Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Friends and Strategic Partners: An interview with Matthew Gould, British Ambassador to Israel

Binyamin Rose

Matthew Gould is the first Jew to serve as Britain’s ambassador to Israel, but he is not the first ambassador to invest time and effort to understand the interests and viewpoints of Israel’s growing chareidi community. In fact, he considers it an essential ingredient of how successful he will be in his job.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Matthew Gould’s grandfather was one of ten children of an Orthodox Polish Jew who made his living selling fruit juice from his horse and wagon in Warsaw. One day, his grandfather was walking home from yeshivah, along a path near his home, when he spotted what looked to be two Polish policemen beating up an elderly Jewish man.

As he drew closer, he discovered, to his horror, that the man under attack was his own father. Summoning up all of the strength of youth, he beat up his father’s attackers, but as a result, had to flee Poland to avoid prosecution, or worse.

He spent the next few years in various European and South American countries, plying his trade as an industrial knitting machine repairman, before eventually settling in Birmingham, England. The family history becomes a bit fuzzy here. Perhaps two or three of his nine other brothers and sisters eventually fled Warsaw before the Nazi occupation of World War II, but the others were never heard from again. 

Ambassador Gould related this aspect of his family history at a reception for select chareidi rabbanim, politicians, and media members, held at the Tel Aviv home of Reb Itche Schapira, son of former Knesset member Rabbi Avraham Yosef Schapira, z”l

At a follow-up interview a few weeks later at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, I asked Ambassador Gould what kind of impression his family history has made on him.

“One is that there’s a moral in this story about standing up for yourself, your family, and your people and that gives me a great deal of pride,” he said. “At a number of points in my family’s history, my ancestors have fought for their rights and the rights of the Jewish People. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was in the battle of Cable Street in London, where the Jews and the communists together fought a pitched battle with Oswald Mosely’s Blackshirts. I take some pride as well in the fact that we were part of that.

“My family has, particularly since the Holocaust, taken a different route religiously. We’re still very proud to be Jewish but we’re not part of the chareidi community. But I do look at the picture of my great-grandfather which I keep up on my wall and I do think he would have been surprised and rather proud to see me sitting down with sixteen leading rabbis from Israel’s chareidi community.”

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you