Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate's Widow About Wingate's Death and Memorial

May 2, 1944

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Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate's Widow About Wingate's Death and Memorial
Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 377

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      Background

      Twenty-six hundred years in the Diaspora, and one comes to appreciate the kindness of strangers: which is why a British intelligence officer, and gentile, named Orde Charles Wingate, stationed in Palestine during the Mandate, is known in Hebrew as “the friend.”  At a time when virtually every British official in Mandatory Palestine was anti-Semitic, Wingate was an ardent Zionist. A brilliant commando, he insisted on organizing, against his government’s inclination, a Jewish guerilla force to combat terrorist attacks – and for this service to the Haganah, was shipped home in 1939, forbidden to return. Weizmann, who met Wingate in Palestine in May 1937, said that he was immediately struck by his powerful personality and spiritual outlook. “My wife and I”, he wrote in his autobiography, “loved and revered him.” 

      Wingate was killed in Burma in March, 1944. This letter to Wingate’s widow, Lorna, is about his death.

      Lorna dearest, I don't wish to utter words of comfort at an open grave. You know what I think and feel - and words are inadequate! As soon as I have heard your wishes concerning a memorial service in a synagogue I have got into touch with the Chief Rabbi who has gladly agreed to hold and to conduct such a service … We shall fix the date soon and… send out invitations to some non-Jewish friends like the P.M. and other prominent persons. We have telegraphed to Palestine to arrange for a service there. Meanwhile we shall hold a small modest service in our own office; we do it always for our friends who leave us…
      My very best love to you…


      A memorial service was held in London, on April 25, 1944, at the Great Synagogue; and in Jerusalem, at the Yeshurun Synagogue, that same year.


      Autograph Letter Signed (“Chaim”), 2 pages, octavo, recto and verso, The Dorchester Hotel, London, May 2, 1944. To Lorna Wingate.
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      THE DORCHESTER HOTEL
      LONDON
      TELEPHONE: MAYFAIR 8888

      May 2nd. 44

      Lorna dearest, I don't wish to utter words of comfort at an open grave. You know what I think and feel - and words are inadequate!

      As soon as I have heard your wishes concerning a memorial service in a synagogue I have got into touch with the Chief Rabbi who has gladly agreed to hold and to conduct such a service but according to Jewish Law it cannot be done on the week before Passover neither during the Passover week; we shall therefore have to wait about a fortnight, but we shall fix the date soon and let you know and also send out invitations to some non-Jewish friends like the P.M. and other prominent persons. We have telegraphed to Palestine

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      to arrange for a service there.

      Meanwhile we shall hold a small modest Service in our own office; we do it always for our friends who leave us.

      I enclose a telegram just received from Sigmund
      My very best love to you and to Mother


      Yours ever

      Chaim