Hasmo Legends XVI: 1959 School Photograph

Hasmonean Grammar School for Boys, 1959

A fortnight ago, ex-Hasmo Robert Coe  (1957-1964) commented to Hasmo Legends I that he had a Hasmonean school photograph in his possession dating back to 1959.

Robert has now gone to the trouble (and no little expense) of having the wide-angle shot (above) professionally scanned. And, even though the only person I recognise in the photograph is WW Stanton – I hope readers of melchett mike might fill in the gaps – it really is quite wonderful. Saved to my laptop, I can zoom in and see every ugly mug – and there are plenty! – with frightening clarity.

I obviously cannot send the 3MB file to every reader individually, and – as photo-sharing websites such as Flickr cannot do the full photograph justice – a Tel Aviv graphic designer friend, Steve Davis, has done his best on his website:

Some of the clarity, however, especially in close-up, is lost with the full photograph, and ex-Hasmo Adrian Reiss (1960-1963) – the second in a long line of mischievous Reiss’s at the school (see the “Reiss’s cousin” story four paragraphs below the staff photo in Hasmo Legends I) – has very kindly chopped it, left to right, into the following sections:

Thank you, Robert, Steve and Adrian, for your sterling efforts.


98 responses to “Hasmo Legends XVI: 1959 School Photograph

  1. Mike,

    You may have a mild dose of literary constipation but with a photo like that who needs words. Really incredible. Well done for a great job to Robert Coe and to yourself. Much appreciated – and still looking forward to your next post.

  2. Really remarkable! Thanks to everyone who was involved. A few shallow comments after a 5 minute survey:

    1. Stanton seems to have had rheumatism back then already.
    2. Much more short trousers.
    3. No visible variation in 6th form uniform.
    4. No visible payot, shaven heads etc.
    5. Could fifth left of Willy (our left) be a young Cyril?
    6. Could fifth right of Willy (our right) be Elman?
    7. I’m pretty sure that second left of Willy (our left) is Bert Meyers.

  3. You ain’t see nuttin’ yet! We desperately need a Yeshiva Stream computer nerd to come forward and post the photo somewhere with full, clear zoom facilities.

    I can confidently say that, no, that is not a “young Cyril”.

    But could the teacher four to the left of WWS (as we look) be English teacher and poet, Chaim Lewis (a friend of the family)?

    And who is that scary-looking character seven to the right of Willy?!

  4. Raffy Wreschner

    my dad is immediately behind Dr. Levine the elderly teacher with a little grey beard and bow tie

    i’m sure he can answer any questions on the picture

  5. Dr. Levine? And I was sure it was Colonel Sanders!

    Raffy, perhaps your dad can start by providing the names of all the teachers in the pic.

  6. Raffy Wreschner

    He was more than happy to oblige…..

    From L-R: Elman, Katzenberg, Moher, Lewis, Wald, Meyer, Frank, Stanton, Levine, Bailin, Pomerance, Greenbaum, Reich,Grossman, Cohn, ?

  7. Fabulous and very emotive, just looking at the building! No hall (which is nowadays no longer the hall) nor North Hendon Adath to the left, the “biology lab / geography rooms / rooms over the bridge” extension to the right looking spanking new, and the gym (demolished 15 or more years back now) still looking respectable. Even the main “stately home” part of the building not yet in total terminal decay.

    No English Block or mobile unit yet – and so much greenery and vacant land. Then again, this was less than 15 years after the end of WWII, and no-one had so much as heard of Paul McCartney yet!

  8. Anthony Mammon

    Excellent… Now who can name all the boys?

  9. I met Robert Coe recently, at the shiva of his close friend and my cousin, Mark Schimmel.

    He told me a number of entertaining stories about their years together at Hasmonean, including the time my cousin was expelled (later reduced to suspension) for setting fire to the trousers of one of his classmates during a chemistry lesson.

    Robert keenly led the mincha service every day of the shiva – a skill he learned at Hasmo and which has never deserted him – with the gentle Anglo-Yekkish pronunciation that is so easy on the ear, as opposed the bastardised cod-sefardi one that has been inflicted on us these past decades.

    Robert, if you’re checking the comments, where is Mark on the picture?

  10. What I wanna know is what’s with the boy 17th from right in the back row? Is he the ghost of Hasmos past . . . or did his face get slapped so many times that he simply had no features left?!

  11. Johnny Landsman

    I actualy think the photo is from 1962/3 as I think my brother is in the front row & this would have been his 1st year.

  12. My brother (David if your reading please comment) once told me of a similar photograph from his days, where one of the kids is on the photo twice!! – since the camera was a type of pan and scan, he stood on one side at the beginning, then ran around the back to be on the other side at the end.
    Great photo though.

  13. Of genealogical interest – a very short film by British Pathe entitled “Junior Drivers Course” showing a driving lesson held in Hasmo Playground (filmed incidentally in 1959). You can find this on the British Pathe Website – click here (or search “Hasmonean” at http://www.britishpathe.com/). Enjoy!

  14. Classic stuff (even though I can’t get sound at work). Thanks, anon (whoever you may be).

    Were the instructor’s pervy squeezes on the hands of the boy (can anyone identify?) after he places them on the steering wheel absolutely necessary?! Similarly, his even more inappropriate “Heil Hitler” salutes.

    The film brought back memories of how we used to relish absolutely any excuse to get out of the classroom. Even playground fire drills were greeted with eager anticipation!

    Interesting that the boys – any others recognised? – are not wearing kippot. Were they told to remove them for the film out of ‘respect’ for the visiting Gentile?!

    Notwithstanding that it was 50 years ago, compare – without moral judgment, of course! – the ultra (over?) sensitive Jewish attitude to the wearing of the (relatively unobtrusive) kippa in a ‘foreign’ society, with the insistence of so many Muslim women on their “right” to wear the hijab.

    Incidentally, can anyone confirm or deny Johnny Landsman’s contention that the school photo is rather from 1962/3? And is there not one techie (Greenspan?!) out there who can make it clearer?

  15. at 1.54.46 on the video you see aboy wearing a cupple in class, he looks like the only one doing so. At this time my father was a pupil at a different Orthodox Jewish School and recalls many pupils not wearing cupples during secular lessons. I guess this was not long after WW2 and people were more conceious in general society.

    I do remember in my time at Hasmo that football was invariable played with cupple in hand rather than on head.

  16. Ex hasmo, is your reluctance to reveal your true identity a similar attempt to conceal your Jewish roots?

    If so, it is futile – we know you’re a yeeed . . . 😉

  17. I was led to believe that increasingly visible kippot, cupples and yarmulkes, sported in the UK were positively proportional to increasing Israeli independence, after the six day war in particular. Before then, people covered their heads with more conventional looking headgear.

    There must be techies out there who have read this and not made themselves known for fear of more requests to sort other IT related problems. They don’t like responding to requests or answering telephones.

  18. Hi Dovid

    perhaps, but more likely the increase was due to the visability of other minorities who were not afriad to wear their turbans, sahri’s, hijabs etc.
    This would have started around the 1960’s withe influx of Hindus from India, Uganda and Kenya along with the West Indians and their colourful clothing.

  19. Victor Ofstein

    My dad, Eddie Ofstein, is 10th from the left, 2nd row from the back.

  20. Hasmonean was started by Yekkes. In the German Jewish tradition, the “capple” was used exclusively in religious contexts, e.g. praying. In the early years of Hasmo, the school rules required pupils to wear it during religious studies lessons, and forbade wearing it in secular contexts. Only pupils (typically of eastern European extraction) who brought a note from home saying it was their custom could wear one all the time.

    PS anyone notice the blatant typo on the chart in the last segment of the video? Or is that an archaic spelling of carburettor that was still in use in the 50s? 😉

  21. Using photodetectavoice technology a friend of mine from army intelligence was able to establish that from the position of B Meyer’s lips he may have been whispering, “Vot a lot of Jewish pigs!”

  22. Just sent this to my Dad (Omek Marks – although his surname at the time was Siekiera, nickname ‘Sickie’…) and he’s in there along with his cousin Max Lemer (not sure where exactly though).

    He also told me about how he learned to drive in the school playground, so quite fun to see the footage – will catch up with him properly soon and see if he can come up with any other names.

  23. This is the definitive list of teachers – not second hand info’ – I was there, front row left hand section, 4th from the right in front of Rabbi Moher (with the beard!)
    from the left:
    Elman (maths) also taught me my barmi, Katzenberg (school secretary) his son Yitzy was in my class, Greenberg (geography), Rabbi Moher (JS) – I’m sitting in front of him, Lewis, Hymie (english) died only a couple of months ago, obituary in the JC, Wald (languages), Myer, Bert (hebrew), Frank (classics), WWS (Willy) (took me for A level history), Lewis, Doc (english), Balin, Sid (french), Denham (geography), Greenman (english), Rich, Reich (languages), Grossman,VW (maths), Cohen, Curly (history), Hinckley (science). There were also some additional part timers not in the photo.
    Somewhere in this photo is a Stephen Posen, a contemporary of mine, who I believe was a science teacher at the school for many years – maybe you can spot him if he was around when you were there.
    Hope you find this of interest.
    Allan, Mark is back row 19th from the right, in close up recognised by his ears. By the way thanks for the davening comments, courtesy of the renowned and terrifying scourge of all new boys, VW Grossman, 6th on right of Willy as you look at the photo, who was my 2nd year form master and who insisted that everyone took their turn in leading Mincha, which I had managed to avoid up till then, regardless of their fluency ” even if ve hav to shpend all ze avternoon here”.
    Mike, back row 17 from the right is Alfie Hecksher (my year) still to be seen, and recognisable, walking purposefully around GG.
    Mike /Johnny, this is definitely 1959, you have my guarantee – there may well have been a later one, someone must have one?
    Yes Willy had severe arthritis which effected everything with the exception of his vocal chords – boy could he yell, my first encounter with him was him screaming at some noisy pupils in the upstairs corridor near his office.
    A level history class was held in his office and we used to take odds (I’m sure he knew) on whether he would get the match he lighted his pipe with (yes the real old days) into the wastepaper bin which was stategically placed about 10 feet from where he was sitting, at the first painful throw.
    The lack of kippot wearing is an indication of the attitude of the day – everyone had to be halachically Jewish (in the strict sense) but the school was divided into those that were observant and those that weren’t and although Rabbi Schonfeld, the fire and brimstone principal, wanted more religious observance somehow the school managed a middle road. Of course after Willy went and the rabbonim got hold of the school the attitude changed dramatically – shame really because it served its purpose in those days by giving the likes of me and my friends some yiddishkite which has stayed with us in varying degrees since whereas now those that attend get it at home anyway and don’t need it at school as well.
    I suppose that the ensuing years have changed the needs as well as the attitudes.

  24. A small amendment. Doctor Levine – the Colonel Sanders character (this was well before KFC was discovered/founded) – instead of the repetition of Lewis. Was affectionately referred to as Dotty Levine.

  25. My dad (Omek Marks/Siekiera) has confirmed that he is sitting on the right of the teachers wearing what I guess is a prefect’s badge?

    Apparently Richard Desmond, future owner of the Daily Express and various pornography tv channels and magazines, is in this photo somewhere too. 🙂

  26. In true Hasmonean – or just plain Jewish? – style, Michael Wreschner (though admittedly through his son Raffi) and Robert Coe can’t even agree on the mere 17 teachers in their own school photograph!

    Robert has an additional Greenberg (between Katzenberg and Moher), Denham instead of Pomerance, Greenman instead of Greenbaum, Cohen instead of Cohn (suppose we can forgive that one!), and a previously unheard of Hinckley.

    If the photo was of the 1959 England Ashes squad, I’m sure there’d be no mistakes.

    Come on, boys . . . sort it out!

  27. Further info from my Dad:

    Dr Levine was a leading scholar on Syriac.He lectured on this at university and wrote what became the standard text book on the subject. It was only in semi retirement that he came to Hasmo.

    Kazenberg (the school secretary) was actually an industrialist, and decades before school academies, put in his time for free in helping look after the financial state of the school before it was taken over by the local authority (he agreed to allow my father to attend without paying the fees as my grandparents couldn’t afford it).

    Meyer, taught classical and modern Hebrew and led singing at assembly, taught my father for his barmitzvah but also would not accept payment as my grandparents could not afford to pay.

    Lewis who died earlier this year was a well known and published poet and Editor of a paper in South Africa. His obit was in the JC.

    Several class mates of my father’s went on to become leading academics around the world in their fields:

    Michael Issacharoff (died last year) was a Professor of French literature in Canada and then Israel

    Gabby Goldstein became a senior civil servant.

    Frank Posen became President of Monks shul, died a few years ago.

    Lionel Saunders became a professor of ancient history somewhere.

    Meir Persoff, who now lives in Israel, was deputy Editor JC; etc.

  28. Sorry for the mistakes – it’s been a long time.
    Yes Mike it should have been Greenbaum and not Greenman – he ended up Professor of English at Kings College London.
    Greenberg (I think that was his name)between Katzenberg and Moher – he taught geography
    It was Doc (Dotty ) Levine not Lewis (Col. Sanders look alike)
    Don’t remember a Pomerance in my day – Denham (between Balin and Greenbaum), I think it was, a “gair” married to one of Munk’s daughters.
    Hinckley, another “gair”, taught science but was only there for a short time
    Cohen/Cohn – I’m from Litvak stock and that’s how we spell it, not like the Yekers!
    Not sure about the Ashes, but Tottenham did finish 3rd behind Burnley and Wolves prior to their famous double of the 60/61 season – how times have changed!

  29. A slightly more serious note following on from Rober Coe’s comment;

    Some of us came from not-so-religious backgrounds and and the effect of Jewish Studies and History gave us a greater respect for our religion which we managed to put back into the community. In the current climate of ultra-orthordox education and lack of tolerance at Hasmonean this chance would not be available via an education there. I have not noticed too many black-hats and side-curls at functions raising funds for communal charities or Israel

  30. Anthony "Tiddles" Davidson

    Wow! This is quite something. Moish Katzenburg (and his son Yitzi) davened in front of us in shul (North Hendon) and quite a few of them were still around in my day (69-76).

  31. I was at the Hasmonean for 3 years, 1960-1963. I was probably the worst student the school ever had (David Kaye was in my class – 4b, 5b -. I “did” the fifth form twice and then left school. This great academic achievement didn’t stop me in later life from becoming an autodidactic in the field of Computers, wherein I taught computer-programming and computer-communications in 3 Israeli Universities and a Technical College).

    Mr. Cohn was known (affectionately) as Curly.

    Bert Myers was also the Detention Master: if you were put in detention, you stayed after school for an hour in a class-room where Bert was teaching some poor kid his Bar-Mitzvah reading.
    Such a detention hour would probably today be regarded as “cruel and unusual punishment”, and is probably banned by the Geneva Convention or the R.S.P.C.A..

    B.V. Grossman was treated badly by the school, and to this day I regret not interfering on his behalf – I had reason to.

    Gerald Gerber (Dr.) now resides in an Ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood in Jerusalem, and for over a year now I’ve been planning to visit him, together with Gabby Handler (we daven in the same shul).

    I will always remember Sid Beilin for his famous “I remember my grandfather, zecher leyetziat mitzrayim …”

    2 Students I’ve seen in the last few years: Ivor Mindel – lives in Belgium; Menachem Persoff lives in a settlement south of Jerusalem.

  32. Re that lengthy school photograph, I’m an amateur digital photographer; if someone could send me a reasonable copy I would divide it into a number of sections that could be displayed here in a manner that would afford recognition of the individual inmates who inhabited the school at that time …

  33. Please see the new close-up enabling links above!

    A huge thanks for the time and effort of my cousin, Adrian Reiss.

  34. Regarding the Masters, I’ve managed to identify
    13 out of 17, David Israel being a query. I was in Hasmo 1960-1963, i.e. I joined a year after the photo was taken (assuming 1959).
    The line-up as I see it, from left to right, is as follows:
    Ellman, Katzenberg, Bernie Steinberg, David Israel (?), Hymie Lewis, Unknown, Bert Myers, Frank, Willy Stanton, “Dottie” Levene, Sid Bailin, unknown, Zalmi Greenbaum, unknown, B.V. Grossman, “Curly” Cohen, unknown.

    The first unknown from the left looks like Terry-Thomas, but I don’t think TT taught at Hasmo.
    Three masters I don’t see are Bonk (Jewish Studies, his name was Monk) “Jerk” Yorker (P.T. and Woodwork – what a combination!), and Rothschild (Art teacher).

  35. Adrian Reiss mystery guests are:
    Not David Israel (whoever he was)but Rabbi Moher (from Manchester),Mr Wald,Mr Denham (I think but someone else says is a Mr Pomerance?),Mr Rich and Mr Hinckley.
    I stand corrected on Berni Steinberg (geography) who I mistakenly referred to as Greenberg.

  36. Thanks Robert,
    BTW, were you the guy who usually came to school in a bowler hat in the 6th form?

  37. Er, no Adrian, had some strange characters, but not that strange! Are you sure you’re not confusing it with a streimal!

  38. No, there was definitely one 6th former, circa 1962 or 1963, who regularly came to school in a bowler.

  39. On the subject of strange clothing, I recall a certain Rabbi Freilech being exceedingly well dressed. I seem to remember him having a cuff-link that was also a watch, though it may be that I’m confusing it with an early James Bond movie.

    Either way he was, like most of his colleagues, an extremely dodgy pedagogue, but had a wonderfully archaic, 1920s vocabulary. When asked on one occasion, about the cuff-link, our hero replied:

    “I am not here to discuss matters of personal attire.” – Nice sentence, eh?

    Later in the same lesson someone lobbed a banana peel that either hit him or came close to doing so, (another memory lapse on my part). An investigation ensued, but neither would the perpetrator come clean nor would any of his classmates “sneak”. In a not uncommon moment of frustration, we were reprimanded with the cruel words:

    “You’re all a bunch of rotters!”

    This was no longer Hasmonean, it was Greyfriars and we were Billy Bunter and his chums. What a frightfully roguish wag it had been.

  40. According to an unreliable source, Daniel Kelly (of cleverer Hasmo brother fame) . . .

    “Joseph Kahan who joined in 1959 thought the boy in the front row, three to our left of Stanton with sandals on might be Dr Lionel Finkelstein.” (Section 4 of photograph)

    Any ex-Hasmos care to confirm or deny (or to speculate)?

  41. No Joseph Kahan is definitely mistaken. The guy he refers to, sitting immediately to the right of me, is not Lionel Finklestein, who was a couple of years younger than me, at least, and therefore would not have been at the Hasmonean in 1959. The guys name is ? Herman, who was in my year. Sitting to the left of me is Ivor Mindel. and to the left of him is Richard Finemesser (recently sadly, I believe, deceased).
    I think that the guy sitting in the front row, right hand section, 8th one along is Stephen Posen who taught chemistry at the school for a number of years, and may well be recognised by many of your “listeners”.

  42. Biology, Robert.

    Do you mean the one second from the left in Section 7? Have to say, he looks no more like Steve than the other kid does “Flop”!

  43. No Mike – I mean the first on the left in Section 6. Remember you have to put a beard on him.
    By the way, the 4th on the left in the same section is Yitzy Katzenberg – the school secretary’s son. Looks a bit different now in full battle dress.
    These guys were the same year (second at the school when this photo was taken) as me.

  44. Benjy Richman

    I just received this. I actually also have the original but this is terrific in close up. I am in section 8 row 2 from the top and 2 from the right. You will notice that I had spent a long time getting my cap on at the correct angle so that you could see my quiff , which is now zecher l’yeztiat mitzraim as Balin would have said. It is certainly 1959 and taken in July. The date appears on the original. I was there 56-61 and that photo is one of my most cherished possessions.
    Many thanks to Robert and Adrian

  45. Mike, I have often looked at this photo and thought what a good idea it would be to create an index to see how many of the participants could be named. If you could get one created and put up on the site I will get the ball rolling.
    Just an idea!

  46. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Facinated by all the comments which bring back wonderful memories. I was in the photograph and amazed at being remembered by Simon Marks. Incidentally, I reside in Montreal. The school, I suspect, was very different from a religious point-of-view in those days. Most pupils did wear kippot. However, a quite critical approach to Jewish history was adopted. Thus a GCE O level option was Religious knowledge. The focus of this option was Biblical and post Biblical history. Texts were non Jewish (eg the Cambridge Bible) and questions set, of course, by non-Jews.
    Mr E.J. Frank, as well as being Classics teacher, stimulated musical interests at the school and drama performances, involving both the boys and girls school. A wonderful man! So too were Dr Levine and Zalman Greenbaum.
    My memories of Willie were not pleasant. He inspired terror in me

  47. Apologies to Mr Sanders for spelling his name wrong and just to clarify – I wasn’t born until 1972, so those were the memories of my father Omek ‘Sickie Siekiera’ Marks (who is following this thread, too).

  48. Mike, I deduce from your non response that you clearly didn’t go a bundle on my idea of trying to name all those in the 1959 photo!

  49. Lionel Jehuda sanders

    Reading all this has revived long lost memories of the teaching staff. Thus I recall the scandal regarding a collection for Dr Levine who had fallen between the cracks and somehow not received a pension. Evidently he was living in abject poverty and we received letters asking us to contribute towards a monetary gift. Naturally, he was furious and refused to accept what he perceived as charity. Now here’s the rub. None of the contributors received their money back and nothing more was heard of the fund.

    Wald was a strange fellow with a thick Roumanian accent. Once when teaching a woodwork class, some pupil messed up a piece of plywood. He was shaken violently by Wald, who screamed at the lad: “What do you think? Wood grows on trees”.

  50. I can think of worse places to fall.

    Robert, I wouldn’t want to interfere with your suggested enterprise. It’s just that I have no idea how to create an index, other than just making a list, row by row, consisting of names and question marks. But, seeing as there are around 500 boys and teachers in the photograph, it won’t be easy.

    On the subject of Willy Stanton, would any of you “old boys” be interested in writing, or collaborating on, a piece on him? I was discussing the matter with my learned colleague, Daniel Marks, at the weekend, and we agreed that someone from an earlier generation of Hasmos would be more able to do the man credit. Please be in touch if you are interested.

  51. Mike, noted, I’ll see what I can do.

  52. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Notwithstanding the fact that I left HGS almost fifty years ago, I still have vivid memories of W.W.Stanton. My impressions are mixed.

    He was without doubt a first class History teacher. Indeed, I regard all who experienced WWS’s inspired teaching of 19th century British History as singularly fortunate .

    My recollections of his personality are less positive. Probably his foul temper stemmed from his extreme arthritic condition. But far worse than his temper was his really bitter sarcasm. I have been told that he later mellowed. If that was the case, those that came after me were indeed fortunate. I note that he was not above reproving staff in front of pupils – highly embarrassing . I also recall him once announcing to the school assembly that he had asked the woman who lived near the bus stop, whose flowers had been trampled upon by some boys, to acquire a dog. He ended by expressing the fervent hope that the said dog would bite school delinquents.

    I have often wondered what his relations with his staff, many of whom, in my view, were gentler and singularly more humane than he, were. From conversations with a cousin who taught in the girls school, it seems that he was not overtly fond of his deputy head, a truly gentle and amiable person. His chief criticism of this person was that he spent too much time with pupils on extra curricular happenings such as gramophone recitals, trips to the Sadlers Wells opera and walking tours. I suspect the green eyed monster at play here.

    To end on the positive, I am grateful for the relatively moderate religious atmosphere of the late 50s which prevailed at the school, which, I am sure, he did a great deal to promote.

    Notwithstanding the above atmosphere of religious moderation, what was surprising was the minimal promotion of Zionism, possibly opposition to it. Probably Rabbi Schonfeld’s Aguda leanings and the Hirschian Yekish origins of the school were at play here and WWS could not oppose this tendency.

  53. Lionel Saunders memories of Willie reminded me of a comment made by his daughter to the effect that her father said that if he had his life over again he would still wish to be the headmaster of a school but only if it was an orphange!

    There was indeed an atmosphere of religious moderation and as I have commented previously had the effect, when combined with the Jewish teaching, of imbuing a respect for Judaism in the not-so-orthordox pupils.

    The comments about Deputy Headmaster Frank
    are correct ; he added outside culture to the overwhelming Jewish one we were subjected to. I recall his trips to the Old Vic, The Goon Show and many concerts. This combined with enthusiastic teachers of English Literature like Hyman Lewis showed that there was life and learning outside the Golders Green Ghetto.

    There was a distict lack of Zionistic fervour but at least the Hatikvah was sung regularly; a tradition I believe is now frowned upon.

  54. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    I am gratified that David Kaye shares my high opinion of E.J.Frank, deputy head at the school for many years. He was a gentle soul, an extremely learned man who bore his erudition with great modesty. Though his orthodox religious feelings were deep and sincere, he never descended to bigotry. Indeed, I remember vividly his anger ( a rare occurence) once on a walking tour with a young lad who spoke disparagingly about Reform and Liberal rabbis. He reminded the boy of the simple fact that Reform and Liberal Jews, even if they were not orthodox, were sincere Jews who deserved our respect. He spoke particularly highly of a friend who was a Liberal Rabbi, Leslie Edgar, who had been chaplain in the army with him and had been a preeminent figure in Anglo-Jewry, known particularly for his humanitarian work. Such religious tolerance, I fear, is sadly very much a thing of the past and is probably not encountered these days in HHS.

  55. “Reform and Liberal Jews . . . sincere Jews who deserved our respect.”

    Steady on, Lionel – some of the commenters to melchett mike, many older than me (I left Hasmo in 1985), have been known to issue fatwas for statements like that!

    Perhaps indicating that a true spirit of “religious tolerance” has not been encountered at HHS for a very long time indeed.

  56. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Sorry Mike! But I assume that Has. Legends has insurance against any mishaps from fatwas. Technically, however, I should be safe from the fatwas, given that I was not enunciating my own view and simply reporting the view of deputy head E.J. Frank. However, it would be more than a little dishonest of me to deny my sympathy with EJF’s viewpoint. At the point that I left, changes were clearly in the air. Hence I remember Michael Weitzman z’l telling me that he had been sternly reproved by a member of the rabbinical staff for acting as Baal Koreh at Louis Jacobs’ New London Synagogue.

  57. My memories of HGS, from the 70s, is actually of an establishment whose student body enjoyed a large measure of religious toleration and pluralism, as long as one’s views were not translated into actions.

    I enjoyed very open discussions with the more intelligent members of staff, such as Richard Rosten and Jack Ordman, and in general it was legitimate to question, even the very existence of G-d, as long as you davened properly at minchah. Gerry Gerber was never my teacher, although we once had a tuppeny ha’penny theological discussion with him and after all I had heard of his genius, I remember feeling a little short-changed.

    There were, of course, lesser intellects who tried their hands at theology too. I remember one rabbi (name withheld) who used the fact that G-d knew that Issac would be a boy, while with all the technology and science (in 1976) man had no idea if a pregnant woman would bear a male or female child as an irrefutable proof of G-d’s power. I thought of that rabbi when I saw my first child’s ultrasound.

    Interestingly, there were some Gateshead graduates who appeared to borrow proofs of G-d’s existence from Christian thinkers of their day, arguing that the chance of this world coming about by accident was tantamount to a printing press blowing up and the random splattering of ink on paper creating an Encyclopedia Britannica. It wasn’t too convincing then either.

    I once brought a New Testament to school, which Steve Posen publicly burnt in the playground, however, I wasn’t punished (for once). I have faded recollections of Osher Baddiel trying to heckle guest speaker MP Greville Janner, the latter’s Cambridge-Harvard debating skills were more than enough to make short work of a still inarticulate ex-Hasmo. Doubtless the Osher of 2010 would be far more intellectually equipped with interesting words like “dregs” and clever one-liners, “You’ve got four drunken dogs!”

    In short HGS of the 1970s was no Speakers Corner, but bearing in mind that it was founded by a leader of Adath Yisroel Synagogue, I believe that there was much more tolerance than might have been expected.

  58. “Boys, whenever you take the Tube, don’t stand too close to the tracks, because there could always be a goy who is looking to push you on.”

    (The otherwise lovely, and relatively moderate, Rabbi Schmahl, circa 1983.)

  59. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Things have certainly changed since the sixties. In my day, the rabbis were certainly far less powerful. I remember with fondness and some amusement Rabbi Wilschanski -a fundamentally good hearted man who simply was unable to manage a class and, notwithstanding a one-man campaign to lodge kippot firmly on the heads of the boys, never got involved with heavy power politics.. Equally ineffective was Rabbi Wahrhaftig. The one real thinker, in my opinion, was Rabbi Getzel Ellinson , a man with an acid tongue, a product of Gateshead yeshiva who never ceased to denounce the weaknesses and failings of that institution. He inevitably went on to greener pastures -Bar Ilan university- and made a name for himself as an authority on women and the halacha. (he passed away tragically in a road accident in Eilat). There was also an interesting figure, a rabbi Posner who left for the USA and a job within the Conservative movement.

  60. Finding this website is indeed a revelation and a pleasant surprise. Although much of the posts are from the early 60’s on, a lot of names and facts have a connection with me.
    I joined Hasmo in September 1953 and left in July 1959. So much water flowed under the bridge in those 6 years. It is all so vivid, so much happened, so many friends, so many memories. I don’t where to start.
    I remember my first assembly in an old wooden hall, demolished in1954. Mr Stanton ( Willy as he later known to us new boys). We were then marched off to our class room. This was on the left as you came in from the porch entrance which was underneath MrStantons office, shaped a bit like a octagonal tower. (I believe this room is now a cloakroom/toilet) Our form was known as 2 Lower, and our form master was a Mr Grossman.
    If people out there are interested in my story I will gladly continue, please let me know.


  61. Jeff, please continue!

  62. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Jeff Vernon’s message reminded me of two points.
    First Mr Grossman of lower 2 had a truly nasty personality and temper, whence the nickname Adolf given him was not inappropriate.
    Second, the reference to the toilet/cloakroom in the tower reminded me of the window there with what looked like a bullet hole. Legend maintained that at the time of the previous school occupying the Holders Hill premises, a teacher had blown a fuse and tried to shoot an offending pupil. Hence the bullet hole. If this was the case, I suppose that we can conclude that HGS as it was then called was a distinct improvement on the previous occupants. To the best of my knowledge, notwithstanding the odd sadistic teacher or two, there have been no trigger happy staff at HGS or HHS.

  63. “Boys, whenever you take the Tube, don’t stand too close to the tracks, because there could always be a goy who is looking to push you on.”

    This reminds me of WW telling an assembly that you should always run away from goyim, even if you outnumber them or are bigger. This was because there could be more, larger goyim hiding, and waiting in ambush.

    Clever lot – those goyim!

  64. So, Lionel, would you say that Hitler’s salient characteristics were his “truly nasty personality and temper”? 😉

    There might not have been any “trigger (cf. slipper) happy staff at HGS”, but did you not hear about the pupil who lived opposite the school who, in the mid-eighties, took a potshot at Rabbi Roberg in the headmaster’s office?

  65. Mr Grossman or Grossy and later on hitler appeared quite an amiable chap at first but quickly established his reputation of being tough,fearsome with an occasional glimmer of humanity ( remember we were only 10 years old and could not really understand the man and his motives). The overall effect of this was to keep us all in a constant state of fear.Woe betide the poor kid who did not do his home work or did not do it good enough. I remember the unfortunate kid would have to do a particular calculation on the blackboard and would receive various insults or worse until he either got it right or was eventually allowed back to his seat feeling a lot worse for wear. Sometimes when a poor kid was late or took a day off he could be in for grilling as to why etc, you had to be quick with your answers, and be truthful or else. He seemed to have a knack for sussing out the liars and cheats. On a personal level, I was not the best of his pupils in terms of his arithmetic standards but he had a soft spot for me and out of school hours was very friendly and helpful. I think his motives were entirely genuine; all he wanted to do was to get us to an acceptable standard for the then 11 plus exam. Even when we were in the upper 5th form we all still had a healthy respect for him. I do not know how long he stayed in the school, and read from a poster that he was treated badly later on. I would be very interested to find out more on this.
    I’ll write some more after Shabbat
    I have deliberately not put the more negative aspects in the above as I don’t want to on the receiving end of any libel action!!

  66. Jeff Vernon is right about Mr Grossman. I had private lessons with him after getting bad scores in my mock O levels and his patience and clarity of explanation combined with the occasional clip around the ear enabled me to pass the real exam.

    May I suggest to Mike Melchett that it would be interesting to enquire of the regular readers of this blog whether or not they sent their sons to Hasmonean and their reasons for doing or not doing so.

  67. In response to David Kaye regarding sending sons to Hasmo. We applied to the school in the early 90’s. On entering the school after nearly 40 years I was surprised to see how little it had changed, there was no major refurbishments, although the John Clayman building had been replaced, together with a new central section where the old small Synagogue used to be. Other than that the original old building appeared to be in the same Victorian state as I knew it. We had our interview which seemed to be more concerned about our religious standards than our sons academic background. The result of it was that in spite of my earlier connection with school etc etc , they felt that our religious standards fell short of their expectations. My son was rejected. My wife was not happy and appealed to the Barnet education authority. ( We pay our council tax , and the school is state funded so surely they would see it in another light). Not so. We subsequently returned to the school to have a meeting with the council and the school representatives. Having heard both sides of the case, the charming lady from Barnet concluded that because we didn’t seem to be religious enough, they ( Barnet ) had no power to intervene. So we the tax payer fund the school and yet they can choose who they want or reject for any reason and the authority who pays their bills etc have no say at all. A similar situation exists today with another Jewish school, although the circumstances are not quite the same, it has attracted a great deal of publicity. Our son went to Immanuel College where he did very well.

  68. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Really Mike, are not nicknames by their very nature exagerrations and distortions? Hence Adolph for Grossman need not be taken too literally.

    I should love to hear more from you about the pupil who took a popshot at Roberg. What was the motive? What was the impact on school morale and on Rabbi Roberg. Was it reported in the JC?

    The report by Jeff Vernon makes very sad reading, suggesting among other things, great insecurity on the part of the rabbis at the school. Were I living in London with children of school age, I would not dream of seeking my childrens’ acceptance in HHS with its current climate. I write so with sadness given my fundamentally positive experiences there and later happy memories.

  69. David Kaye asks Melchettmike readers whether we’d send our children to Hasmonean. For the record, I live in Israel and my eldest son studied in Netiv Meir and my two daughters at Pelech. My youngest is still in the 5th grade, but he won’t be studying at Netiv Meir.

    I’ve heard a lot of contradictory accounts of Hasmonean, but really have no idea what’s going on there in 2010 (three decades after I left). However, I would say three things:

    1. In general I think that if I had stayed in England it would have been an expression of my desire to further assimilate into that society. In which case I think I would have chosen a good non-Jewish school where my children would have been taught to respect and love their queen, their country, their language, their history and their heritage. These were things that I was rarely taught at Hasmonean, at least by many Jewish teachers.

    2. On the hypothetical assumption that Hasmonean today is exactly as it was thirty years ago, I would not recommend it to any parent who loves his children even slightly.

    3. If we’re talking about fun, I too, had seven great years at Hasmonean and have numerous happy memories. Sadly, many of those self-same delightful reminisces were to become the nightmares that would haunt the slumbers of the HGS staff of the 1970s.

  70. As I made the initial enquiry of sending our sons to Hasmonean I feel I should state what my actions were in that area some 17 years ago when our son reached 12.

    On the erronoeous assumption that it was parents who made the choice where their children should be schooled, we decided not to send our son to my alma-mater due to the various changes in emphasis we are all aware of.

    He was sent to the complete opposite ,Harrow, where he came out a proud Englishman and Jew,thanks partially to the regular visits from a rabbi plus his parents gently indocrinating him. He did not gain the knowledge and respect for Jewish learning we picked up during our stay at Hasmonean which does not make me totally happy. I would have far preferred him to have had a rounded education at a jewish school which hopefully would have benefited him as it did me and many others.

  71. Frankly, I had thought that David Kaye had been envoking sarcasm in saying that his son “..did not gain the knowledge and respect for Jewish learning we picked up during our stay at Hasmonean..”, but it transpired that he was being completely serious.

    Good grief David! Did we study at the same school?

    My only message to David would be to take off a year and come and spend it in a yeshivah. If at Hasmonean you think that you acquired a “..knowledge and respect for Jewish learning…”, imagine how you’d relish in a taster of the real thing.

    Finally, I’m glad that the young Kaye is a “.. a proud Englishman and Jew..” I’ve always prefered the proud Englishmen to the self-hating frumers of the galut who often seem to be in a permanent state of denial as to their Anglo-Saxon identity and British heritage.

  72. In response to David Kaye’s question, one of the reasons I made Aliya was so I would not have to send my children to Hasmonean.
    Thank G-d, neither of my sons will be enrolled for Hasmo (or for Harrow).

  73. Lionel, re the potshot at Roberg, I refer you to Steve Graniewitz’s comment of June 4, 2009 to Hasmo Legends XI:

    “The Roberg shooting wasn’t in the early 90s it was in 1987.

    The window to Rabbi Roberg’s office was open and his secretary was next to his desk when she felt a sharp pain in her hand. She thought that a bee had stung her but it turned out to be an air gun pellet.

    The story was reported in the JC as an anti-semitic attack but the next week, Giora Nassim (who used to take particular offence to us singing the Kia-Ora advert to him) owned up that he had been the shooter from the book depository (or his bedroom) that happened to be directly opposite Roberg’s office.

    I remember asking him why he did it and he said that he was bored… so that was alright then.”

    Please step forward, Giora Nassim . . .

  74. ..one of the reasons I made Aliya was so I would not have to send my children to Hasmonean..”

    I understand where Aharon is coming from. Two years ago my youngest son (8 then) was hospitalized in Haddasah Mount Scopus and I spent a very enjoyable Shabbat there with him there.

    Among several admirable yeshiva boys who were volunteering there was a very nice-looking and intelligent ex-Hasmo who was spending a year in yeshiva in Israel. We chatted briefly.

    It gave me a chance to see how my elder son (Amichai) might have turned out had I not made aliyah. I don’t remember the lads name, but there was nothing wrong with him or his education. He didn’t had an Israeli yeshiva high school background but he could learn gemara and did so with great enthusiasm.

    He hadn’t served in the IDF and had no plans to do so. He was planning to study law somewhere in the UK, Amichai is studying it in Bar Ilan. Maybe he’ll live in Golders Green or Edgware and give his children Israeli names. Maybe he’ll buy an apartment in Ra’anana and visit when he gets the chance. He probably won’t make aliyah, because he can’t leave his parents, his kids won’t make aliyah because they won’t be able to leave him.

    I felt no anger towards him as I did to those of my generation who stayed behind. It just occurred to me that we only get one life and he was going to be wasting his in the galut.

  75. Daniel
    That wasn’t my point. Even if Hasmo was transplanted to Israel, I would not want to subject my children to a Hasmo education. Sure we all had a laugh for 7 years and made lots of friends but I can hardly describe the school as providing a broad education. Also, I don’t identify with the much of the school’s values or with the Counsel of Sages who set them. I understand that the school of today is different to that of the 1980s but the J.S.S.M. is probably run on similar lines. Is David Meyer still the headteacher?

  76. The reponses to my question as to which of us sent our sons to Hasmonean have been mainly negative.

    Those of us who attended in the the late 50’s – early 60’s seem to have better memories than later attendees. This may well be due to the steadily rising right-wing religious pressure on the curriculum and on the teachers. I have a view that the early masters, both in secular and religious studies, had been witness to the Nazi era and had a more moderate orthordox view which fell by the wayside in the school as they retired .

  77. Continuing my thoughts/narrative I can only say that during my 6 years at the school, we as youngsters could not grasp the sometimes sheer absurdity and bigotry that was commonplace. Willy (Walter) telling us that there is no need for out of hours activities such as clubs, scouts etc as the school provides it all. (They did so long as you were happy about learning more Torah or Jewish studies after school hours). Or the time Willy came into our class. We were then 16 year olds. The message was in effect, you are of school leaving age and anyone who wants to leave just see me later and I’ll arrange for you to go! You are all less than useless and will never achieve anything, no hard feelings. This was the attitude from the top. Regarding the religious attitude, I felt that it was a sore point that many of us weren’t frum, but so long as you obeyed the rules and didn’t antagonize the obviously religious teachers in that respect you were ok. I myself absorbed a lot of Jewish knowledge which I keep with me to this day, but never learnt any Hebrew. That situation wouldn’t be tolerated today. I started off being quite enthusiastic about chemistry, we had a good teacher called Mr Feurtig. He went to America and all the subsequent teachers were temps who didn’t give a toss, hence chemistry was a lost cause. On the other hand we had an excellent Physics teacher called Mr Fiest, a short man with a ginger beard, he very marvelous and I was very good at Physics. (I think his sister was in charge of the catering at the girls school in Parson Street). Sadly some of the teaching was awful as was the general attitude towards us kids. But that’s how it was then.

  78. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    David Kay’s point about the possibility that the European experiences of the teachers of the fifties might have made them more tolerant than their successors makes sense. At the same time, the fact that many of them came from a German cultural environment, especially a Hirschian one, with its ideal of Torah im Derech Eretz could have exerted a powerful influence on them. The fact also is that E.J.. Frank, Dr Levine and Chaim Lewis were men of broad culture. It is also noteworthy that B. Rich, Zalman (Sid) Greenbaum and R.Grunberger (he arrived after my departure) excelled academically after leaving HGS.

    What happened in the late sixties and following period simply reflected what transpired in the Jewish world as a whole ie a dramatic drift to the right and towards religious fundamentalism. Stanton obviously was unable to fight this trend, which solidified under Rabbi Roberg. Gateshead thus ultimately triumphed over academia

    Many of the staff including WWS certainly evoke a Dickensian image. I seem to remember that Elman and Grossman roughed kids up, while Bert Myers had a tendency to twist ears excessively. Legend maintained that former hasmaniacs could be recognized by their contorted ears -the result of Bert’s experimentation. I have to say that, notwithstanding this unpleasant trait, Bert had a more positive side. He worked hard with Bar Mitzva boys and I personally enjoyed chatting with him about classical music and the latest recordings.

  79. Henry Sudwarts

    How about a new blogger on this site. I am a very old Hasmonean, starting at Hasmonean Primary (later Preparatory) School in 1947 in Shirehall Lane, Hendon and then on to the Grammar School in 1953. Jeff Vernon I do remember you from 2 Lower with BV Grossman (Uncle Adolph) as our class master. I left Hasmonean in 1961. I am on the photograph, close to Moshe Elman who taught maths.

    I agree with Jeff Vernon and Lionel Yehuda Sanders observations about the teachers. Many were scarred by their holocaust experiences and most had a touch of madness. Notwithstanding that the school was a bit like a great somewhat disfunctional family.

    Rabbi Schonfeld set the tone. His WW2 exploits, often severely endangering himself but saving many Jewish children are well documented. Maybe you need to be a bit crazy to do what he did, nevertheless a good man if somewhat unbalanced.

    W W Stanton’s rigid disciplinarian approach acted as a counterbalance to Schonfeld’s wild pronouncements and ideas. I agree, entirely that Eric Joseph Frank was a wonderful man who inculcated me with a love of the arts, theatre, music etc. He was a noted scholar and a real gentleman.

    Some othe other teachers, not often mentioned are Paul Meyer (PT) who managed to make me loath sports and atheletics to this day. Our wonderful revered art teacher, Rothschild was just the opposite. He opened my eyes to the visual arts.

    The tolerance that the school displayed towards students who came from non-orthodox homes was excellent, allowing them to come in contact with Jewish practice, not found at home. It is very sad that, today we have moved towards fundementalism and religious intolerance.

    I have lived in Cape Town, South Africa, for the past thirty years, so none of my children attended Hasmonean.

    However, my brother and several cousins are all ex-Hasmos (boys and girls) and despite all its severe shortcomings, it did give us a solid Jewish identity and that is something to cherish.

  80. Out of interest, the handsome thin(ish) boy in close-up of his right side is me.

    The featured driver was Sam Deutsch and the teacher was a Mr. Boothby. We were the first in the country to learn driving before the age of 17 – hence driving within private grounds. I took the test 2 months after my 17th birthday and passed, so being, I have always supposed, the youngest person to have passed.

    Regarding kippot: in those days, many at school did not wear them, so the film is genuine. That’s how it was: open, intellectually free in an atmosphere that did not shut out those who were not religious. And encouraged Zionism.

    Pity it changed to what it is today.

  81. Michael Goldman

    Hallo Everybody
    It is truly amazing that after fifty odd years, memories of ones old school can still be so sharp, the old saying seems to be true, one never forgets a teacher, good or bad, therefore in ones formative years, it is important to have teachers that are capable of teaching. I cannot help thinking that some of the lighthearted and jovial remarks expressed by certain past students were made in order to conceal from themselves how they truly felt at the time.Just for the record , I am also in Robert Coe’s school photograph ( I also have a copy) and am standing in the back row next to Michael Schama.
    The comments made by someone regarding the fact that a lot of the teachers had survived the Nazi era , and as a result I contend, were unfit to teach young boys.They had been through too much.What a wonderfull medium the internet is.Firstly, if i may, I would like to recall my memories of the teachers , or as they liked to be called, Masters.
    Mr Steinberg-Geography-First Class Teacher
    Dr Levine-English-Wonderfull Man, Loved by all,was sorry to read that he had financial problems.
    Mr Albert Myer–Wonderful, Taught me my Bar Mitzva and Modern Hebrew in which I excelled.
    Mr Frank-Deputy Head. Excellent, Gave Michael Weitzman ( our resident genius) private lessons in the school library.
    Mr Wald-Good Man but average teacher.
    Mr Rothchild-Art-what can I say-good if you had any artistic talent.
    Mr WW Stanton-Headmaster-A good man who I shall always be grateful to.
    Rabbi Werhaftig- Lovely Man, really enjoyed his lessons.
    Rabbi Wershanski-Lovely Man
    Greenbaum-Not a pleasant individual for reasons I choose not to reveal.
    Balin-Terrible teacher,always on a short fuse,used to spit peanuts whilst speaking.
    Cohen/Cohn-History-Terrible teacher, spoke in a monotone, used to send us to sleep.
    Yorker. PE-Was not fit to teach young boys.
    David Kaye asks the question, Would you send your children to the Hasmonean? Hi David , I remember you well as a cheeful nice guy. Well my answer is No. I remember the Hasmo as being a rather unhealthy place. I do agree that it gave me a sense of Jewish Identity that served me well in later life, however my son, bless him, is now compleating his second year in Yeshiva, and is a lot more frum than myself, received a good Jewish education without havingto attend the Hasmo.
    Jeff Vernon, who I do not know, writes, 12th Feb 2010, that he would like to know why GROSSMAN was treated so badly by the school. Well i will tell him and anyone else that is interested.I hope my comments will be shown on their entirety [melchett mike: they are not being, as a result of Michael Goldman’s failure to reply to my e-mails requesting clarification of his, now partially edited, allegations], because therein lies the truth and I have no reason to lie.
    GROSSMAN was not treated badly by the School, on the contrary, he was let off lightly.If the truth had come out, his behavour could have ruined the School! Why do you think he went quietly? He was gratefull the school did not make a fuss.
    GROSSMAN was a man I knew very well. My father employed him to give me private lessons before I joined the school.Not only did GROSSMAN absolutly terrorise the class, he also played mind games with 11 year olds.
    He turned the stationary room into his own private office, in addition to that he was also known as the school’s MEDICAL OFFICER, whatever that was supposed to mean.
    The truth about Grossman’s departure from the school came out many years after I had left. Quite by chance, I met an ex hasmo man at work. Whilst chatting one day he told me that he had studied at the Hasmo.I asked him if he had known Grossman , whereupon he told me the following.
    He had misbehaved one day and was sent to stand outside the headmasters study as a punishment. He could not believe what he had heard.
    What Grossman had been doing for years had finally come out.I was not surprised to hear this, I was only surprised that he had got away with it for so long

  82. The teacher review by Michael Goldman was pretty much on the button; though I too had private lessons with Grossman with no bad experiences.
    Michael, I hope that I am still a nice cheerful chap and thank you for the compliment.


  83. With the renewed interest in this photo I would still like to see whether, through a combined effort, we would be able to name everyone and create an index. I could name about 50 and have an outline picture which needs populating.

  84. jeff vernon

    After a long period of silence I was pleased to find that the forum is active again. I was interested to read Michael Goldman’s post regarding Mr Grossman. Before that I must state that although Michael did not know me, I do remember him, he has either a brother or cousin called Stuart, was good at football and was a nice chap (like me?). I seem to remember that Grossman commented on his Hebrew pronunciation which was Sephardi.

    This is just a flash of perhaps fragmented memory from the distant past (1953).

    Regarding Mr Grossman, it was not me who suggested that he was treated badly by the school; I only referred to someone else who remarked on that point. Although I did state that I found him ok personally, but this was probably because as young as I was then (10), I instinctively realized that I just had to keep a low profile, not get into any scrapes, always answer his questions carefully, never incriminate anyone. (Part of his methodology was to pretend that he knew everything, so you might as well fill me in with the details, when in fact he didn’t know at all). He did instill fear into us, why he was like this I do not know, but deep down I believe there was a softer side to him, and his schoolroom technique was a misplaced assumption that this was the best way to get the kids to learn and achieve the best standards which he genuinely wanted us to attain. Reading the last part of Michael’s post I get the vague impression that there might have been a more sinister under current which I hope in today’s world would not have been heard in court. I do not know what happened to him or any other staff at the school; I left in July 1959 and never really had much contact with anyone from the school after that time. I hope this post finds everyone well and would love to read further contributions about this or any other topic relating to the school.


  85. Stewart Block

    I have a L VI ‘photo from 1962/63 with names of every boy and those who weren’t there. If I can scan it, who do I send it to?
    Stewart Block 1957/64 & Hasmo Primary 1950/57

  86. Michael Zysblat

    Hi everyone, I have just downloaded Robert Coe’s picture in its 8 Sections. Oh such happy memories.
    I am in Section 3 2nd Row 3 along next to my first cousin Shimmy Eisenberg. I was youngest in class. The class Register finished Vegoda, Weiniger, Zlotogorski and Zysblat!
    I used to sit next to Robert Coe in class for a time.
    My sons and now one of my grandsons went and is going to Hasmo. They all enjoy(ed) school.
    I have tried to find in the photo classmates Joey Freudman, Michael Samad, Harvey Rosenblatt, Paul Vegoda and Michael Harper but cannot locate them. Anyone help?
    There are many stories to tell of the teachers and I will post some in the future when I have more time. Anyone remember the Wald jacket inkspot incident?
    On that cryptic note, I will leave you for the moment.

  87. Leon Magar

    I have only just read the remarkable entry by Michael Goldman dated April 21st 2012 timed at 11.34pm concerning a review of the teachers at the school in the 1950’s and especially the detailed description of Mr Grossman the maths teacher.

    I am 70 years old now and thank G-D have been very successful in life albeit a very late developer having left the Hasmo with no qualifications whatsoever, mainly due to my desire to leave as soon as I reached the tender age of 15 mainly as a direct result of my nightmarish experiences in the clutches of Grossman.

    Even now I have nightmares of my time in the company of this man who can only be described as a class A paedophile and mentally unstable bully and thug!

    Yes I was a very average student but that did not excuse his constant demonic treatment of myself and one or two other unfortunates, in one case an actual sexual assault when maneuvering me into position in an empty classroom for what I thought was for the purpose of caning me simply for talking on the then school lawns waiting to bat at cricket.

    I was also constantly physically assaulted by this man in the classroom where once he managed to break my nose and at another time smashed my bottom lip open which resulted in a blood-covered hankie.

    The constant fear than this man instilled in a boy aged between 13-15 was so immense that when my parents asked me why I had suffered the facial injuries and the ‘surreal caning session’ I told them it was a result of playground fights and misbehaviour in class.

    I regularly cried myself to sleep because of the appalling treatment by this man and all this ONLY SOME 10 YEARS AFTER 6 MILLION JEWS PERISHED IN THE HOLOCAUST. It frankly beggars belief!

    My final last day memory of the school was being called into Mr Stanton’s study with the sinister figure of Grossman standing behind him (he was then acting Deputy Head) following the forced retirement of dear Mr Frank due I think to ill health.

    Stanton told me I was a nice sociable chap but frankly my school record told him that I would really unlikely to achieve anything in life!

    I retired in 1999 having been Chairman of an international public company employing over 8000 people in over 50 countries worldwide!

    More importantly I have been blessed with being married to my wonderful wife and partner for 50 years and have 3 very successful children and six fabulous grandchildren all doing far better than I at their respective schools.

    I feel a weight has somewhat been lifted from my badly damaged youth by the comments from Michael Goldman supported by agreement with Grossman’s activities by a number of other fellow pupils who were at the school at the same period as me.

    Leon Magar

  88. robert coe

    Sorry to have been the source of such terrible memories Leon Magar!

    Luckily for me most of my experiences at Hasmo left me with happy memories of my school days.

    Happily I mostly escaped the attentions of Mr G, apart from one or two unpleasant episodes at the blackboard trying to answer questions under his gaze.

    He did however insist that I take my turn in davening Mincha like everyone else, which I suppose was a positive result of my experience whilst he was my form teacher.

  89. Lionel Jehuda Sanders

    Willie Stanton seems to have made a habit of telling members of his flock that they would add up to nothing. He told me that as well, at the same time, ridiculing my decision to read Ancient History at UCL. I have to confess that the fact that E.J. Frank was pushed out because of ill health is news to me. I had been informed differently by Mr. Frank himself that he simply wanted to retire and live in Israel near his son and family. I also am unaware of the fact that Grossman was acting headmaster after Mr Frank’s departure. That Grossman was a sadist and bully is, of course, a fact. He was always strutting around in academic robes. To the best of my knowledge, he did not have a university degree and accordingly his donning of an academic gown was preposterous.

  90. Whether Grossman was a bully, and whether he had an academic degree, have no connection to the allegations of paedophilia. As to the latter, I heard rumours about this after I left the school, but until Leon Magar’s description of events, I had never heard directly from anyone who had personally gone though it.

    I was in the Hasmonean from 1954-1961, and I had never heard of even a whiff of that side of Grossman. We were all afraid of him, but never, ever, did he touch anyone I knew.

  91. Henry Sudwarts

    I served time at Hasmonean Grammar from 1953 to 1961 in 2 lower. Grossman was our form master. Yes he was a fearsome bully and his loud penetrating voice could make most of us shake with terror. I, too never heard anything of his paedophilic activities. Ron Green and I were classmates all the years from 1954 to 1961 when we met in 2 upper A. And I concur with his remarks. In fact I made a career out of impersonating his voice. He caught me once doing it and shook his finger at me and with a friendly grin told me to watch it.

  92. The Downright Dishonourable Hasmo Legend Terry M, recalling my comment above quoting Rabbi Schmahl – “Boys, whenever you take the Tube, don’t stand too close to the tracks, because there could always be a goy who is looking to push you on” – has just drawn my attention to the following, from today’s London Evening Standard . . .


    And the Northern Line as well! Not so paranoid of Rabbi S, after all! Who said rabbis have no insight?! I can just see it, “The original new crime-drama from the BBC . . . Schmahl.”

  93. …and perhaps, given his renowned nose for sniffing out homicidal tendencies Mr Fierstone could play Robin to D.I. Schmal’s Batman?

  94. Batman & Bobbins!

    If the BBC preferred something a little more Broadchurch-sounding, they could go with the name of Rabbi Schmahl’s shtiebl . . . Gosschalks.

  95. I think you might be on to something there Mike. Really.

  96. ….their inaugural mission could be to unmask the mysterious ‘ex-hasmo’

  97. No need, either, to search for a Penguin . . .

  98. Brilliant!
    Right, who’s a dab hand at Photoshop?

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