In this video, Rabbi Jacobs reflects on his long-standing friendship with and admiration for a teacher and colleague of his, R. Koppel Kahanah. He describes R. Kahanah as a colourful and very influential rabbi, once well-known in the Anglo-Jewish community, but now remembered only be his few disciples. Kahanah came to England from Lithuania just before the outbreak of the Second World War (his wife and daughter, who could not at the time join him in England, perished in the Holocaust). He had studied in the yeshivah of the Chafetz Chaim, and in time made use of his remarkable, photographic memory to acquire an impressive, in-depth knowledge of the Talmud. Upon arriving in England, he lived for some time in Manchester, where Rabbi Jacobs was first acquainted with him. He then moved to Cambridge, where he studied for an MA in law, and befriended Professor David Daube. He eventually settled in London, and was granted an important position at Jews’ College, at a time when the institution was transitioning from ministerial college to rabbinical seminary (granting traditional semicha – or rabbinic ordination – to its graduates).
Rabbi Jacobs offers numerous anecdotes, covering the entire breadth of Rabbi Kahanah’s life. He paints an intimate portrait of the man, full of admiration and humour.