Lithuanian Jew in No10?
The ancestry of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is as charismatic as the man himself, and includes Sunni Muslims, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Protestant dissenters and even the British Royal Family itself. More importantly, he also has a Jewish line.
Boris’s mum, Charlotte Offlow Fawcett, now Mrs Johnson-Wahl, is the granddaughter of Elias Avery Lowe, a Jewish Russian-American paleographer, professor at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and a friend of Albert Einstein.
Elias, who was born in 1879 in Kalvarija, then part of the Russian Empire, married in Switzerland in 1911 an Ango-American, Helen Tracy Porter, of Princeton, New Jersey, known for her pioneering translations of the works of Thomas Mann.
His father, Chaim Lev Loew (later Charles), a silk merchant, had migrated from Moscow to the US, with his wife, Sarah Gitel Ragoler (later Sophia), and young family, arriving in New York City in 1891.
It is believed Sarah came from a distinguished rabbinical family, although this is unproven. Boris’ three times great grandparents were Schmaye Lev and Rachel Weiss, of Kalvarija.
Boris, the descendant of Lithuanian Jews, proudly affirmed his Jewish ancestry on a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in November 2015.
Doreen Berger, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain
Forum has an important legacy
I refer to Farid El Diwany’s letter [4 July] regarding the legacy of Sheikh Zaki Badawi, of the founders of the Three Faiths Forum.
Badawi and Dr Marcus Braybrooke, together with Sir Sigmund Sternberg, were visionaries who established the forum. My late husband, Sidney L. Shipton OBE, joined soon after, and their pioneering work was hailed as outstanding and recognised by peace loving people gobally.
Alas, these personalities are no longer with us, but I’m certain those now running the organisation are doing their best to continue their valuable and essential legacy of trying to bring the three Abrahamic faiths to a better understanding of each other.
And when was it more important than today?
Judith Shipton, By email
Civil war is now in full swing
Civil war has erupting in Labour. With the party showing fourth position in a recent YouGov poll, even the likes of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott are giving serious thought of abandoning the captain of the fast sinking ship.
It is time for the leader to relinquish his post for the sake of a party that is in danger of disappearing into history.
Stephen Vishnick, Tel Aviv
Transparent double standard
I’d like to make two points regarding Sidney Sands’ letter (Jewish News, 4 July). As to Jenny Tonge maintaining that “she is in no way anti–Jewish”, this is not “fair enough”. Antisemitism involves being anti-Jewish, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. She, like so many other politicians of our day, holds extremely troubling views, which is not “fair” at all. The headline, however, is spot on. For antisemites, it’s become standard practice to apply double standards to Israel. No other country in the world is judged so regularly, critically and negatively as regards anything that is said or done in her name.
Jenny Tonge and her ilk are in every way antisemitic with all that it entails. She may claim otherwise, but that’s the standard we’ve come to expect of such politicians.
J D Milaric, By email