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I Discover the 'Missing Link'

ManchesterThe donors’ board in the foyer Manchester House (Photos: Mike Horton)
Manchester this way

 Recently our son was walking in the Givat Ram grounds of the Hebrew University on the way to the library when he noticed a sign pointing to Manchester, one of the campus's original buildings, Manchester House, The Einstein Institute of Mathematics. Curious, he went inside and there on the wall was a plaque with the names of all the donors.

He forwarded a photo of the plaque to me. It was like going down memory lane. Most of the names conjured up well known Manchester faces from a generation ago. It appears that Manchester House was inaugurated in 1957, four years after a plot of land near to the then new Knesset was designated for the construction of the second Hebrew University Campus.

To fill you in on some historical details: the idea of the establishment of a University in Israel pre-dated the First Zionist Congress held in Basel in 1897. Professor Zvi Schapira raised the idea and in 1902 Dr. Chaim Weizmann proposed that a Jewish Institute of Higher Learning be erected in Jerusalem. The necessity and urgency for such an Institute was directly related to the limited places available for Jewish students in Western and Eastern European universities where strict quotas were enforced. By 1918 the foundation stones for the Hebrew University were laid on Mount Scopus and the arduous task of collecting funds began. Professor Albert Einstein gave his full support to the project and also helped in recruiting researchers and other professors. The University was active until the War of Independence in 1948. Mount Scopus fell to the Jordanian Arab League and access to the campus (and also to Hadassah Hospital) was stopped. A small group of soldiers remained on Mount Scopus to protect the buildings on the land that had been bought and paid for, until Jerusalem was reunified in 1967 after the Six Day War. After May 1948 the university students were left with nowhere to learn. Various places in the center of Jerusalem filled the void, including the ornate Terra Sancta College on the corner of Keren Hayesod and Azza Streets. By 1953 the Givat Ram plot, in the western section of Jerusalem, was chosen for the relocation of the University.

Chaim Weizmann and Albert Einstein ... will have met Abraham Moss (Photos: Wikipedia)
Bronze bust of Alderman Abraham Moss at Manchester House, Jerusalem

Alongside the donors` board inside the foyer of Manchester House are displayed copies of Albert Einstein's manuscripts, written in small neat handwriting, with his mathematical equations visible for anyone who can understand them. He bequeathed all his manuscripts to the University and also the Royalties in his name. It took a little while to fathom the connection between Albert Einstein and Manchester and then to this list of donors whom, although they were well respected members of the community, were far from being scholastic geniuses. The connection of course was Chaim Weizmann. Dr. Weizmann, the first President of the State of Israel, lived in Manchester on Birchfields Road in Withington, for 30 years, (1904-1934). He was a lecturer in Chemistry in Manchester University and was also one of the Founders of the Zionist Movement. It was through his influence and hard work that Lord Balfour published the milestone Balfour Declaration, exactly 101 years ago.

Chaim Weizmann also had an important influence on Manchester's Michael Marks and Israel Sieff, of Marks and Spencer's fame. They in turn were instrumental in establishing Manchester as a prominent bastion of Zionism. I have to say that by now I was beginning to feel like Sherlock Holmes unraveling one of his mysteries. But there was still one missing link. Who was the leader, the mover and the shaker who had the charisma and the energy to gather together this group of donors?

We paid Manchester House another visit to look around again for more clues. And there, to the side, was a bust of Alderman Abraham Moss (1898-1964), President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Lord Mayor of Manchester. An inscription above the sculpture stated that he was also a Governor of the Hebrew University and, both in Hebrew and in English, we read that the Hall was dedicated in his name.

Now the pieces of the puzzle were coming together. Albert Einstein, the great mathematician, was a good friend of Chaim Weizmann, the great chemist. Chaim Weizmann lived in Manchester and no doubt met Abraham Moss. Abraham Moss, who himself was an ardent Zionist and was held in high regard in the community, could easily enthuse and encourage people to make their mark in the establishment of the State of Israel.

Eventually understanding all the connections gave me goose-bumps, especially because Abraham Moss was my husband's uncle.

I have been recounting this, to anyone and everyone, with great excitement. I feel as if I have personally touched history. Could all those people in the 1950's really imagine that today many of their descendants would be living in Israel and learning at the Hebrew University, or that they would be walking in the hall of the building that, through their generosity, holds the priceless Einstein Manuscripts, and that because of their input, the Hebrew University has enabled eight of its Professors to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize? What an amazing achievement. And what vision these founding fathers had.

We would very much like to honor these donors and would be delighted to hear from any of their children or grandchildren especially those living in Israel. We are arranging an evening on Sunday July 7th in Manchester House, in Jerusalem. There will be a speaker to tell us more about the history of the events of the time and a small ceremony to commemorate the donors. And of course some light refreshments. This event is NOT a fundraiser. We would love as many people to come as possible so please contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or 054 440 4722 to let me know if you are interested in coming.

List of Donors Manchester House, HU

Sheila Ziff | Asna Goodman |Sidney & Agnes Balcome | G. Abelson | Bert Adler | J. Akerib |Noah Alexender | H. Amelan | M. Barclay | Councillor M. Baker | J. M. Bartle | Councillor H. Bergin | Maurice Bernstein |J. S. Black | Dr. I. Blain | D. Blank | A. J. Borin | Frank Cann | Bob Cassel | Mrs. P. Cassel | A. Cattan | Dr. T. H. Chadwick | Alderman Dr. W. Chadwick | A. M. Clayton | Leonard & Ami Cohen | A. Cover | M. H. Dobkin | D. Forster | R. Friend | J. Glassberg | D. Goldstone | Councillor S. C. Hamburger | Ivor Harris | R. Harris | J. M. Hyman | M. Hytner | S. Hytner | Joe Jackson | Alex S. Jacobs | Maurice Jaffe | E. Landsman | J. Lee | H. & C. Lefton | Harry Levy | S. S. & J. M. Levy | Aaron Lewis | Harry Lewis | M. H. Libbert | J. Lisberg | H. Livingstone | H. Marks | Harry Marks | Hyman Marks | Laurence Marks | Merton R. Marks | T. Margolis | F. Markson | M. Miller | J. Morgenstern | Dr. I. Keidan | A. Nadler | Mrs. M. Nahum | Dr. Julius Ubman | Michael Fidler J. P. | Councillor M.P. Pariser | M. Prax | H. Raphael | S. Roland | L. Rose | M. Rosenstraugh | J. Ross | Maurice Rubin | I. Sandler | J. M. & E. & V. Sassoon | B. Science | I. C. Shasha | I. Shindler | J. Simons | H. Smith | J. Sunlight | D. Suppree | A. Webber | L. Weidberg | H. Weinberg | Reuben Werner | Dr. P. I. Wigoder | Kiva Woolf

 

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Monday, 21 September 2020

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