In Memoriam: Raphael James Loewe 1919-2011

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In many ways, Raphael Loewe was, for much of his life, a microcosm of Anglo-Jewish intellectual history and values, as far as they evolved in the nineteenth century and at least the first half of the twentieth. His younger years were characterized by descent from a renowned family, a classical edu- cation at a well-known public school and a rigid training in prose and poetic composition and translation. Early adulthood saw close connections with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as active service in the British army in Africa and Italy. His religious approach constituted an attachment to a moderate form of traditional Judaism that did not rule out an active sym- pathy for other interpretations of the faith. He always had a suspicion of any coldly professional approach to study and education and often displayed an enthusiasm for a more personal commitment to learning, almost as a greatly loved hobby. His distinct preference was for quiet modesty over noisy self- promotion.

How appropriate, then, that the infant Raphael James, born to Herbert and Ethel Victoria (née Hyamson) Loewe, first saw the light of day in the British Raj, having entered the world in Calcutta on 16 April 19 19. Equally apt was the illustrious heritage in which he was reared. His great grandfather, Louis Loewe, had been the secretary, adviser and scholar companion to the Anglo- Jewish notable, Sir Moses Montefiore, and his grandfather, James, had been a banker, with Jewish scholarly interests, who had hosted Theodor Herzl during the latter's early efforts to create and firmly establish political Zionism. However, it was Raphael's father, Herbert Martin James Loewe, whose scholarly and religious impact remained with his son throughout his life and who always received from him, after Herbert's death no less than before it, the highest level of filial piety, admiration and recognition. Herbert taught in various capacities at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London before being appointed permanently to teach Rabbinics at Cambridge, which he successfully did from 1931 until his early demise in 1940. It was he who educated Raphael in Hebrew and Jewish matters while he was a pupil at the Dragon School in Oxford and then at the Leys in Cambridge. The mastery and memorization of literary gems, the importance of educational discipline as well as intellectual self-discipline, and the close care to be applied to the interpretation of texts were lessons learnt both at home and at school. I recall Raphael telling me about one his teachers from the Leys who was still alive in 2009 and with whom, as loyal pupil, he was still anxious to make contact. Those lessons stood him in good stead when, after winning an open scholarship in classics at St John's College, Cambridge, in 1937, he spent a few months before going up in teaching English at the Yavneh School for Jewish boys and girls in Cologne. Throughout his career he applied, honestly and fearlessly, the well tried methods of Classical schol- arship to Hebrew

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