Nahum Sokolow, the great Zionist leader, Hebrew writer and encyclopoedist, lives on in spirit in the large house in London where he lived from 1921 to his death in 1936.
Last Sunday, his only surviving daughter and lifelong helper, Dr. Celina Sokolow, reminisced about her father to a gathering of British Zionist supporters, Israeli diplomats, and her own personal admirers. The event, a few days after the 65th anniversary of the Bal-four Declaration, marked the unveiling of a plaque at 43 Compayne Gardens, which remains almost unchanged since Nahum Sokolow’s death.
In Sokolow’s living room, his portrait (by Pasternek, father of the great Russian Jewish novelist Alexander Pastemek) gazed down benignly as speaker after speaker paid tribute to his memory, amid telegram greetings from Israeli President Yitzhak Novon, Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and World Zionist Organization chairman Leon Dulzin.
But the living link with Sokolow was heard in the voice of his daughter, still strong and resonant despite her 92 years. “Here were held the regular meetings of the World Zionist Executive in my father’s huge study on the second floor,” she declared in her strong Russian accent.
EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE BALFOUR DECLARATION
She also voiced her unfading pleasure that her father’s efforts to achieve the Balfour Declaration had been “crowned with success.” For despite the efforts of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the British government would not have issued its famous promise of a Jewish national home in Palestine had Sokolow not first secured the agreement of the governments of France and Italy.
On a table in the hallway were displayed some of Sokolow’s books, including his two-volume history of Zionism, (now long out of print) with its foreword by the author of the Balfour Declaration, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour.
“It is hard to imagine the present British Foreign Secretary writing the preface to such a work by the present Israeli Prime Minister, ” observed Geoffrey Gelberg, the Zionist Federation chairman, who presided.
The blue and white ceramic plaque which now perpetuates Nahum Sokolow’s connection with 43 Compayne Gardens resembles many others put up on the homes of the famous by the Greater London Council. This one, however, lacks the initials of the G.L.C Since it was put up not by the city authorities but by private admirers of Sokolow. But at least its colors are identical with those of the Zionist flog, under which Sokolow worked and died.
And as long as his daughter lives in it, the spirit of Sokolow himself will linger in this place.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.