My family were ordinary folk – ‘twice-a-year Jews’ we used to call them. But like most of us second and third generation, upwardly mobile, North London Jews, our Jewishness filled our lives. And, at that time, that meant Zionism and the Holocaust. For me, my family and our friends, a post-Holocaust Israel meant quite simply ‘never again’.
But, while seemingly ordinary, my family was also rather extraordinary. My father was unusually tolerant and free-thinking, and my mother too was unusually lively in her thinking. A born rebel, there was nothing she loved more than to burst a balloon. As for me, I started off, first as the family tsaddik – awfully concerned with God and my Jewishness (though always strangely at odds with other Jews) – then the family dissident-intellectual. By young adulthood, you would have found me somewhere on the Zionist left – unquestioning in my support for the Jewish state but wishing it would not behave quite so badly and stop embarrassing me in front of my friends. However, when it came to the Holocaust, my faith was unwavering.