Lamdan Honored For Exploring Jewish Roots
08/10/2013 - 20:57
Douglas Bloomfield

Amb. Neville Lamdan, who served Israel in top posts in Washington, at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and at the Vatican before leaving the diplomatic arena to explore Jewish roots, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Boston this week. 

Well-known on Capitol Hill and among pro-Israel activist here, Lamdan followed up his Washington service as Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and Ambassador to the Vatican. Since retiring he has focused on his life-long interest in Jewish genealogy.

He is the founder of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem in 2006, and was its director until last year. The award was presented by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in recognition of his promoting the vision of an academic research center for Jewish genealogy.

The Scottish-born Lamdan has a doctorate in modern history from Oxford and briefly served in the British Foreign Service during the late 1960s before making aliyah and joining the Israeli foreign service. After a posting to the United Nations in New York he was assigned to Washington in the 1980s.

His personal quest into his roots began in the 1970’s and he became a leading proponent of academic Jewish genealogy in the 1990’s. He is now the chair of the Genealogical Institute’s Executive Committee and, among other things, is overseeing two “mega” research projects, one a Genealogical Profile of Scottish Jewry and the other on the Lives and Lineages of Village Jews in the 19th century Minsk Gubernya.

The Institute he founded aims to advance the status of Jewish Genealogy within the realm of Jewish Studies, principally through research and teaching at the university level. In parallel, it seeks to inspire and enrich the work of Jewish genealogists and family historians. Since its inception, it has sponsored 15 scholarly studies in Jewish genealogy, elaborated “Academic Guidelines” for BA and MA courses on the subject and developed various tools and technologies for family historians working in the field

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nevil kol hakavod. samachti likro al hapras. shana tova lecha ulecol hamisshpacha .

Congratulations. I've only just seen the report of the awardans i am delighted for you. You deserve it, as you have done so much for the world of genealogy

Kol Hakavod Neville and Shana Tova.
Yitzhak Eldan

Cousin Neville, What an honor! An amazing accomplishment. I had no idea you were doing all of this. I thought you were just doing our families history. Thank you so much for your service, your creativity and your compassion. Mazel Tov! Kate

Congratulations. I've only just seen the report of the award and both Aby and I are delighted for you and Susan. You deserve it, as you have done so much for the world of genealogy.

it si right his personal quest into his roots began in the 1970’s and he became a leading proponent of academic Jewish genealogy in the 1990’s

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Dear Neville.
Kol Hakavod
Gideon and Yael

Congratulations, dear Neville.
Your work is so important for Jewish history and for keeping alive the fascinating lineage of so many Jews. Mazel Tov on your award. With warm regards from Bali, Judy and Bob

Ambassador and PhD Neville Lamdan is a model civil servant who has contributed MUCH to Israel in many ways, inckluding an unusual special commendation fromthe late Yitzhak Rabin. He is a consumate Jew qua Jew without unneeded adjectives or hyphens: his deep Jewish rootedness brought him to search and find deep --and sometimes tragically lost -- Jewish roots.

'The Jewish Week' editorial board and Mr. Douglas Bloomfield.

I read with great interest your excellent summary about the man Dr. Neville Lamdan as well as the reasons for which he was awarded that prestigious Award.

As someone who has taken a leading role in Jewish genealogy in Israel for over three decades, I wonder whether you might be interested in some segments of my letter of recommendation, submitted in support of his nomination for this Award.

We are all familiar with the raging debates - during the last three centuries - about the following topic: "Do Heroes create History" or "Does History create its Heroes".

Many well known historians, sociologists, philosophers, social anthropologists and philosophers of history, have been engaged in that discussion.

One may include among the proponents of the first part of the fore mentioned proposition: "Do Heroes create History", such scholars as Hegel, Carlyle, Spengler, Kierkegaard, Frederick Adams, and Nietzsche, as opposed to the proponents of the second half of the proposition: "Does History create its Heroes" i.e. Herbert Spencer, William James, Georgi Plekhanov, Sidney Hook and Leonid Grinin.

I suggest that there is a two way interaction between people who are congruent with the surrounding historical events and the prevailing Zeitgeist. The totality of the surrounding environments: historical, economic, social and spiritual and the individuals amidst them, shape each other reciprocally. To paraphrase an idea of Leonid Grinin: "An individual, by his ideas or actions may have such an influence upon his society, that makes him recognized as being very significant for the development of scientific Jewish Genealogy".

Values, Ideas, perceptions, goals, needs and means hover around in the amorphous clouds of humanity. These are translated into realities, only when they capture the attention and the imagination of people to such a degree that they are ready to harness their motivations, their talents, abilities and energies in order to realize them into realities.
Many ideas relating to scientific genealogy in general and relating to Jewish genealogy in particular - such as the correct understandings and fine intentions concerning the desirable plans and programs in need of implementation - were in the air during the eighties and nineties of the last century and well into the first decade of this century.

These ideas were implemented and realized only when Dr. Lamdan decided to take the bull by the horns and combine his ideas with those of others. His scientific training, his spirit, his innovativeness, his talents and abilities and his life experiences prepared him to be the right person at the right time in the right place.

Dr. Lamdan was the creative force for the successful realization of the Scientific International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.

After the inception of the Institute he, almost, single handedly created, molded and led its activities and programs. As the Director-General of the International Institute he promoted the idea of an inter-disciplinary science of Jewish genealogy despite many difficulties.
The most difficult obstacles to overcome, were, and still are, the conservatism of the academic world, with its resistance to change and the lack of a precedent for an inter-disciplinary science of genealogy. Among foundations, the financial and the economic crisis in the world, and the lack of any understanding as to what scientific genealogy means, were almost an un-surmountable barrier to raise funds. This was like trying to plow an open furrow in a hard, virgin and primordial land or hoping to raise a bumper crop in drought years. Despite all these difficulties Dr. Lamdan accomplished in less than a decade what no one believed possible.

In summation:
The well-known genealogist, Prof. Thomas W. Jones stated that the "Institute can serve as a path-finder, perhaps even a model, for the wider field-thus shortening genealogy's long road to academic acceptance".
Dan Rottenberg, one of the pioneers of modern Jewish genealogy, actually wrote to the Institute "One plants many seeds in one's life, and in my case [Jewish genealogy] is one seed that has spouted magnificently [... in] scholarly directions beyond my wildest dreams in 1977".

Dr. Lamdan merits the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award for his vision and pioneering work in the field of Jewish genealogy. He has led the science of Jewish genealogy into virgin territory and opened up new vistas in the field. He conceived and created with imagination and energy the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy. As an academic center, the institute advances the teaching and research of Jewish genealogy at the university level.
Dr. Lamdan affected the work of everyone involved in the field. His is a unique and significant contribution to Jewish genealogy.

Respectfully Yours,
Dr. Chanan Rapaport