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Sir Hermann Gollancz, 1852-1930

Herbert Loewe

<plain_text><page sequence="1"></page><page sequence="2">sir hermann gollancz. 263 Sir Hermann Gollancz, M.A., D.Lit, Rabbi, 1852-1930. By Herbert Loewe, M.A. Hermann Gollancz is too well known and too highly revered in the Anglo-Jewish community to make it necessary to recall his career in detail. Except for a short period in Manchester, he lived, worked, and died in London, and every stage in his full and fruitful life is personally familiar to his contemporaries, as it is accessible in the ordinary works of reference. To the man in the street he stands out as the first Jews' College student to gain the London Doctorate, the second minister of the United Synagogue to obtain the Rabbinical Diploma, and the first Rabbi in England to be knighted, unless, as Gollancz himself did, we accept Joseph Jacobs' somewhat doubtful " Sir Leon Morell" at face value. But the man in the street is probably unaware of the pre-Expulsion history of Anglo-Jewry, though it was a subject that lay very near the heart of Gollancz, and the three great achievements mentioned above suffice to preserve the memory of Gollancz as a truly remarkable scholar, pastor, and communal worker. Yet it is precisely with this feature of Gollancz's life, almost unknown to the man in the street, that the Jewish Historical Society is concerned. A glance at the bibliography of his published works (printed in his Personalia, 1928, p. 231) reveals that he was deeply interested in pre-Expulsion Jewish history, no less than in the Intermediate Period and the Return. The close connection of the Jewish Historical Society with University College, London, is repeated in Gollancz's career. Already in 1891 he was selected to represent the University of London at the International Congress of Orientalists held that year in London. This signal honour was his again in 1899, at the Rome Congress. In 1902 he was elected to the Goldsmid Professorship of</page><page sequence="3">264 SIR HERMANN GOLLANCZ. Hebrew at University College, when the late Professor Scbecbter vacated that chair on his translation to America. It is mournful to think that since Gollancz retired in 1924 this professorship, adorned by such distinguished names as Hurwitz and Marks and Schechter, should have become extinct. Gollancz held the presidency of the Jewish Historical Society in 1905-1906. Previously he had made his name as an Anglo Jewish historian by his " Ramble in East Anglia," where he elucidated many facts of importance in connection with Norwich, Ipswich and other towns of the district. He took part in the famous controversy that raged round Moyses Hall, Bury St. Edmunds, manfully main? taining his belief that it was a former Jewish synagogue against the heavy onslaughts of Trice Martin, Lionel Abrahams, Asher Myers and Frank Haes. And if at this lapse of time most historians have decided against Gollancz, his reputation as a scholar has not suffered. The question is a difficult one and no decision can be final. But his treat? ment of the facts must always compel admiration. Even more than by his speech and pen, Gollancz gave evidence of his love for Anglo-Judaica by practical means. It was largely due to his mediation, rendered possible by the close relations in which he stood to the Governing Body of University College, that the Mocatta Library became available to the public in the College building. The fact that the growth of the Library makes reorganisation necessary to-day and imposes so severe a burden upon the shoulders of our President, Mr. Gustave Tuck, testifies to the value of the Library as a place of research. Not only did Gollancz play a prominent part in the initial stages of this Library, but when he retired from his Chair in 1924 he supplemented the shelves by some thousands of volumes that he had carefully collected. When Gollancz's private books were sold, their paucity aroused comment. The reason was that the fruits of a lifetime spent in amassing rare pamphlets and valuable work? books for students had been given to the public use, to Jew and Christian alike. This was typical of Gollancz. Staunch Jew as he ever was, he was a universalist, and in his public work, social, charitable or scholarly, he knew no boundaries. And so, Jew and Christian alike, all who benefit by his own writings or by the use of his books at University College will honour his memory.</page><page sequence="4">SIR HERMANN GOLLANCZ. 265 Bibliography of Sir Hermann Gollancz on Anglo-Jitdaica. " A Bamble in East Anglia." 1894. Transactions, vol. ii. " A Further Paper on Moyses Hall." 1896. Transactions, vol. iii. " Anglo-Judaica." Presidential Address, January 28, 1906. Transactions, vol. vi. " A Contribution to the History of the Be-admission of the Jews." 1907. Transactions, vol. vi. " The Years 1189-1190 " (The York Massacres). Sermons and Addresses, 1909 vol. i. p. 532. " Re-Settlement Day." Ibid., p. 540.</page></plain_text>