Lady Jakobovits dies at 81

Widow of UK chief rabbi was patron of charitable causes.

May 7, 2010 19:09
2 minute read.
Lady Amelie Jacobovitz.

lady j 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Lady Amelie Jakobovits, widow of the renowned British chief rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, died on Friday after a short illness at the age of 81.

It is understood that she is to be buried in Israel.

Known widely and affectionately simply as “Lady J,” she was eulogized warmly by the current British Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, as “an extraordinarily vivid figure of seemingly inexhaustible energy and effervescence.”

Jakobovits was the founder of the Association of United Synagogue Women, and a patron and supporter of Emunah, Jewish Care, Chai Cancer Care and Wizo, among other causes.

In a statement, Sacks recalled that Jakobovits was a Holocaust survivor and the daughter of the chief rabbi of Paris, Elie Munk. She and her husband, whom she married while still in her teens, “formed a formidable and inseparable team, as he became chief rabbi of Ireland, then rabbi of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York, and then chief rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth,” said Sacks.

“After his death in 1999 she emerged as a leader in her own right, speaking and lecturing throughout the world,” he went on. “She had warmth, charm, wit and deeply felt faith. She was constantly active, visiting the sick, comforting the bereaved, supporting the many Jewish and medical causes of which she was president or patron. She believed passionately in the sanctity of the family, and remained close to her six children and more than a hundred grand- and great-grandchildren.”

Concluded Sacks, “She was a larger-than-life figure, widely known and loved. We will miss her deeply.”

Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz, who was invited to London last November to give a lecture marking the 10th anniversary of Lord Jakobovits’s death, said “Lady J” was “a generous, gracious, warm personality.” He recalled that “she took the trouble to find my wife’s phone number back in Israel, and called to thank her for sparing me to come give the lecture, and to assure her that it had gone well. That was a really lovely thing to do.”

Her husband’s biographer, the late Chaim Bermant, was quoted by the Jewish Chronicle as having said of Lady J: “No one has added more to the gaiety and color of Anglo-Jewish life.”

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