The Origins of the JFS House Names
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This article appeared in the JFS student magazine in 1963. We thought former and current students alike would be interested to read something about the people after whom the School houses are named. We have left this with the exact words and style used in 1963.
SOME BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES ON THE FOUR GREAT MEN WHOSE NAMES LIVE ON IN OUR HOUSE SYSTEM
MOSES ANGEL (1819-1898)
He was educated at H.Solomon’s Boarding School at Hammersmith and at University College School. After further study at University College, London, he became a bank clerk and then took up teaching. In 1840 he was appointed Master of the Talmud Torah department of the J.F.S., and, soon after, he was made Headmaster of the entire school. Under his inspiring leadership the School rapidly developed and in 1853 was placed under Government inspection. In the same year he instituted two Teacher-Training departments in the School. So outstanding an administrator was he that even the National Education Department sought his advice.
In 1883 a Vice-Headmaster, L.B. Abrahams , was appointed and four years later in 1887 Angel resigned as Headmaster and took on the less onerous task of “Principal”, Abrahams succeeding him as Headmaster of the School. Angel published several books, including one on the Torah in 1858. He was one of the first editors of the Jewish Chronicle in the early 1840’s. In this, he was associated with the then Haham, the Rev. David Meldola.
SELIG BRODETSKY (1888-1954)
Brodetsky settled in England as a child and became a pupil of the J.F.S. He then went to Cambridge and in 1908 achieved the great distinction of being bracketed “Senior Wrangler”, of which the London Jewish community was very proud. Later he become Professor of Applied Mathematics at Leeds University and wrote several books including a “Treatise on the Aeroplane” (1920), a study of “Sir Isaac Newton” (1929) and “The Meaning of Mathematics” (1929).
Since 1928 he had been a member of the Zionist Organisation, and he was in 1929 a founder member of the Jewish Agency. Professor Brodetsky had many important communal offices, indeed it is difficult to think of any which he did not at some time of another fill with distinction. Among these positions he was President of the Board of Deputies, President of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, President of the Ben Uri Gallery and President of the Association of University Teachers.
CHAIM WEIZMANN (1874-1952)
Born in Russia, he received his education at Pinsk and at the University of Berlin and Freiburg. He became a Lecturer in Chemistry at Geneva and Reader in Bio-Chemistry at Manchester University in 1904 at the early age of 30. In the First World War he was appointed Director of the Admiralty Research Laboratories where he discovered a brilliant process for making acetone, the basis of many high explosives. Between 1917 and 1930 and from 1935 to 1946 he was President of the World Zionist Organisation and in 1932 he became chairman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
His policy was always for co-operation between Britain and Palestine. In 1948 he became the President of the Provisional Council of the State of Israel and was sworn in as the first President of the State on 17 February 1949. There is in Rehovot a Scientific Institute which bears his name and commemorates this great honour. In 1949, too, he published his autobiography, “Trial and Error”.
ISRAEL ZANGWILL (1846-1926)
Born in London and educated at the Old J.F.S. he went on to London University. He was for a time a teacher at the J.F.S. However it was not long before he began to publish his masterly series of studies of Jewish life and history. “Children of the Ghetto” appeared in 1892, to be followed in 1893 by “Ghetto Tragedies”. The following year saw the publication of that classic “The King of Shnorrers”. In 1895 Herzl, while on a visit to London, so aroused Zangwill’s interest in Zionism that he founded and became the President of the ITO. As a result of his enthusiasm for Zionism, Woman’s Suffrage and other social movements, his writing suffered. This however does not affect his stature as a writer. His early works, literary studies, novels and plays were of sufficient merit to make him one of the important writers of the period.