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Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Cost of Jewish Life

Rabbi.I.Herzog A "very important" letter from Rabbi Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Ireland, appealing for help to expose the Nazi persecution of German Jews has just been sold at auction for 3000 Euros  - about £2,600.
It was written on 01 May 1933 to Hugh Kennedy, the Chief Justice of Ireland and contains an early account of Nazi atrocities.
The handwritten manuscript went to auction on Saturday last - a sad piece of mistiming in my view as the auctioneers must have known that many Orthodox Jewish buyers would be fascinated by the sale.
A distraught Rabbi Herzog wrote:
'The position is going from bad to worse. We no longer cry out about the atrocities but I have it from an indubitable source that Jews are being killed in Germany every day, though with such devilish methodicity and "scientific" design and plan that it is difficult to speak of pogroms in Germany. Many Jews brought to the extreme end of despair are committing suicide. A very prominent Jewish jurist, one of the leading figures in German Jewry whom I know personally has exclaimed: "Would to Heaven that 5,000 Jews were killed in Germany in one open pogrom, for then the world might wake up!"'

The letter was accompanied by a list of 29 prominent Irish personalities, whom Rabbi Herzog - later Chief Rabbi of Israel - claimed would support his protest. They included Cardinal MacRory, Archbishop Gregg and  the poet, W.B. Yeats. Rabbi Herzog's  son, Chaim, became President of the State of Israel.

Whyte's auctioneers described the item(s) as being "on printed letterhead 27 by 22cm., 10.5 by 8.5in. Provenance: Hugh Kennedy; thence by descent Letter from Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Ireland to Chief Justice Kennedy. 1 May `1933. 4pp. all hand-written. Original envelope by registered mail to Kennedy's home at Newstead, Clonskeagh.

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