Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 6 - February 09, (1919)

Hotel Meurice, Rue de Rivoli, Paris

Dear Family,-

We’ve just arrived in Paris and Dr. Friedenwald is in the midst of a private conference with Dr. Weitzman, who is Zionist’s biggest diplomat and politician. So I will have time to recount our last three days.

Friday last, Dr Rubinow and I set out to see London. We went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and were duly appreciative of its age and splendour. It is really one of the few Cathedrals I’ve ever seen which is an artistic unit inside and out. There is no gaudiness or cheapness or lack of taste so evident in the usual cathedral. From there we went to Westminster and spent several hours wandering about and remembering history. In here is some of the prettiest bits of stone work I’ve ever seen. The wall against the coronation chair, which is built around Jacob’s stone pillow, is carved entirely of stone. And it is done as delicately as the most delicate bit of woodwork. It is truly a masterpiece.

That evening we went to theatre, but the English sense of humor is most pathetic.

Saturday we started in company with Dr. Friedenwald to walk to the British Museum. But en route we stopped off to see Dr. S. Levin who is not well, and spent the morning there. We had lunch at a nice little French restaurant in Soho and headed for home to pack – as we had number of engagements in the evening.

At four oclock we issued forth in company with Miss Shapiro to visit Mrs. Weitzman for tea. She lives in Kensington. Bravely we set out. After walking some little time we inquired the distance. “Oh! A mile an’a half”. Fifteen minutes later we received the same answer. But eventually we arrived – with faces and fingertips frosty (the temp. is about -15 or -20F below). She proved to be a very nice woman with a very attractive home and son. Russian, she speaks perfect English, with just a trace of accent. We remained until about seven we started out to the other end of town, by bus this time, to Achad Ha’am’s. Mr. Robison went with us. We finally found our destination and gratefully grouped ourselves around an hospitable open fire in his study. Several moments later he joined us.

He is a very short man, below the average. He has sharp, clean cut features, very little hair and blue eyes. He greeted Dr. F most enthusiastically and launched immediately into a lengthy discussion of the future. His views are most optimistic – he feels that given any freedom at all to act in Palestine it will itself grow and flourish. After a most pleasant hour we left for Mr. Herbert Bentwich’s* home. He is a lawyer of some note in London and is also one of England’s initial Zionists. He has seven daughters and two sons. – all of whom shine by some accomplishment. One of the sons is a major in the British Army in Palestine and has just been appointed to some judicial position which will keep him permanently in Jerusalem. One daughter is a Red Cross nurse in Palestine, one is a painter, one is a cellist, one is a violinist of no little ability who every year gives a number of very successful concerts.

When we arrived here there was a small party in progress. We were most cordially received and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Several daughters and friends performed – everything from piano solos to string quartets – and all well done. Except for the fact that most of the rooms of the house were so cold one could see his breath we would have gladly stayed till the end. As is we left. You know the English have an aversion to steam heat – and now that coal is scarce open fireplaces are too expensive.

This morn we left at nine thirty, crossed a most calm and placid but icy cold channel, and arrived in Paris seven o’clock. I am most thankful for my leather vest and heavy overcoat. As is only my fingers and toes (in spite of the woollen sox) get cold.

Food is very reasonable here. Our first meal in France was in the little station at Boulogne – enclosed is menu.

Ah for the balmy air of Palestine. The chances are we will leave for Italy in three or four days.

Lots of Love,


Our party to Paris consisted of Dr. Rubinow, Dr.Eder, who has been living in Palestine, Dr. F. and Messrs. Szold, Robison and myself

Weitzmann, Vera:- b. Russia 1882 – d.1966; wife of Haim Weizmann. Founder of WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) while in England; active in Youth Aliya, Magen David Adon; aid for Israeli disabled veterans.

Achad Ha’am (Asher Zvi Guisberg):- b. Russia 1856 – d. Palestine 1927; early member of Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) founded in 1882; essayist; Zionist, advocate of Palestine as the national spiritual center of world Jewry though not necessarily a political state.

Bentwich, Herbert:- b. England 1856 – d. London 1932; Influential British Zionist; member of the Jewish Delegation to the Paris Peach Conference after W.W.I; cellist daughter, Thelma, married to Palestine founder of musical activity there; mother of Shoshana Israeli.

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