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Memorial Address: Redcliffe Nathan Salaman

<plain_text><page sequence="1">(II) REDCLIFFE NATHAN SALAMAN, f.r.s.,m.d. {President of the Jewish Historical Society of England, 1920-22) By The Rev. James W. Parkes, m.a., d.phil.1 IN the spring of 1934 I was staying in Cambridge with Herbert Loewe, when he told me that a distinguished member of Anglo-Jewry, Dr. Redcliffe Salaman, was anxious to meet the author of The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue. That 1 Delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England on Wednesday, 26th October, 1955.</page><page sequence="2">MEMORIAL ADDRESSES 297 afternoon I went out for the first time to Barley. When, a year later, I decided it was time to come home from Geneva, and was wondering where I should live, the delightful range of hills in which Barley nestled came to my mind. I looked for a house in the hills; and found one which, by pure coincidence, was only a quarter of a mile from Dr. Salaman's. So began a twenty-years' friendship which was one of the most precious accompaniments to life in that charming, but little known, corner of the English country? side with which three Presidents of the Jewish Historical Society are associated. But for the early death of Nina Salaman it would have been four. The hospitality of Homestall, the rather odd half-ancient, half-modern house which Dr. Salaman had filled with beautiful things, was unHmited; and there one would constantly meet Christian and Jewish scholars, visitors from Israel or America or else? where, and people of distinction in many walks of life. I think it was due largely to Dr. Salaman that the village acquired the name in the district of'the village of historians'. As a citizen of Barley I would like to emphasise the part which he played in local life. He was a true father of the village, and his time as much as his purse was always at the disposal of villagers who needed help or advice. His humour, humanity and worldly wisdom made the latter as valuable as the former was always generous. When I came to Barley he was the active chairman of the Parish Council. I shortly after became his vice-chairman, and in these days of revolutions it is amusing to add that when, after the war, the village had a revolution and replaced Dr. Salaman by his gardener and me by my handyman, neither of us troubled to be glad that Barley had no lamp-posts, nor did we flee across the county border to take refuge in a gun-boat on the Cam. Our successors came to us freely for advice or information, and we, in turn, always found them ready to listen to anything we had to say. Dr. Salaman had the unusual distinction of being a J.P. for over forty years, and for twenty-three of these he was chairman of the local bench, as well as a member of various higher authorities. As a magistrate he had the deserved reputation of being always more concerned with the offender than shocked at the offence, and anxious to restore rather than to punish. We shall never know in how many cases he himself helped privately in the first steps of restoration. Redcliffe Salaman was born on September 12, 1874, one of the twelve children of a prosperous London merchant, Myer Salaman. He was educated at St. Paul's School and then at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, of which he became an honorary Fellow just before his death. Choosing medicine as a career, he began to work at the London Hospital, but early developed pulmonary tuberculosis. He was told to retire to the country if he was to survive, if only for a few years. He came to Barley, and lived there for more than fifty. But it was his wife who looked for a house and found The Homestall, and he once told me that he was so ill at the time that he did not even see it, saying that it was she who would have to live there and not himself. In the event he survived her by more than thirty years, and saw a vigorous family of five children, sixteen grandchildren, not to mention great grandchildren, filling the house in which he expected to live so short a time. It was at Barley that, on the advice of his gardener, as he amusingly describes it in the introduction to his great work on the potato, he started to be interested in that vegetable. He had all the qualities of a great scholar; he was exceedingly modest, he was indefatigable in his research, and he took infinite trouble over the integrity, the exactitude and the literary elegance with which he presented his findings. Others, with more knowledge, have written of this aspect of his life and I will not seek to add to it. Although the occupations which I have described might well fill a lifetime of eighty</page><page sequence="3">298 MEMORIAL ADDRESSES years, yet Dr. Salaman was also vitally concerned with many aspects of the life of the Jewish people. In fact, Edith Hagger, his loyal secretary over many decades, confessed to me that in sorting out old files she was sometimes uncertain at first whether what she had in her hands dealt with Jews or potatoes. After all, both involve problems of heredity ! There was no concealment of his Jewishness, even though his rather old fashioned rationalism restricted the religious expression of it to abstinence from work on Yom Kippur?an abstinence which once had amusing consequences. For it was on Yom Kippur 1939 that we received our evacuated children. I was billeting officer and the Headmistress of the London children clamoured for the use of our ancient Town House as a class room. I said that I could not give it as billeting officer. I should have to refer it to the School Correspondent who, in turn, would have to get the permission of the Parish Council. The Headmistress expostulated that this would take weeks, but I assured her we did things better in Barley. Since I was school correspondent, and on that day acting chairman of the Parish Council, I could give her an immediate decision if she would stop talking and allow me time to think. She had the Town House and, needless to say, Dr. Salaman approved and took the greatest interest in the evacuees. He took a number into his own house, and was especially solicitous for the Jewish children who were among those who came to us. As a scientist he made a number of valuable contributions to the study of genetics as they affected Jews; as a doctor of medicine he was, from the very beginning, concerned with the Jewish Health Organisation, and with the provision of homes for the Jewish aged; as a prominent member of Anglo Jewry he was a life-long member of the Council of Jews' College ; he was instrumental in the establishment of the readership in rabbinics at Cambridge, and he was President of this society in 1922. Of special interest to the Society perhaps are the facts that he was responsible for collecting the Israel Zangwill Memorial Fund and, after his first wife's death, for the administration of the Arthur Davis Fund. Perhaps the two activities which were nearest to his heart were the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was an active member and treasurer of the former, and a governor of the latter. Even six months before his death he was planning to fly out to Jerusalem so as not to miss a meeting of the University Governors, and his work for refugee scholars was unremitting. He became a Zionist long before most of his particular stratum of Anglo-Jewry, and served with the Jewish soldiers in the first world war. Likewise in relation to refugees his interest and sympathy were especially keen because he had himself studied in the old liberal Germany that existed before the first world war. Redcliffe Salaman has the memorial which he would have desired, that in the fields to which he devoted his activity he has added to our knowledge and left the world a richer place for his passage through it, that his friends remember him with affection, and that innumerable human beings, whose orbits he touched in passing, remember him with gratitude.</page></plain_text>

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