Dr. Cecil Roth, nine times President of the Jewish Historical Society of England, died on 21 June 1970, aged 71. It has for long been the custom of the Jewish Historical Society for the death of any of its prominent members to be marked by memorial tributes at the next following meeting of the Society. Few members can claim to have been as prominent in the Society's affairs, and over so long a period, as Dr. Roth, especially with his record in its highest office. The occasion to pay the tributes came less than a month after his death, on 12 July 1970, during the first Conference, held in London, of the American Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish Historical Society of England. It was, in the circumstances of Dr. Roth's life and activities, a particularly appro? priate occasion. At the beginning of the first evening meeting, which was presided over by the President of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Sir Alan Mocatta, o.b.e., those present stood in silent tribute, and memorial addresses were delivered by Rabbi Dr. Abram V. Goodman, President of the American Jewish Historical Society, Mr. Raphael Loewe, and Dr. Vivian D. Lipman. These tributes are printed below.
Chairman of the Conference Committee,
Jewish Historical Society of England.
It is with a sense of our great loss that we do honour to one of the rare spirits in the realm of Jewish scholarship, Cecil Roth. He was part of a succession of learned Anglo-Jewish figures, and I, as an American, can say what Britons might hesitate to voice?that England has produced far more than her numbers might justify in the field of j?dische Wissenschaft.
Forty-five years ago, the late Stephen S. Wise was bringing a group of distinguished scholars from all over the world to serve on the faculty of his newly founded Jewish Institute of Religion. In London his eyes fastened on a tall, gangling youth, fresh from Oxford, who had won his laurels for his work on the last Florentine republic. And so Cecil Roth came to America to lecture to graduate classes in Jewish history.
The students whose eyes he opened were almost as old as he was. I was one of those who first heard him, sitting enthralled as he des? cribed the catacombs of Venosa, the community of Portuguese refugees established by the Medici at Livorno, and the denizens of the Venetian ghetto who dwelt in the shadow of the doges. We learned how the only centres of Jewish life in France during the late Middle Ages developed in the neighbourhood of Avignon; and I was not satisfied until I had paid a pilgrimage to the synagogues at Gavaillon and Carpentras, the latter a Louis XV bandbox, which is a national treasure of France.
Personally I owe a debt to Dr. Roth for his encouragement to work in the field of American Jewish history. I bought and loved his books. My favourite