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Alisa Jaffa

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
23 Feb 1939
Interview number:

Interview Summary:

Alisa was born in 1935 in Franfurt an der Oder. Her father was a well known rabbi called Dr Ignatz Maybaum and he had a rabbinical positon in Frankfurt. Her mother, Franziska nee Shor had studied chemistry and became Rabbi Maybaum’s literary assistant later. He became a rabbi in Berlin for the ‘Liberale’ synagogues, Oranienburgerstrasse and Pestalozzistrasse. Alisa has very few memories of Berlin. Her father was denounced and arrested for one months in 1935. After his release he continued to be a rabbi. Alisa had an older brother who was sent on a Kindertransport to London, organised by Dr Bernard Schlesinger, a paediatrician, who rented a house in Highgate (26 Shepherd’s Hill) and brought out 12 children. They came together with a student rabbi, a housemother (Mrs Gluecksmann) and a nanny. A month later, Rabbi Maybaum, his wife and Alisa were granted a visa through the help of chief rabbi Hertz. They left on the 23rd of March on a plane to Croydon.  They settled in Cricklewood and attended Hampstead Synagogue, where Alisa went to local school and later to Grammar school. Alisa learnt English very quickly and helped her parents. Alisa feels she is not a refugee as she grew up with her immediate family, as part of a community. Other refugees lived in their road and she was very friendly with the English Jewish family who lived opposite. Her grandmothers were killed in the Holocaust. Dr Leo Baeck who came to London after the war confirmed that he had met the Maybaum’s mother in Terezin. Eventually Rabbi Maybaum became rabbi in Edgware Reform Synagogue and the family moved to Edgware. Alisa studied German and French at University. She married and joined her husband who was a GP in Bromley, where they raised their two daughters. Alisa became a translator, particularly for Art books and later worked as a registrar for the Jewish Museum, first in Woburn Square and later in Camden, a role she particularly enjoyed. She feels you should live in the present and not look back too much, as you cannot change the past. She sees herself as British and Anglo-Continental. She is a member of Belsize Square Synagogue.     


Keywords: Rabbi Ignatz Maybaum. Frankfurt an der Oder. Berlin. Oranienburgerstrasse Synagogue. Dr Schlesinger Hostel. Edgware Reform Synagogue. Eugen Spiro (painter), an uncle.


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