||Only edition of this account of a trip by Chief Rabbi I. Herzog to North Africa and Europe. In 1946 R. Herzog traveled throughout Europe for six months in an attempt to find and rescue the many Jewish children, mostly orphans, who were hidden in monasteries and convents and with non-Jewish families during the years of Nazi persecution (see Massa Haẓẓalah, 1947). In the course of these travels he was received by the pope and many leading statesmen. At the beginning of the book is a photograph of R. Herzog and throughout the boo are additional photos of R. Herzog meetingwith dignitaries, both Jewish and non-Jewish, including him leaving a visit with the Pope, R. Herzog wearing a formal top hat. Other pictures include his visiting the Warsaw ghetto and other sites, as well as with Jewish communal leaders. This is an important and moving account of R. Herzog’s strenuous efforts on behalf Holocaust survivors.
R. Isaac Herzog (1888–1959) was a rabbinic scholar and chief rabbi of Israel. Born in Lomza, Poland, Herzog was nine years old when his father R. Joel Herzog immigrated to Leeds, England, to be the rabbi there. Though Isaac never attended a yeshivah, he achieved the highest standards in rabbinic scholarship, receiving semikhah from Jacob David Wilkowsky (Ridbaz) of Safed. Herzog was awarded his doctorate of literature by the London University for a thesis on The Dyeing of Purple in Ancient Israel (1919), which deals with the coloring of one of the threads of the zizit (see Num. 15:38). As part of his dissertation, he proved that the process used by the Radzyner ḥasidim to create the blue dye for ẓiẓit was incorrect. The Radzyner Rebbe had been misled by an unscrupulous chemist who had added iron filings to the mixture. During World War II, the Radzyner blue dyeing factories and their process were lost. Ironically, after the war, the surviving Radzyn ḥasidim approached R. Herzog, who gave them the correspondence between him and the Radzyner dyemakers. Thus, they were able to reestablish their dyeing business in Israel, where it still functions to this day. R. Herzog served as rabbi in Belfast (Northern Ireland), 1916–19, and in Dublin until 1936, receiving the title of chief rabbi of the Irish Free State after 1921. He maintained excellent relations with political and ecclesiastical figures, and established a life-long friendship with Eamon de Valera, the Irish prime minister. By testifying before a committee of the Irish senate he succeeded in safeguarding sheḥitah against the provisions of a Slaughter of Animals Act (1935). Herzog was an ardent Zionist and a founder of the Mizrachi Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
In 1932 R. Herzog declined an invitation to the rabbinate of Salonika. In 1936 he accepted the invitation to become chief rabbi of Palestine in succession to R. A.I. Kook and assumed office in 1937. With the exception of a few die-hard fanatics, who sporadically challenged him, R. Herzog enjoyed the respect of the vast majority, including the non-religious elements, particularly in the kibbutzim. R. Herzog grappled with ways to reconcile Jewish law with modern values and practice. As chief rabbi, he was president of the Rabbinical Court of Appeal and of the Chief Rabbinate Council, and thus, through the enactment of takkanot in matters of personal status, he was responsible for significant advances, reconciling the necessities of modern living with the demands of halakhah. These takkanot include the acceptance of non-observant Jews as witnesses before the rabbinic court, the payment of alimony and the coercion of recalcitrant husbands who refuse to give their wives a get (decree of divorce). He was also responsible for formulating the statutory regulations governing the rabbinic courts. These were first implemented in 1943. Along with the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Ben-Zion Ḥai Ouziel , he did away with the separation of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews in the rabbinic courts. He also served as president of the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot, established in 1940 to solicit financial support for the country's talmudic colleges. It was his initiative that led to Isaac Wolfson 's building Hechal Shlomo, the seat of the chief rabbinate, and other important religious organizations and services. From the time of his arrival in Israel in 1937, Herzog became the champion of all the Jews arrested by the British Mandate authorities. He actively intervened on behalf of all those sentenced to death. Unfortunately, his efforts were not always successful. Before, during, and after World War II Herzog was one of the representatives of Palestinian and world Jewry to the various conferences and commissions organized to find a solution to the Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine. He set forth the Jewish spiritual claims to the Holy Land and stressed the need of a refuge for the survivors of the Holocaust. Herzog, deeply stirred by the tragedy of the Holocaust, traveled to London (1940), the United States (1941), South Africa (1941), Turkey (1943), and Cairo (1944) trying to rescue Jews. Thus, in 1940 he received from Soviet Russia permits for staff and students of Lithuanian and Polish yeshivot stranded in Vilna to cross Russia to the Far East. Herzog fought unsuccessfully to have the laws of the new State of Israel based on Torah law. He was especially disappointed that the vast majority of rabbis in Israel did not assist him in his efforts to base the laws of inheritance on halakhah. In responding to another of the challenges made by the new State of Israel to halakhah, Herzog took a stance that was different from his predecessor, Rabbi Abraham Isaac ha-Kohen Kook . Rabbi Kook opposed granting women the right to vote or to hold public office. Herzog, on the other hand, felt that modern democratic standards and the positive impact of the votes cast by religious women demanded that Jewish law find a way to allow women's suffrage. In the end, he did find the right combination of halakhic precedent to support the right of women to vote and to hold office. Indeed, Herzog worked constantly to reconcile Torah, the State, and democracy.