Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial, 24 November 2015
My Lords and Ladies, Rabbis, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to the Western Marble Arch Synagogue, to the memorial for our dear Martin. I am Sir Martin’s widow, Esther, and before I introduce Rabbi Liss who will take us through the programme, I would like to introduce the audience:
Among you are members of Martin’s family and extended family, among you are friends for many years, and friends who know him only through his words. Among you are members of the diplomatic community from Austria, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey. Among you are members of the Churchill family, and Churchill scholars. Among you are Holocaust survivors, partisans, and their families, Holocaust educators, and members of many communal Jewish and inter-faith organisations. Among you are members of the parliamentary and government communities, military, rabbinic, academic, educational, publishing and medical communities, and many who were included in or have been touched by Martin’s fifty years of scholarship, and seventy-odd years of friendship.
Among you are people from the United States who have postponed their Thanksgiving preparations to make the journey to be here in London especially for tonight, from New York and Washington, Virginia and South Carolina, Florida and Texas, Michigan and Minnesota. Among those who have travelled here for this memorial are friends from Canada, Hungary, and Israel, and from the British hinterland – beyond the M25.
It is my honour to welcome you here tonight, as we come together to remember a man of passion and compassion, a life spent in the service of scholarship, who has left a legacy of historical accuracy, who influenced his world as much as he wrote it’s history.
I would now like to call on Rabbi Nicky Liss of our Highgate Synagogue who has been a leader, a guide, and a friend, who has come into our lives – Martin and mine – at a time when we needed, and has carried me through the turbulence of the last few years. Rabbi Liss was at my side when Martin took his last breaths; he accompanied us to Israel on Martin’s final journey. He has been with us for celebrations and for lamentation. It is fitting that he should be our guide this evening.