Moshe Ish-Horow­icz

BORN PIOTRKOW-TRYBUNALSKI, POLAND, AU­GUST 22, 1922. DIED LON­DON, FE­BRU­ARY 27, 2008, AGED 85.

The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES -

APOWERFUL IN­FLU­ENCE in the de­vel­op­ment of Re­form Ju­daism in Manch­ester, Dr Moshe Ish-Horow­icz con­trib­uted a depth of rab­binic schol­ar­ship, love of Ju­daism and the sor­row of Holo­caust sur­vival.

A bril­liant stu­dent and ar­dent Zion­ist from a Gur cha­sidic fam­ily, he taught him­self He­brew in pre-war Poland. In 1936 he went to the Haifa Tech­nion in Bri­tish man­date Pales­tine to study civil en­gi­neer­ing, a de­ci­sion which saved his life.

Most of his fam­ily, in­clud­ing his par­ents, a sis­ter and a brother, per­ished at Tre­blinka, though other sib­lings sur­vived. Their tragedy and the ques­tion, “Where was God at Tre­blinka?” were the main­spring of his doc­toral the­sis 50 years later.

His old­est brother, a tal­mu­dic ge­nius, had run away from home to get a sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion and study tex­tiles. The out­break of the Sec­ond World War blocked his re­turn from a busi­ness visit in Eng­land. Af­ter the war he learned that his wife and child had per­ished.

Set­tling in Manch­ester, where he re­mar­ried and had three sons, he of­fered Moshe the op­por­tu­nity to study for a sec­ond en­gi­neer­ing de­gree at Manch­ester Univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (now UMIST).

In 1947, a few months be­fore Is­rael’s dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence, Moshe came to Manch­ester with his wife, Hava née Ber­man, whom he mar­ried in Jerusalem in 1946. He com­bined study with work­ing for his brother, be­fore branch­ing out on his own in tex­tiles.

He came to Jack­son’s Row (Re­form) Syn­a­gogue through its cheder, which not only taught in mod­ern He­brew pro­nun­ci­a­tion while tra­di­tional shuls re­tained the old Ashke­nazi ac­cent, but had an in­spi­ra­tional teacher for his old­est son. He be­came a main­stay of the com­mu­nity, im­bu­ing it with his knowl­edge, in­tel­lect and in­tegrity. He was a guide and men­tor, es­pe­cially to the younger gen­er­a­tion.

He was pres­i­dent of Jack­son’s Row from 1974-76, helped found Sha’arei Shalom (North Manch­ester Re­form) Syn­a­gogue in 1977, sup­ported Meno­rah (Cheshire Re­form) Syn­a­gogue, and was ac­tive in the na­tional Re­form move­ment. He was said to sup­port at least five syn­a­gogues in Eng­land and three in Is­rael through mem­ber­ship.

He and his wife re­tained close ties with Is­rael through Tar­but (“Cul­ture” in He­brew), the Manch­ester He­brew Speak­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. Moshe was ac­tive in the JPA (Joint Pales­tine Ap­peal), fore­run­ner of the UJIA.

The cou­ple later spent long pe­ri­ods in Is­rael, where Moshe lec­tured on Jewish ethics and led classes for pros­e­lytes at Beit Daniel Pro­gres­sive Syn­a­gogue in North Tel Aviv.

Keep­ing open house in their Tel Aviv flat, he held re­mark­able Seder nights with eru­dite ex­pla­na­tions for non-Jewish guests and a Rus­sian trans­la­tion of the Hag­gadah for new im­mi­grants.

In Eng­land he wrote con­stantly about Jewish life and ethics in ar­ti­cles, pam­phlets and let­ters to the JC. He was a reg­u­lar and much-loved lec­turer at Lim­mud.

He wrote con­stantly about Jewish life and ethics. Jewish Law ver­sus Eq­uity (Halakhah ver­sus Ag­gadah) and Re­li­gious Tol­er­ance and Di­ver­sity in Ju­daism were pub­lished in the Jewish Law As­so­ci­a­tion’s Li­brary of Jewish Law, as was Right­eous­ness (Tsedek) and its Sig­nif­i­cance in Ju­daism, which of­fers some so­lu­tions to the prob­lem of the agu­nah, the “chained” wife. He con­trib­uted Ju­daism and Busi­ness Ethics to A Gen­uine Search (RSGB 1979).

At 70 he gained his PhD from Manch­ester Univer­sity. His dis­ser­ta­tion, Theod­icy as Ev­i­denced in Early Rab­binic Dis­cus­sions of the Flood, used tra­di­tional com­men­taries to tackle the prob­lem of good and evil, which never ceased to haunt him. Two years later he moved to Lon­don to be near his daugh­ters.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Hava; son, David; four daugh­ters, Ruth, Ju­dith, Miriam and Naomi; and nine grand­chil­dren.

Dr Moshe Ish-Horow­icz: asked tough eth­i­cal ques­tions

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