Crumbs and Character, by Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung, New York 1942.

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Leo Jung was born in 1892 in Moravia, the son of Rabbi Meir Tzvi Jung.  His father was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Federation of Synagogues in London in 1912. At the time the Federation was an orthodox rival to the more established and orthodox but English United Synagogue.  Rabbi Meir Tzvi Jung, also, incidentally, gave his hashkacha (rabbinical supervision) to the Mikveh (Ritual bath) founded by my great-grandfather, Marks Maidart, in Maplin Street, Bow.

Leo Jung received his rabbinical education in Europe and his secular education at Cambridge University in England. He had semicha (rabbinical ordination) from:

(a) Rabbi Mordechai Zvi Schwartz, an important Hungarian Rabbi who became Rabbi of the Federation Mile End and Bow Synagogue in London. I have written about him previously.

(b) Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who was in London and was Rav of the Machzike Hadath community in Brick Lane from 1917 to 1919. I have written about his book Rosh Milin, which he published in London.

(c) Rabbi David Zvi Hoffman, who had succeeded Rabbi Azriel Hildersheimer at the yeshiva in Berlin.

In 1920 Leo Jung emigrated to the United States, and in 1922 he became Rabbi of the Jewish Center Synagogue in New York.  Here he made an indelible impression as a bearded, impeccably orthodox rabbi who spoke English and had a Cambridge University education.

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He published ‘Crumbs and Character’ in 1942.  It is a collection of his writings from the late 1930s to the early years of the war (for Europe, that is).  Leo Jung was kind enough to donate what is now my copy of his book to the “Yeshiva College”, where it was in the Mendel Gottesman Library.

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What did Yeshiva University do with his gift? They discarded it, even though it is a signed, inscribed copy! (I assume that they kept another copy, and for full disclosure, as my wife, two of my daughters and a son-in-law are all YU graduates, I have nothing against YU).

I particularly like Rabbi Jung’s essay “God in the Crisis”, some of which seems particularly relevant today.  He writes:

“Ever since the middle of the last century the human race has had the means of providing the human family with its vital needs – work, fair wage and abundant outlet for its energies and glorious opportunity to build a world of peace. But so many people who boast vociferously of modern progress, have been thinking selflessly and foolishly only for themselves and their families, and have treated with general indifference the awful misery of millions of their brethren….  I am speaking of the slums of London, and Glasgow and Paris, of the normal number of millions of unemployed in the United States.  What happened to these?  They became generations of hereditary paupers to whom in the midst of unheard of plenty there came no hope…”

Read on:

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