Format Hardback and ebook
Published 14 September 2017
Length 304 pages
ISBN 9781905559824 (ebook)
A Rocky Road: Memoirs
Abraham Levy with Simon Rocker
Born into the 300-year-old Jewish community in Gibraltar, Abraham Levy spent his early years, which coincided with the Second World War, on the island of Madeira before returning to “The Rock”. There the family remained secure within a relatively observant community. By the age of eight he was attending synagogue for shacharit, or morning prayer, before school and became known as “the religious boy”. He was determined to be a rabbi. Abraham Levy first went to a convent school, then a Jewish school, followed by a year with the Christian Brothers, before arriving at Carmel College in England. From the age of thirteen he spent some school holidays in Maida Vale and began to attend Lauderdale Road Synagogue. He went on to study for the rabbinate at Jews’ College and, after receiving his Rabbinical Diploma, Lauderdale Road was to be the base for his work for almost sixty years.
Over those many years, Abraham Levy, as Spiritual Head of the Sephardim in the United Kingdom, has had enormous influence on Jewish life. His deep sense of moderation, tolerance and reason have been consistent throughout his tenure and have brought him into contact both with leaders of different faiths and of the secular world alike. None the less, he has always held the view that each individual in the community is important and, to ensure a future for that community, the young have been central to his energies. He has been responsible for the expansion of a small but prominent Sephardi community in the UK and, crucially, the establishment of the Naima Jewish Preparatory School in London.
Abraham Levy’s deep faith and rare personal qualities were to bring about a remarkable gathering of leaders of the different sections of Anglo-Jewry: the ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox and Progressive movements attended a service to mark 350 years since the readmission of Jews to the UK. The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, also attended and said: “... As the oldest minority faith community in this country, you show how identity through faith can be combined with a deep loyalty for our nation.” But for Rabbi Levy the words that moved him most came from four children from the Naima JPS each of whom read a poem they had composed for the day. Abraham Levy’s memoir is a testimony to a devotion to public life, to the community, and to the young in an increasingly secular and conflicted world.
"The recent memoirs of Britain’s former Sephardi spiritual head Rabbi Abraham Levy — A Rocky Road — is an urgent “how to” manual for how Sephardim and Mizrahim can stand up for their traditions"
Ben Judah, author of This is London, The Jewish Chronicle
“A wise and warm memoir from one of the great spiritual leaders and institution builders of Anglo-Jewry. Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy has been an outstanding embodiment of the classic Spanish-and-Portuguese Jewish tradition, a passionate voice for moderation in an age of extremes, and this lovely book is a reminder of how much that tradition still has to teach us about the combination of humanity and spirituality, openness and faith.”
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
“A wonderfully charming, intimate and interesting memoir of life at the very centre of the old Sephardic Jewish community in London by its hugely respected, long serving Rabbi Abraham Levy who not only has known many eminent and famous characters, described in the book, but also understands and enlightens the culture and faith of Judaism itself.”
Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: The Biography
About Abraham Levy
Born in Gibraltar in 1939 to a prominent Spanish and Portuguese Jewish family who had taken refuge in Gibraltar in the 18th century, Abraham Levy went to Carmel College in the UK and subsequently studied for the Rabbinate at Jew’s College. Rabbi Levy served as Head of the Sephardi community and received an OBE for services to inter-faith understanding.