Friday, December 16, 2011

All for the love of Jews

From The Jewish Chronicle-

Earlier this year, a memorial stone was placed on the grave of an Anglican minister whose remains had lain unmarked in a north London cemetery for 80 years. The inscription reveals this minister to have perfectly exemplified the trait whose manifestation by the English forms the subject of Gertrude Himmelfarb's poignant book.

Curiously, his name goes unmentioned in Himmelfarb's history of "philosemitism in England from Cromwell to Churchill", as she subtitles her book.

The minister who so graphically exemplified the love of Jews was William Hechler. Heading the inscription on his stone is a line from Psalm 102: "When The Lord Shall Build Up Zion, He Shall Appear in His Glory". Below it, Hechler is characterised as "a Lover of God, His Word and His Ancient People; a Tireless Adversary of Anti-Semitism; and a Friend and Counsellor of Theodor Herzl".

You certainly do not have to be a Christian to be a philosemite, but it undoubtedly helps, especially if of that evangelical variety Hechler and so many other British and American Protestants have been.

Inspired by a speech by Lord Ashley, a prominent Victorian philosemite who does feature in Himmelfarb's book, protesting at the pogroms following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, Hechler travelled to the Ukraine where he spent a year helping homeless Jews, before relocating to Vienna as chaplain to the British embassy.

More here-

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