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20 January 2017

Study 1 of 2: Rabbi Lionel Blue, by the Revd Toddy Hoare

Study 1 of 2: Rabbi Lionel Blue, by the Revd Toddy Hoare

Canon John Rankin writes:

YEARS before his prominence as the nation’s Rabbi, Rabbi Lionel Blue (News, 23/30 December) be­­came known, during the 1970s, to a small group of Cambridge theo­logical students. He regularly came from London to Cambridge to hold a tutorial on Jewish Studies.

His style was conversational and anecdotal, and he spoke of Judaism as “the religion of the kitchen”. He spoke of the dilemma of perfection, and because that cannot be attained the need to acknowledge this fact by including a tiny flaw in whatever we set out to do.

He encouraged an attitude of thankfulness for what is enjoyed, and the recognition of anything extra as a bonus — “and this as well!” These words were a guard against tak­­ing the blessings of life for granted.

The Revd Toddy Hoare adds: Years ago, I met Rabbi Lionel Blue in Durham, where he was an hon­orary fellow of Grey College. About seven years ago, he sat for me, and I did a couple of sketches in the round in clay, which I then cast. It was an entertaining occasion.

On another occasion, he was holding a soirée at the Oxford Play­house, and I was waiting for him to finish his “meet you after­wards session”. He gave time for a short exchange with all who queued to speak with him. Mostly they were talking about themselves, their plans, their aches and pains, but each time he had a bon mot or some encouragement for them.

It struck me that, while many things called for the laying-on of hands, had it been in a church healing service or prayer scenario, here was something just as effective, which I can only describe as a laying-on of words by Lionel. Cer­tainly people moved on with a lighter step.

So passes someone who had much to offer and who gave much encouragement to many.

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