About Herbert Loewe
By Michael Loewe, the younger son of Herbert Loewe
Nobody could have loved the Shabbat with greater devotion than Herbert Loewe (1882-1940). As a natural and unassuming leader he took the congregation through the services and rituals of the synagogue, paying particular attention to their niceties; as head of a family he led his wife and children through the traditional practices and activities of the home. Well attuned to the music of the occasion, whether of Ashkenazic or Sephardic origin, as a scholar he explained the lessons to be learnt from the words that we intoned or sang. In the afternoon his sons joined him in reading Midrash, in the company of any who cared to join, be they Jewish or academic colleagues of other faiths, all joining in the exposition of what was being read. The sacred day had begun with ‘Arbith, often read and sung at home; it ended with Havdallah, when the youngest person present happily waved the newly lit candle; he graced both occasions with the heartfelt blessing that he pronounced on his family. And after the day of rest had passed, he reached for his pipe and tobacco and set to work on the tasks of the new week.
It was in such an atmosphere that the Zemiroth took their place at Friday’s supper and Saturday’s dinner, recalling the debt owed to teachers and ancestors of the past and ensuring that their memories, customs and traditions would live on in the future. How happy Herbert Loewe would have been had he known that, nearly eighty years after his death, he was still helping children to sing the songs that make the Sabbath day so holy and joyous.