By Arie M. Dubnov (auth.)
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Extra resources for Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal
Proponents of Zion). The couple immigrated to Palestine during the early 1930s, and it was to his maternal aunt, Ida, that Berlin would frequently report about his whereabouts. Her modest house in Jerusalem would later become a site Berlin visited whenever in Palestine/Israel. 50 Isaiah Berlin’s mother, Masha, was apparently also very supportive of Zionism. In the eyes of her son, the two sisters’ disposition was a result of the fact they, unlike Mendel, spent their childhood in Riga’s more religious quarters.
46 Mendel’s memoir tells a very different story. Part of what explains the difference between the narrative of events offered by Mendel and his son is the way in which Isaiah Berlin compartmentalized antiSemitism in his mind. If he ever mentioned it, it was only within closed, intraJewish circles, as if the issue had no relevance to a larger public. Years later, when asked to review a monographic study about the Beillis Affair, Berlin was very reluctant. To Meyer Weisgal, who pressured Berlin to write the review, he wrote that he was willing to write “only for the Jewish Chronicle or some other Jewish publication.
At the very same time, this nuclear family was not an independent unit but was seen as an integral part of a much larger family that was an economic as well as emotional unit. A Young Boy from Riga 25 An illuminating description of this environment can be found in the memoir Mendel Berlin wrote for his beloved son in March 1946, seven years before his death. The chronicle of events was of secondary importance for Mendel, who preferred to dedicate the bulk of his account to proving the family’s noble pedigree, tracing its genealogy back to the famous Habad rabbis.