We gain a Rabbi

In January 2008 we received an exciting email from Debs saying that she had made contact with another of the Jacobs clan, and one with a wonderful story to tell.

Rabbi Roderick Young is connected through Jacob Jacobs [Z065] and his son Henry (the butcher).


From here I will let Roderick tell his own story.

I am thrilled to have been found! I am 47 – my mum had me at age 39 and her mum had her at age 38, so I am usually a generation behind my relatives. I was raised C of E and discovered that I was Jewish at the age of 23.

It’s a long story that I won’t tell now, but my mother was born and raised Jewish and was secretly baptised at the age of 16 in 1936. She was determined that her children would never know – which backfired somewhat when I discovered the secret and ended up as a rabbi. With my rabbi hat on for a moment, let me say that I didn’t “convert” to Judaism, but simply returned to it. As you know Judaism traditionally goes down the female line. And traditional Judaism doesn’t recognise conversion out, so I was born Jewish without knowing it and didn’t have to say the blessings of conversion to return. And that’s the lecture over! I have no idea of people’s Jewish knowledge in this group, but if I can be of any help answering questions about things our ancestors did, believed in etc, I am happy to do so – but for all I know there may be folk with greater Jewish knowledge than mine in this group.

My mother is still alive, in a care home in Dorset, aged 87. She will now admit to being Jewish to close family, but never to anyone else. When the time comes she will have a good Anglican send off! She was five when her grandmother Julia Stewart (1854 – 1925, nee Jacobs, later Siegenberg and they changed their name to Stewart in 1904) died. Julia spent the last years of her life living in the Russell Hotel, Russell Square, London, where my mother remembers going to visit her. She remembers her as a frightening old lady.

After I discovered that I was Jewish I started the family research and did it fairly intensively from about 1983 to 1989. Obviously this was in prehistoric times, when I actually had to go to St. Catherine’s House (Births etc); Somerset House (wills); PRO (census); British Library (hard copies of Jewish Chronicle) to look anything up. All my Jacobs info comes from that time. Last year I finally put a lot of my findings on Ancestry.co.uk and Genes Reunited. I wrote up the family history 15 years ago for my immediate family and I will email you all what I wrote about the Jacobs then. Some of it may be new knowledge for you, a lot will not be.