100th anniversary of historic address by philanthropist CEO Flora Sassoon

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100th anniversary of historic address by philanthropist CEO Flora Sassoon

Formerly known as Jews’ College, this month the London School of Jewish Studies celebrates the centenary of speech by doyenne of 18th century Baghdadi-Jewish dynasty

Flora Sassoon. Pic: LSJS
Flora Sassoon. Pic: LSJS

The London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS), formerly known as Jews’ College, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of a historic speech by Flora Sassoon, the first woman to address graduating rabbis at the institution. 

Describing herself as “the first lady chairman” of the annual Speech Day, Sassoon’s talk on 13 April 1924 was replete with Talmudic insights. Referred to as “one of the world’s most learned women”, Flora was a Torah scholar who studied with rabbinic tutors, wrote articles on Rashi and debated Jewish matters with the men of her generation.

Born in Baghdad to the well-known Sassoon family, she was a successful businesswoman, philanthropist and an esteemed hostess. Flora was also known to recite the book of Psalms each morning and was multilingual; speaking Hebrew, Aramaic, Hindustani, English, French and German.

Prof. Shalva Weil, senior researcher at the Hebrew University, will be exploring her fascinating life story at a centenary lecture, on Monday 15th April, where she will chart the colourful life of the orthodox Jewess who always travelled with her own prayer quorum of ten Jewish males and personal ritual slaughterer.

Joanne Greenaway, chief executive of LSJS said: “Upon Flora’s move to England and subsequent rise to prominence, she viewed Jews’ College as the central place to spread Torah throughout the British Empire and create future Talmidei Chachamim.

“At her Annual Speech Day lecture, she stressed the importance of Jewish education and the Torah as the chief source which has kept Jews alive and sustained us. She believed that as long as we were learning, no one could destroy us. We are honoured that such a remarkable woman, who was ahead of her time in terms of female Jewish scholarship, is an important part of our history. We are proud to be continuing Flora Sassoon’s legacy and the fact that LSJS is now at the forefront of both women’s and men’s learning.”

  • Click here for further information on the centenary lecture. 
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