, for sparing the time to share their memories of Morry Davis with me. I also want to acknowledge my gratitude to former Councillor Jerry Long, who agreed most readily to be interviewed by me (6 July 1989) in spite of serious ill health. Naturally, the opinions and judgements which follow are, unless indicated to the contrary, exclusively my own. Let us, therefore, begin at the beginning. Morris Aaron, later known as * Paper presented to the Society on 21 June 1990. 249</page><page sequence="2">Geoffrey Alderman Morris Harold, or simply 'Morry' Davis, was born at 47 Langdale Street, in the registration district and parliamentary constituency of St George's-in the-East, adjoining Whitechapel, on 7 November 1894, a son of Joseph Davis and his wife Bertha. Langdale Street lay off Cannon Street Road, between the Commercial Road and Cable Street. By 1918, as the electoral registers indicate, the family had moved to 139 Leman Street, in the heart of the Jewish East End. But I think it significant that Davis spent his earliest years in Langdale Street, practically on the border that separated the Jewish quarter of East London from the Irish. In the 1930s, relations between the Jewish and Irish communities generally became very strained; but in the late 1890s and the early years of the present century, they were very good, cemented by common problems of living in an area of great deprivation and by common interests - in obtaining and retaining, for example, state aid for denominational schools.1 We can, I think, reasonably surmise that Davis met many Irish people in his youth, and that he made friends among them during his schooldays, which were spent at Raine's School, Rutland Street LCC School, and Myrdle Street Central School.2 Certainly he moved easily in the world of the East End Irish Catholics, and his entree into this world must surely have been made easier by the fact of his father's occupation. On Morry Davis's birth certificate his father, Joseph, is described as a 'wholesale boot maker'. Joseph had been born in Minsk in 1868, had married abroad and settled in London at the age of twenty-one, becoming naturalized in 1896.3 Joseph was a staunchly orthodox Jew, a founder of the Cannon Street Road synagogue (which became affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues) and of the Christian Street Talmud Torah, and very active in the Jewish friendly society movement in London.4 In 1917 Joseph had moved from boot-and-shoe manufacturing to becoming the licensee of the 'Brown Bear' public house, situated at 139 Leman Street. On leaving school Morry had been apprenticed in the ladies' tailoring trade. I can find no record of his having performed any military service during the Great War, but it is certain that he subsequently joined his father's apparently lucrative foray into the world of public houses, having become, in 1921, manager of the 'Brown Bear' run by his father.5 The licence of the 'Brown Bear' was relinquished (to another Jew) in 1926. But that same year Morry himself became the licensee of the 'Bell Tavern', 116 St George Street, Shadwell. This establishment was closed by decision of the Tower Hamlets Licensing Division in 1929.6 Thereafter Davis devoted himself entirely to communal and political life, describing himself at his trial in 1944 as a 'social worker' and living, I am told, on his own wealth and on that of his parents.7 Morry revered his 250</page><page sequence="3">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart father, whose funeral, at the Edmonton cemetery of the Federation of Synagogues in 1940, was a great municipal and communal occasion. The cortege included no less than two dayanim (Abramsky and Lazarus) as well as the Mayor and Town Clerk of Stepney; Stepney Council itself rose in silent tribute. His mother, Bertha, he worshipped. During his year as Mayor of Stepney Bertha became the Mayoress; when she died in 1954, Davis seems to have overlooked arranging for an inscription to her memory to be placed on the double tombstone.8 Davis himself never married. According to Mr Reif he was 'a bit of a ladies' man' and could, on occasion, be a heavy drinker. One might interpret these facts as evidence of a certain emotional immaturity on Davis's part. Morry Davis was loudmouthed, precocious and intolerant. To those to whom he took a dislike he could be - and was - merciless. 'Once you'd had a quarrel with him', Jerry Long has told me, 'that was that'. To those he befriended he could be charitable to excess. He spoke English and Yiddish fluently and with some stylistic accomplishment. He was possessed of a great deal of craft and cunning; he could certainly be regarded as clever, and even as intelligent. Above all else, next to his mother, he loved power, and from his mid-twenties he devoted his considerable talents to its pursuit in each of the worlds he inhabited: municipal politics in London and communal politics in the Federation of Synagogues. In June 1918, East End politics entered a new phase with the formation of the Stepney Central Labour Party, which brought together Jewish and non-Jewish socialists and trade-unionists.9 The creation and early functioning of the Party owed much to its Jewish secretary, the formidable Oscar Tobin, Romanian by birth, a chemist by training, and local organizer of the National Union of Shop Assistants.10 It was to Tobin's chemist's shop in Harford Street, Mile End, that the young Major Clement Attlee had repaired on his discharge from the Army, there to learn the politics of the East End and, as it turned out, to take the first steps in his own political career. Tobin had made a detailed study of the demography and topography of political power in Stepney, and had reached a simple conclusion: a party which had, and which retained, the support of both the Jews and the Irish was bound to win control of the Borough Council. The alliance between the Jews and the Irish Catholics had been strengthened in the period 1916-22 by the shared hostility of both communities in East London to the use made of the Defence of the Realm Act to deport Jews and, in the wake of the Easter 1916 Irish uprising, to imprison Irishmen without trial.11 The formation of the Stepney Central Labour Party, and the entry into that body of the Limehouse Irish, were therefore achievements of the first importance, making Tobin (in the 251</page><page sequence="4">Geoffrey Alderman words of Attlee's biographer) 'the East End's most influential political "boss"' at that time.12 They were also important milestones in the realization of Tobin's greater ambition, Labour control of Stepney Borough Council. In November 1919, never having held a single seat on the Stepney Council, Labour swept to power, winning 43 seats out of 60; Attlee became the borough's first Labour Mayor. Morry Davis saw himself as the heir to the inheritance Oscar Tobin had fashioned, and he went about claiming it with a focused determination. He met and made friends with Clement Attlee, and although he had been defeated, by a mere 17 votes, in the Whitechapel South ward of Stepney in 1919, it was Attlee who suggested his election nonetheless as an Alderman just two years later.13 As a member of the Stepney Labour Party Davis quickly offered himself as Oscar Tobin's protege, voting for Tobin's election as the first Jewish Mayor of Stepney in November 1921 and becoming a Vice-President of the Stepney Labour Party the following summer.14 Tobin tried unsuccessfully to have Davis appointed immediately to a range of council committees; the move was premature and had to be abandoned.15 Some months later his career was itself almost terminated when he attempted to repair a soda-water machine in the basement of the 'Brown Bear'; the contraption exploded in his face, and he sustained serious head injuries which put him out of action for several months.16 At the municipal elections of November 1922 Davis again stood at Whitechapel South, and was again defeated. But in June 1924 he was returned at a by-election that occurred in the North ward of St George's in-the-East. His rise in the committee structure of Stepney Council was thereafter rapid and unremitting. Within six months he had been elected to membership of the Finance, Parliamentary &amp; General Purposes, Staff and Education committees, becoming Chairman of the Education Committee in 1926; in December 1926 he gained election to the Valuation Committee, and the following January he became Vice-Chairman and in 1928 Chairman of the Finance Committee; in 1927 he had also become Chairman of the Markets Committee, and in 1928 the chairmanship of the Valuation Committee also fell to him.17 The chairmanship of these committees would alone have made Davis a most powerful figure in Stepney politics. They appear, for instance, to have given him some influence over the rating of business properties, more especially as a result of the passage of the Rating &amp; Valuation (Apportionment) Act in 1928, and they certainly gave him a unique role in the allocation of licences for market stallholders; Davis achieved the status of folk hero when, in spite of a parliamentary stipulation that a 252</page><page sequence="5">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart gap of 4 feet should separate each stall, he succeeded in reducing the gap in Stepney to Th feet, thus allowing up to 250 more stalls - but also, of course, increasing the patronage at the Markets Committee's disposal.18 In 1922 Davis had failed, by only eighty-seven votes, to win the second Whitechapel &amp; St George's seat for Labour on the London County Council; in 1925, faced with a split opposition - the (Liberal) Progressives and the (Conservative) Municipal Reformers having failed to renew an earlier pact - he had little difficulty in winning the division, and in thus inaugurating his career on the LCC, in which he also soon immersed himself in committee work. He had, meanwhile, been cultivating with equal deliberation the friendship of the leaders of Stepney's Irish Catholic community: in the early 1920s Alderman Jack Sullivan and, later on, Sullivan's own protege, Councillor Jeremiah ('Jerry') Long. In 1922 Sullivan unsuccessfully nominated Davis as mayor. Davis nominated Sullivan as mayor in 1926.19 It was Sullivan who made the successful nomination of Davis in 1930, and it was Davis who proposed Jerry Long as mayor in 1937. For Davis the support of the schoolteacher Jerry Long was crucial. Jerry's mother, the ambitious Hannah, had made her entire family (three sons and four daughters) members of the Labour Party, and was herself elected to the Stepney Council in 1929, a year after Jerry's own election.20 Jerry Long had been born in London in 1905, but his parents came from Cork (also the birthplace of J. J. Cahill, Mayor of Stepney in 1922-3), and it is clear that the Cork origins, devout Catholicism and impressive record of communal service of the Long family paid political dividends in the East End borough. Morry Davis's cultivation of Jerry Long was not, therefore, misplaced. As we shall see, the need to preserve the support of the Stepney Irish was to lead Davis, in due course, down some very strange political pathways. But in the late 1920s this danger was simply not apparent. Davis and Long shared a remarkable similarity of political outlook: they were moderate socialists, not revolutionary firebrands.21 They also became good friends. By 1939 one opponent could refer in truth to the 'Davis-Long axis' that ran Stepney politics.22 When Davis became Council Leader in Stepney in 1935, the ambitions entertained by Oscar Tobin for Labour control of the borough appeared to have been fulfilled. But Davis's achievements differed in one crucial respect from the vision of his political mentor. Oscar Tobin's influence on East End Jewry had been grounded almost exclusively within the socialist and trade-union movements. But Morry Davis had by 1930 also become the leader of what was then the largest synagogal organization in the capital and in the British Isles. Within a few years he could claim, indeed, to be a 253</page><page sequence="6">Geoffrey Alderman figure - even if only a minor figure - on the world Jewish stage. Morry Davis rose to the head of the Federation of Synagogues as a result of the revolt against the presidency of Louis Montagu, the second Lord Swaythling, who had succeeded his father, Samuel Montagu, as President on Samuel's death in 1911. Louis Montagu lacked his father's devout orthodoxy but made up for it by displaying an extreme anti Bolshevism and a virulent anti-Zionism; after 1919 he was tolerated within the Federation mainly out of respect for his father's name and memory.23 Inquiries into the financial misdeeds of the Federation's secretary, Joseph Blank, brought matters to a head. In a series of meetings of the Federation's Board of Delegates during 1925 Louis Montagu took it on himself to defend Blank, and thus sealed his own fate. It is in the minutes of these meetings that we first encounter Morry Davis in a Federation setting, and they remind us that Davis's conquest of the presidency of the Federation symbolized the victory of the immigrant classes over the Anglo-Jewish gentry in a manner much more tangible than, say, the ousting of David Lindo Alexander as President of the Board of Deputies and his replacement by Sir Stuart Samuel had done in 1917. Davis's victory was in truth nothing less than the triumph of a popular local figure over a remote moneyed aristocrat. Davis had been born into the bosom of the Federation, so to speak, and it is likely that he would have sought a communal career within and through its structure whatever the pretext. He was a strong supporter of the Zionist cause, becoming in time a Vice-President of the Jewish National Fund in England. Louis Montagu was a founder-member of the anti-Zionist League of British Jews, and one of the ten signatories of the mischievously worded and infamous letter which appeared in the anti Semitic Morning Post of 23 April 1919. The letter carried the clear implication that unpatriotic and indeed revolutionary sympathies were held by significant number of Jews living in Britain; it accused the Jewish Chronicle and its sister paper, the Jewish World, of promoting the Bolshevik cause.24 The ultimate targets of the letter were, of course, the immigrant Jewish masses and their offspring, whose very visible presence in East London and other British cities, and whose left-wing and nationalistic tendencies so embarrassed important sections of the Anglo Jewish ruling classes. Davis later claimed that his determination to enter the arena of Federation politics had been triggered by Montagu's action in signing this letter.25 There is no reason to doubt this claim. It was in and through Morry Davis that the embittered Yiddish speaking membership of the Federation's affiliated congregations found the voice to articulate their mounting anger with the English lord who 254</page><page sequence="7">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart ruled over them. Davis proved equal to the task. At a meeting attended by no fewer than 172 members of the Board of Delegates on 13 May 1925 (just a few weeks after his election to the LCC), Davis expressed the mood of no confidence in Louis Montagu's leadership, and gave public utterance to the suspicions concerning Joseph Blank, who was dismissed. It was Davis who obtained the largest number of votes in the election of a three-man sub? committee charged with finding a new secretary.26 And at the fateful Board meeting of 25 November 1925, the last which Louis Montagu attended, it was Davis who moved and carried a portentous resolution: 'That despite any rule or minute to the contrary ... at any meeting of the Federation, where any delegate desires to address the meeting in Yiddish, such permission be granted.' Samuel Montagu, the Federation's founder, had wanted the Federation to act, inter alia, as an instrument of anglicization; he had accordingly forbidden any discussion of Zionism at its meetings, and had banned the use of Yiddish. The passage of Davis's resolution was thus of the deepest significance, as well as being tactically brilliant. Louis Montagu acknowledged he could not understand Yiddish; his presidency thus came to an inglorious end.27 During 1926 Davis acted as chairman of Federation meetings, and, as a newly-elected Treasurer of the Federation's Burial Society, was instrumental (January 1926) in the voting of funds for Zionist causes - the Keren Hayesod and the Keren Kayemet. The Federation thus became, to the delight of Zionist fundraisers, the first significant non-Zionist organization in Anglo-Jewry to contribute to the redemption of the National Homeland. In February similar resolutions were approved by the Board of Delegates, and grants of increasing magnitude were made to the Keren Kayemet and the Keren Hayesod regularly thereafter.28 From 1926 Davis fulfilled, in effect, all the functions of Federation President. But he was not formally elected to that office until 20 March 1928, and then only by 79 votes to 51, at a meeting attended by over 200 delegates.29 It is pertinent to ask why the delay arose, and why the margin of his victory was so small. Some Federation members hoped to entice back Louis Montagu; when it became clear that this was hopeless, others argued that some person of eminence unconnected with the recent tumults might be induced to accept the presidential office. Davis's talents were admired, but his ambition was feared, and the proposal to concentrate in him the offices of Federation President and Burial Society Treasurer had many opponents.30 There is much merit in the argument that Davis became President by default. By the mid-1920s Federation synagogues had on their books no fewer than 12,565 families, representing something in excess of 50,000 255</page><page sequence="8">Geoffrey Alderman souls; in 1930 male membership of the United Synagogue totalled only 8310.31 The Federation was thus the largest synagogal body in the country at this time. But its public standing had suffered grievously during the last years of the Louis Montagu regime. We need to remind ourselves that 1926 was the year of foundation of what became the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, and that it is arguable that this body might never have grown and flourished, and become what the Federation claimed to be - the home of Torah-true orthodoxy in London - had the Federation itself been in better shape. Davis was supported by the Zionists and had become a very visible local celebrity. The wounds which the Federation had inflicted on itself in the early 1920s needed to be healed; Morry Davis alone seemed capable of healing them. The reality turned out to be a personal tragedy, a communal scandal and an institutional nightmare. Early on in his presidency Davis set in motion a comprehensive revision of the Federation's constitution. The old Board of Delegates was to be replaced by a General Council, but the new Executive Committee was to be much smaller than the old. Formerly the president of every affiliated synagogue had been an ex-officio member of the Executive; henceforth the Executive was to consist merely of sixteen elected members plus the President, Vice-President and the two Federation Treasurers. The quorum for meetings of the new Executive was to be seven, and the President, or in his absence the Vice-President, or in their absence either of the two Treasurers, was to 'have power to take action in case of emergency when it may be impracticable to convene the General Council or the Executive Committee.'32 Wiser counsels might have blocked the adoption of a scheme of governance that quite clearly made possible the rule of an oligarchy, or even of one man. Voices were indeed raised against the hasty implementation of the new scheme.33 But in 1934 Davis carried all before him, pleading correctly that the income-tax authorities required the adoption of new rules before they could consider the question of charitable status. This status was soon granted, and a refund of over ?900 obtained.34 In fact, Davis had already dispensed with the machinery of representative government which had been sanctioned by the constitutional revision. In 1928 a new Board of Delegates had been elected. Thereafter elections should have taken place every two years. This did not happen. At first the omission seems to have been passed over in silence. Later the excuse was cheekily offered that the holding of new elections would interfere with the promulgation of the revised constitution. Later still, Davis explained that it was only right and proper that those who had been responsible for the purchase of the Rainham cemetery, the site of 256</page><page sequence="9">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart which was acquired in 1936, should be in office when it was consecrated (20 February 1938).35 In fact, throughout the entire duration of the Davis presidency (some \Gh years), there was not a single election, either for honorary officers or for the General Council. How was this remarkable feat achieved? To attribute it to apathy is to turn a blind eye to Davis's political skills. Morry Davis pointed the Federation in directions in which its membership had wanted for some time to go. The 1934 constitution committed the Federation 'to further the upbuilding of Eretz Yisroel' and 'to use influence and exertion ... whenever intervention may be desirable, in favour of Jewish Communities throughout the world.'36 Under Davis's aegis the Federation, freed at last from the restraint of the Swaythling family, became totally committed to the Zionist cause, and generally adopted a much higher profile in the councils of Anglo-Jewry. An early indication of Davis's determination in this respect was his success in 1929 in doubling Federation representation on the London Board for Shechita; two years later a second vice-presidency of that Board was created for Davis to fill.37 Under Davis's leadership the Federation put considerable sums of money at the disposal of the Jewish National Fund, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and other Jewish endeavours in Palestine.38 Nor was Davis afraid of thrusting the Federation into the political arena in defence of Jewish national interests. A series of resolutions condemning the policy of the British administration in Palestine was forwarded to the Prime Minister, Ramsay Macdonald, on 12 September 1929. On 9 January 1936, again at Davis's prompting, the General Council resolved to deplore the establishment in Palestine of a Legislative Council which, at that time, would have relegated the Jews of the Yishuv 'to the status of a minority'.39 Considerable financial contributions were also made to the relief of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. As is well known, the Board of Deputies persistently rejected calls for an official economic boycott of Germany by Anglo-Jewry.40 Davis, however, saw to it that the Federation played a leading part in the formation of the 'Jewish Representative Council for the Boycott of German Goods and Services', which was inaugurated in November 1933 and of which he himself became Chairman.41 It is also noteworthy that the Federation, unlike the Board of Deputies at this time, did not hold aloof from the World Jewish Congress. Under Davis the Federation's many charitable disbursements in the non-Zionist sphere included the support of Jewish communities abroad, more especially in Poland. Commencing in 1931, an annual grant was made to the University of London's School of Oriental Studies in support of 257</page><page sequence="10">Geoffrey Alderman lectures on the Talmud. Grants were even made to entirely non-Jewish causes. In 1934 the sum of ?105 was donated to the relief of victims of the Gresford colliery disaster. This was, in fact, the second act of charity which, at Davis's prompting, the Federation had made in the direction of the coal-mining communities in the inter-war period. In 1929, in response to his personal appeal, eight Federation synagogues had donated small sums to relieve economic distress among British miners.42 The backcloth to all these initiatives was provided by the growth of the Federation itself. In 1927 Davis had put his weight behind a proposal that loans made by the Federation to its affiliated synagogues should in future be free of interest; 'the profit the Federation will make', Davis observed, 'will be in Yiddishkeit'.43 In his 1937 history, the late Dr Cecil Roth observed that the Federation was 'now no longer a predominantly East End organization'.44 This was an exaggeration, but the thought that prompted it - that affiliated synagogues were then to be found in all parts of London - was certainly true. Congregations admitted to the Federation in the Davis era included Central Hackney (1927); Clapton, Stamford Hill Beth Hamedrash and Walthamstow (1928); Fulham and Kensington (1929); Gladstone Park and Neasden, and Leytonstone (1932); Willesden (1933); Bermondsey (1935); Forest Gate (1937); and Springfield (Upper Clapton, 1938). Indeed, by the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, the Federation could boast congregations from Tottenham in north London to Bermondsey in the south, and from Shepherds Bush and Notting Hill in the west to Forest Gate in what were then the outlying eastern suburbs. And it was as a result of the greatly increased membership which this expansion brought that Davis took in hand the purchase of a new cemetery, at Rainham, Essex. The Federation was, in short, a far more extensive organization at the end of Davis's presidency than it had been at the end of Louis Montagu's, and its place in world and in Anglo-Jewish circles was far grander. Davis's advice and support were sought by Dr Hertz, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations; by the former Haham, Dr Moses Gaster; by Dr Nahum Goldmann of the World Jewish Congress; and by Dr Chaim Weizmann.45 Davis had also become a prominent member of the Board of Deputies, willing to put his considerable political influence at the disposal of the Board, more particularly in relation to London County Council matters. Between 1907 and 1934 the LCC was controlled by the Municipal Reformers, who had taken advantage of the anti-Jewish and anti-alien mood during and immediately after the Great War to push through a series of measures which affected London and especially East London 258</page><page sequence="11">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart Jewry profoundly. In 1918 the LCC resolved that in order to be eligible for Council scholarships, children would henceforth have to be British when applying for the award, and to have been born, or have fathers who were born, in Britain or the Dominions.46 In 1920 the Council adopted a recommendation that, except in the case of teachers of foreign languages or where it was resolved otherwise, no persons other than British subjects be taken into the employ of the LCC.47 Three years later the philosophy embodied in these measures was taken a stage further. Under the provisions of a housing regulation approved in June 1923, preference in the general allocation of accommodation on the Council's housing estates (other than accommodation in respect of displacement through slum clearance) was to be given in future to British citizens.48 This regulation, originally intended (so it was said) to be of a merely temporary nature, soon acquired a permanent place on housing application forms. Its effect, in the words of a Board of Deputies' memorandum, was to exclude alien applicants 'entirely from consideration for any tenancy in the Council's dwellings'.49 The tone of the Board's response to these measures was set by Sir Isadore Salmon, Conservative MP for Harrow from 1925 until his death in 1941, a member of the LCC from 1907 to 1925, and a Treasurer of the United Synagogue from 1925 to 1934, when he became a Vice-President.50 Salmon's view was that, given the temper of the times, it was both foolish and counterproductive for the Board to make a nuisance of itself by campaigning against LCC policy, more especially in the matter of scholarships.51 This was not a view which Morry Davis shared. Within a few weeks of his election to the LCC in 1925, Davis entered into a correspondence with the Board of Deputies on the scholarships question.52 As a member of the Board, and using as examples some of the most blatant cases of hardship and injustice in which the policy had resulted, he began a campaign to swing official Anglo-Jewish opinion into a less docile frame of mind.53 Although Davis and his allies (prominent among whom were Nettie Adler, Percy Harris and Lewis Silkin) were then in a minority at County Hall, at the Board of Deputies they were in a position to carry all before them.54 Their persistence threatened the position of the Board's leadership, and it is certain that towards the end of 1926 contact was made by this leadership with the London Municipal Society, which coordinated the efforts of the Municipal Reform Party in London, with the aim of defusing a situation fraught with danger not so much for London Conservatism as for the ability of anti-socialist and non- and anti-Zionist forces to continue to dominate the Board's proceedings.55 The result was a 259</page><page sequence="12">Geoffrey Alderman double victory of sorts. In July 1928 the LCC agreed to deal with each scholarship case on its merits; the following December it announced that it would employ naturalized as well as natural-born British subjects.56 As I have argued elsewhere, to some extent this policy change in the field of employment was the result of secular pressures quite outside the control of Anglo-Jewry57 Nonetheless, it would be churlish, and downright unjust, to deny Davis the tribute due to him in making certain that these matters were never off the communal agenda. But it is also significant that these modest victories were secured before Labour gained control of the LCC in 1934. The truth was that the anti-alien and anti-Jewish policies inaugurated by the Municipal Reformers in the fields of employment, education and housing enjoyed widespread popularity. The scholarship restrictions were enforced by the Labour-controlled LCC in relation to entry into Central schools, and remained Council policy even after the Second World War.58 The housing policy was also left intact. As Chairman of the LCC's Housing &amp; Public Health Committee Lewis Silkin brushed protests aside, while Davis said not a word in public, having already in 1933 (but in the privacy of the Board of Deputies' Law &amp; Parliamentary Committee) advised against taking any further action in this matter.59 In the mid-1930s Morry Davis was at the height of his communal and political power. A man in his position - in his unique combination of positions - might have been expected to have risen further, perhaps to a Vice-Presidency of the Board of Deputies, or even to a seat in Parliament.60 These further prizes eluded him. By 1936 his careers both as a Jewish leader and as a Labour politician had become controversial, and they were overshadowed by controversies of increasing severity and bitterness with the further passage of years. We have already noted his unconstitutional behaviour at the Federation of Synagogues. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, and the Cable Street climax to the rise of violent anti-Jewish fascism in East London in October 1936 led to further, and in my view fatal complications for him, and marked the watershed in his public life. On the whole, East End Jewry adopted a position sympathetic to the Spanish Republicans, whom the Irish viewed as anti-Catholic. Alienated by the anti-religious strain of Communist politics, and encouraged by the anti-Jewish tone prevalent in certain sections of the Catholic press, some Irish elements in East London tended to sympathize with the broad aims of fascism.61 Irish support for General Franco acted, therefore, as a powerful solvent of the Jewish-Irish dialogue that had characterized East End politics hitherto. The neutrality of the Irish Free State during the Second World War further strengthened the Jewish view that the 260</page><page sequence="13">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart Irish had no desire to fight international fascism, and the wartime anti Communism of the Catholic priesthood in the East End drove the wedge between the Irish and the Jews deeper still.62 These developments inevitably affected the stability of the political machinery Morry Davis had constructed, since his position as Labour Leader in Stepney depended on maintaining the support of his Irish colleagues. The need to preserve this support led him to adopt some strange and controversial postures. Davis took very little active part in combatting the fascist menace in Stepney in 1936. In July he had spoken at an anti-fascist gathering at Victoria Park, Hackney, and after the 'battle' of Cable Street had written an indignant letter to the Home Secretary.63 In February 1937 he and three other Jewish councillors voted to permit the British Union of Fascists to hold a meeting in Limehouse Town Hall.64 During the tense atmosphere of 1936 one of the most forthright champions of Jewish rights locally had been the then mayor, Helena Roberts. Councillor Roberts was Jewish by birth but Christian by conversion; in proportion as she sought to obtain a more even-handed approach by the police, so Davis seems to have taken umbrage against her - to the extent, in July 1938, of using a procedural device to prevent her proposing a committee of inquiry into allegations of police brutality against anti-fascists.65 That same year Davis attempted to block the appointment of his fellow Stepney Labour councillor Henry Solomons as the first secretary of the London Area Council of the Board of Deputies' Defence Committee, on the grounds that Solomons, a man of emphatic left-wing tendencies, harboured Soviet sympathies.66 By then, readers of the local press were becoming used to allegations of inefficiency and corruption in the affairs of the Stepney Council. At the end of 1936 these concerned the work of the Stepney Public Cleansing Committee.67 In 1938 there was a political storm at the Town Hall arising from charges of incompetence in relation to the provision of air-raid shelters, for which Davis, as official 'Air Raid Precautions Controller', was responsible.68 Not only were the allegations well founded; they were accompanied by strong rumours of bribery.69 Davis had also become an embarrassment at the LCC. Dr Bernard Homa, grandson of the famous Rabbi A. Werner of the Machzike Hadath Synagogue in Brick Lane (affiliated to the Federation), and since 1934 a Labour member of the LCC for Central Hackney, has recalled being asked by Herbert Morrison, Labour's political boss at County Hall, to intervene after Davis had demanded money from the owners of an East End public house as the price for attending to some LCC matter for them.70 In October 1940 Morrison, then Minister of Home Security in Churchill's wartime coalition government, bowed to local pressure by stripping Davis of his Civil Defence role and 261</page><page sequence="14">Geoffrey Alderman appointing in his stead a Controller directly responsible to central government.71 The Stepney Labour Party was split on pro-and anti-Davis lines.72 It was to his Irish friends in the Stepney Council Chamber that Davis had to turn for support in dealing with his Jewish critics, such as the well-known activist 'Tubby' Rosen.73 These events reacted, of course, on Davis's leadership of the Federation of Synagogues. He had used his powers under the constitution of 1934 with a cynical and comprehensive disregard of the most fundamental tenets of democratic practice. Mild criticism of the failure to hold proper elections was voiced at a General Council on 30 June 1938.74 In 1939 the criticism became more intense. One member of the General Council likened Davis's conduct to 'Hitler business', while another, the future President Jack Goldberg, 'begged him to fix a date' for the election of a new General Council.75 An organized opposition was formed, in which Dr Homa played a leading role, and what Davis termed 'unofficial meetings' were held. On 14 May 1939 Davis summoned a meeting of presidents of Federation synagogues, before whom he repeated an earlier pledge that elections for a new General Council would be held that year.76 He and his supporters cleverly turned the meeting into a trial of the 'Constitutional Group', who were accused of putting their own interests above that of the Federation, and of giving ammunition to the enemies of the Federation, among which the Jewish Chronicle, which had carried reports of the opposition to the Davis regime, was accorded a high place of priority. The presidents appeared satisfied with Davis's excuses; one of them was even persuaded to make a public recantation of his former critical views.77 Members of the General Council were not so easily satisfied. Dr Homa and his friends were able to insist on a meeting of the Council, held on 13 June 1939 and attended by some 209 delegates. In a powerful speech Dr Homa declared that 'the constitution of the Federation had been violated. Notices of Motion had never appeared on the Agenda; two requisitions [for a General Council] have been ignored . . . There is too much intimidation abroad'; furthermore, Dr Homa 'protested against the non-attendance of the Hon. Officers to a summons from the Beth Din'.78 But at the end of a heated and angry debate, the Constitutional Group was defeated by 99 votes to 78. How is this defeat to be explained? In part, I think, it was because there was a great deal of genuine support for Davis's exertions on behalf of the Federation and of Jewry at large. We must remember that there was no obvious and undisputed alternative to Davis as President at this time, since Dr Homa was not universally admired in Federation circles, and in fact never succeeded in gaining election as its President.79 But the reference in Dr Homa's speech of 13 June 1939 to 'intimidation' must also be slotted 262</page><page sequence="15">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart into the equation. Referring to the support for the World Jewish Congress which the Federation gave at the Board of Deputies, the Board's President, Neville Laski, explained to his American friend Felix Warburg in 1936 that Federation Deputies 'have to vote as their master, the President [i.e. Davis], dictates for a variety of reasons'.80 In particular, members of the Federation's General Council who were minded to oppose Davis knew that he was accustomed to threaten increases in the rateable values of business premises in the borough; in this way many of his opponents were, it seems, cowed into silence.81 Though he had survived the vote of 13 June 1939, Davis could sense that his position in the Federation was no longer totally secure and, once war had broken out, he moved swiftly, using the hostilities as an excuse to postpone new elections and later, on 10 November 1940, persuading the General Council to hand over to the Executive total control of the Federation's affairs.82 The following month a meeting of synagogue presidents with the Executive agreed that 'all vacancies on the Executive be filled by the Executive', because, it was alleged, of 'the inadvisability of calling delegates' meetings at the present time'. In the immediate context of the war and the Battle of Britain these extraordinary steps might have been justified for a very limited period. In fact the General Council met several times during the war: for example on 9 May 1943, to discuss the forthcoming triennial elections to the Board of Deputies, which the Zionists, supported by Davis, were determined to 'pack', and again on 9 September 1943, when no less than 171 delegates managed to assemble to discuss a dispute with the United Synagogue over claims for war damage to synagogues. But the Council was never permitted to discuss new elections. Morry Davis, in short, used the excuse of war to extinguish the representative nature of the Federation of Synagogues, and to turn it instead into an instrument of his own will. By the early years of the war the smell of bribery, corruption and intimidation that had come to surround the activities of Morry Davis was very strong indeed. In conversation with me on 29 August 1985 the late Dr Stanley Chazen, who knew Davis well in the 1930s, referred to him as 'a crook'; to the late Mr Joseph Cymerman (interviewed on 8 December 1985) he was an 'absolute dictator'. It is the view of Jerry Long that Davis was, by the outbreak of the Second World War, under police investigation: 'I think they were after him [Mr Long told me on 6 July 1989] because there was some fraud going on in the Borough Council'. If so, no charges were ever brought. That Davis had substantial reserves of communal and political strength was not in doubt. He took steps to make Federation money available to subsidize the provision of kosher food for evacuees, and to 263</page><page sequence="16">Geoffrey Alderman enable Talmud Torahs to reopen during the war.83 He saw to it that the Federation made the British Government an interest-free war loan of ?5000. At the Board of Deputies he continued to make himself useful in a variety of ways as a member of the LCC: in dealing with problems arising from the establishment of a Christian missionary school in Hackney, for example, and in attending to the dietary requirements of Jewish children attending evacuated LCC schools.84 His hold on the Stepney Labour Party was still strong. It was Davis himself who moved a resolution at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Stepney Borough Council in November 1943 condemning Herbert Morrison's decision to release Oswald Mosley from detention.85 And Davis managed to have himself re-elected as Labour Leader on the Borough Council even as he awaited trial at the Old Bailey during the second half of 1944.86 On 16 August 1944 Davis, then living at 30 Rostrevor Avenue, Stamford Hill, was involved in a bizarre incident at Hendon underground-railway station. He tried to avoid prosecution for alleged non-payment of a railway fare by inciting an employee of Stepney Borough Council to issue him with a false National Identity Card.87 Davis had in fact paid his fare, but had mislaid his ticket, and appears to have panicked in consequence. Something of his true nature had, perhaps, come to the very public surface at last. Neither his position as Labour Leader on Stepney Council, nor evidence as to his good character from Henry Berry, Vice Chairman of the LCC, and from Walter Edwards, the Labour MP for Stepney, could save him from a 6-months' prison sentence (24 November 1944). The Davis era had come to an abrupt but not inappropriate end. How is one to evaluate his legacy? The man himself was full of contradictions: a socialist who brushed aside democratic principles; an orthodox Jew who paid no attention to a summons from a Beth Din; a communal leader who applied the resources of the Federation to many worthy and altruistic purposes, but who at the same time seemed to have little regard for the Federation's public image, and still less for its internal sensitivities; a Labour politician whose leadership brought obloquy on the Party in Stepney, and whose political activities acquired the dimensions of a scandal. Two consequences of Davis's career stand out. His presidency of the Federation brought it to unprecedented heights in Anglo-Jewry, but plunged it also to new depths, making the task of post-war reconstruction, which would have been considerable in any case, infinitely more difficult. His leadership of the Labour Party in Stepney repelled many non-Jews and Jews alike and was, in my view, partly responsible for the strength of Communist politics in East London just before, during and immediately 264</page><page sequence="17">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart after the Second World War. In particular, his removal through imprisonment resulted in severe damage to the image of Labour in East London; it took several years for the Stepney Labour Party to recover from this episode, and while it was doing so the Communist Party was able to reap a predictable harvest in terms of seats both on the Stepney Council and on the LCC.88 It is as well to remember, however, that Davis was surrounded by admirers and not a few sycophants. Although within the Federation grave misgivings were voiced, as we have seen, neither the man, Morry Davis, nor the methods to which he resorted were ever publicly condemned by the communal organizations of Anglo-Jewry. The Jewish Chronicle campaigned against him, but overreached itself in 1937 and admitted its error in a subsequent libel action.89 It is astonishing to recall that in the early 1950s Davis was brazen enough to attempt to regain office in the Federation, and that although this ambition was doomed to failure, he managed to be re-elected to the General Council and to find other Council members willing to support his candidature as President in 1955.90 Davis was a paradox - a series of paradoxes. Did these, perhaps, betray a tormented soul, and can we, in tracing the extraordinary final years of his public career, detect signs of the mental instability that some say afflicted him in later life? I know that Mr Reif, his executor, does not agree that Davis suffered in this way.911 keep an open mind. Morry Davis was just fifty years old when he began his gaol sentence. In his later years he became a recluse, plagued by illness and loneliness. He was a regular worshipper at the Stamford Hill Beth Hamedrash, where a few members of the congregation took it on themselves to befriend and care for him.92 He died in a private nursing home in Golders Green, on 15 March 1985, in his ninetieth year, and is buried next to his parents at Edmonton. On his tombstone the word 'Councillor' is mis-spelt. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For permitting access to archival material in their possession, I am grateful to American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati (Ohio USA), the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Office of the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, the Federation of Synagogues, the Greater London Record Office, the Public Record Office (Kew) and Tower Hamlets Central Library. I must also record my thanks to Dr Robert Fitzgerald and Dr Sharman Kadish, who as my Research Assistants have been of invaluable help in the gathering of material on which this paper is based. 265</page><page sequence="18">Geoffrey Alderman NOTES 1 G. Alderman, London Jewry and London Politics 1889-1986 (London 1989) 48-9. 2 East London Observer (hereafter ELO) 15 Nov. 1930, p.4. 3 Joseph Davis *s naturalization file is in the Public Record Office, HO 144/387/B 20364. I infer that Joseph had been married abroad from the fact that no record of any marriage authorization exists in the archives of the Chief Rabbinate of the United Hebrew Congregations in London. 4 East London Advertiser (hereafter ELA) 30 March 1940, p.l. 5 ELA 29 Oct. 1921, p.5; 28 Oct. 1922, p.3. 6 See Post Office London Directory and ELA 12 March 1927, p.8; 19 March, p.4. 7 When he appeared before the Hendon Magistrates in 1944 the court was told that he had a private income; his assets at death (1985) totalled ?157,368 before tax: Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JO 20 Oct. 1944, p.18; 21 Nov. 1986, p.28. 8 A memorial inscription to his mother was added after his death, and I supplied Mr Reif with details of his mother's Hebrew name: interviews with Mr Reif, 23 Oct. 1986 and 14 Nov. 1989. 9 ELO 1 June 1918, p.3. 10 On Tobin see ELA 28 Jan. 1922, p.3, and E. R. Smith, 'Jews and Politics in the East End of London, 1918-1939', in D. Cesarani (ed.) The Making of Modern Anglo Jewry (Oxford 1990) 151. 11 ELO May 1920, p.5; on the Jewish deportations, which began at the end of Sept. 1917, see Alderman (see n.l) 61. 12 K. Harris, Attlee (London 1982) 42. 13 ELA 29 Oct. 1921, p.5. 14 ELA 12 Nov. 1921, p.5; 24 June 1922, p.6; see also Smith (see n. 10) 154. 15 ELA 28 Nov. 1921, p. 5. 16 EM 17 June 1922, p.8. 17 ELA 3 Jan. 1925, p.6; 11 Jan., p.3; 15 Jan. 1927, p.3; 28 July 1928, p. 8; 24 Nov., p. 3; 26 Oct. 1929, p.2. 18 ELA 15 Nov. 1930, p.4. 19 ELO 11 Nov. 1922, p. 3; 13 Nov. 1926, p.3. 20 Interviews with Mrs Rose Long, 16 June and 6 July 1989; details of Hannah Long's career are to be found in the Cork Evening Echo of 15 Nov. 1979, p. 10, and I am grateful to Mrs Long for drawing my attention to this item. 21 A. J. Kushner, 'British antisemitism in the Second World War* (PhD thesis, University of Sheffield 1986) 279; Smith (see n.10) 160. 22 ELO 1 April 1939, p.6. In his speech accepting the Mayoralty in 1937, Long confessed that he owed 'a good deal of my political education to two people, Councillor Davis and ex-Councillor Jack Sullivan*: ELA 13 Nov. 1937, p.l. 23 G. Alderman, The Federation of Synagogues 1887-1987 (London 1987) 43-4,53. 24 See generally S. Kadish, '"The Letter of the 'Ten"*: Bolsheviks and British Jews*, in J. Frankel (ed.) Studies in Contemporary Jewry IV (Jerusalem 1988) 96 112. 25 Alderman (see n. 23) 56. 26 Federation of Synagogues (hereafter FS) Minute Book No. 3. 27 Ibid. See also D. Cesarani, 'The Transformation of Communal Authority in, Anglo-Jewry, 1914-1940*, in D. Cesarani (ed.) (see n. 10) 123. 28 Alderman (see n. 23) 57. 29 FS, Minute Book No. 3; it was at this meeting that Davis became a member of the Board of Deputies. 30 Alderman (see n.23) 57. 31 A. Newman, The United Synagogue 1870-1970 (London 1977) 216. 32 Alderman (see n. 23) 41, 58. 33 FS, Minute Book No. 3: special meeting of the Presidents and the Executive, 15 Aug. 1934. 34 Ibid. General Council, 24 Sept. 1935. 35 Ibid. Meeting of Presidents, 14 May 1939. 36 Alderman (see n.23) 58. 37 FS, Minute Book No. 3: meeting of Board of Delegates, 8 April 1929; A. M. Hyamson, The Jjondon Board for Shechita 1804-1954 (London 1954) 72. 38 Alderman (see n. 23) 60-1. 39 FS, Minute Book No. 3: meeting of General Council, 9 Jan. 1936. 40 The H a' avarah (the transfer 266</page><page sequence="19">M. H. Davis: the rise and fall of a communal upstart agreement between the Jewish Agency and the Nazi government of Germany) conflicted with the principle of a boycott, to which German Jewry was opposed. See D. Cesarani, 'Zionism in England 1917-1939' (DPMI thesis, University of Oxford 1986) p.354, and American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati (hereafter AJA), Felix Warburg Papers, 293/1: Minutes of meeting of the Joint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association, 28 June 1933. 41 G. Alderman, The Jewish Community in British Politics (Oxford 1983) 121; FS, Minute Book No. 3: Special Board Meeting, 9 July 1933. See also the correspondence between Davis and Chief Rabbi Dr J. H. Hertz, 23-5 Sept. 1935, in the Hertz Papers, Office of the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, General Correspondence, Misc. D. folder, files D-G; Hertz urged that 'the boycott must go on', but declined 'officially and openly' to join it. 42 Alderman (see n. 23) 60; FS, Minute Book No. 3: balance sheet for 1929-30. 43 Alderman (see n. 23) 59. 44 C. Roth, The Federation of Synagogues 1912-1937 (London 1937) 30. 45 Alderman (see n. 23) 61. 46 Greater London Record Office (hereafter GLRO), LCC Minutes, 19 March 1918. 47 Ibid. 6 July 1920. 48 Archives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (hereafter BD) C13/9. 49 Ibid. Memorandum undated but c. January 1933. 50 On Salmon, see The Times 17 Sept. 1941, p.7; JC19 Sept. 1941, p.8. 51 BD, A19: Minutes of Meeting of the Board, 15 March 1925; JC 20 March 1925, pp. 9,19. 52 BD, E3/42 (I): Davis to Board, 5 April 1925. 53 BD, A3/2: Minutes of Meeting, 21 March 1926: Joint Report of the Education and Law and Parliamentary Committees. 54 Nettie Adler was the unmarried daughter of the late Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler, and Progressive member of the LCC for Central Hackney; Percy Harris was both Liberal MP and Progressive LCC member for South-West Bethnal Green; Lewis Silkin was elected to the LCC as Labour member for South-East Southwark in 1925, and was a close associate of Herbert Morrison. 55 BD, E3/42 (I): Percy Cohen to E.M. Rich (LCC Education Department), 12 Dec. 1926. 56 GLRO, LCC Minutes, 17 July 1928; LCC/MIN/3467: Minutes of the General Purposes Sub-Committee of the Education Committee, 30 Jan. 1928; ELO 8 Dec. 1928, p.6; see also the correspondence in BD, E3/94, Nov-Dec. 1928. 57 Alderman (see n. 1) 88. In modifying its employment policy, the L.CC had done no more than fall into line with the policy of central government in relation to the civil service. 58 ELO 21 July 1934, p.5; BD, B4/L02 contains correspondence between the Board, Dayan Gollop, Lady Spielman, Sir Isadore Salmon and the LCC (Sept. 1938-Jan. 1939) relating to the continued refusal of the County Council to admit alien children to its Central schools. On the general continuation of the scholarship restrictions after 1945 see GLRO, ED/HFE/3/2: Report by Education Officer, 11 April 1956. Elaine Smith's assertion (see n. 10) 154, that Davis and the Board were successful in having the scholarship restrictions removed in 1928 seems, in view of this evidence, very wide of the mark. 59 ELO 23 March 1935, p. 5; 22 June, p.4; BD, C13/1/11: Minutes of Law and Parliamentary Committee, 14 Feb. 1933. 60 At the time of his election as Mayor of Stepney Davis was not only Vice-President of the Jewish National Fund in England, but also a member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. There had been some talk of his being adopted as Labour candidate to fight the Whitechapel by-election of Nov-Dec. 1930, but this possibility never materialized: ELO 15 Nov. 1930, p.6. 61 C. Holmes, Anti-Semitism in British Society 1876-1939 (London 1979) 212. 62 Kushner (see n. 21) 242. 63 JC17 July 1936, p.32; 30 Oct., p.17. 64 EL4 27 Feb. 1937, p.l. 65 ELO 2 July 1938, pp. 1,7; JC 8 July 1938, p.40. 66 BD,C6/3/16/5andlO. 67 EL4 1 Dec. 1936, p. 5. 68 ELA 22 Oct. 1938, p. 8; 13 May 1939, p.l. 69 K. Brill (ed.) John Groser: East London Priest (Oxford 1971) 151-3. 70 Interview with Dr Horn a, 15 Sept. 267</page><page sequence="20">Geoffrey Alderman 1987. 71 ELA 2 Dec. 1940, p. 1; Tower Hamlets Central Library, Minutes of Stepney Borough Council, pp. 1998-9: Extraordinary Meeting, 9 Nov. 1940. 72 ELA 26 Nov. 1938, p. 1; for early signs of the split see ELA 12 Dec. 1936, p. 5; 19 Dec., p.2; 2 Jan. 1937, p.4. 73 EM 6 Jan. 1940, p. 5. 74 FS, Minute Book No. 3. 75 Ibid. General Council, 2 March 1939. 76 Ibid. Meeting of Presidents, 14 May 1939. 77 Alderman (see n. 23) 66. 78 FS, Minute Book No. 3: Special Meeting of the General Council, 13 June 1939. 79 Alderman (see n. 23) 70. 80 AJA, Felix Warburg Papers, 328/11: Laski to Warburg, 26 May 1936. 81 I base this statement on interviews (conducted in Nov. and Dec. 1985) with Mr A. B. Olivestone and the late Mr J. L. Cymerman, lifelong activists in the Federation and early opponents of the Davis regime. 82 FS, Minute Book No. 3: General Council, 10 Nov. 1940. 83 Alderman (see n. 23) 68. 84 BD, E2/54: S. Brotman (Secretary, Board of Deputies) to Davis, 20 Feb. and 20 March 1940. 85 Tower Hamlets Central Library, Minutes of Stepney Borough Council, p.2756, 24 Nov. 1943; ELA 26 Nov. 1943, p.l. 86 ELO 1 Dec. 1944, pp. 1,2. 87 Ibid. JC 20 Oct. 1944, p. 8; 1 Dec. 1944, p.9; The Times 25 Nov. 1944, p. 2. 88 Alderman (see n. 1) 98 89 The Times 5 Feb. 1938, p.4. 90 FS, General Council Minute Book, 1945-63; his candidature was of course unsuccessful 91 Interview with Mr Reif, 23 Oct. 1986. 92 See the compassionate obituary of him in the JC 12 April 1985, p.18, written by Mr Michael Goldman, the then Secretary of the Federation of Synagogues. 268</page></plain_text>