A child in war-torn Europe, Amelie Munk fled for her life with her mother, grandmother and younger siblings on a packed train from Paris bound for the south of France. In unfamiliar territory near Toulouse Amelie was told to find a bike and seek out her father, Rabbi Elie Munk, who had joined the Foreign Legion. Yet as the threat to Jews grew daily more ominous, the Munks became a Jewish Swiss Family Robinson, winning love and admiration for their quiet courage, intrepid humour and rich philosophical optimism. Yet the coup de grace came when - minutes from Switzerland and safety - the cries of her baby brother alerted the border guards to the presence of the terrified Jewish family. Life changed for Amelie after the war, when, still a teenager, she married the man destined to become the Chief Rabbi. From the poverty of an embattled existence on the streets of Marseilles, Amelie transformed into that rare combination - sophisticated woman-of-the-world and Jewish revivalist - rubbing shoulders with royalty and the political elite. Her husband, Chief Rabbi Jakobovits, was an adviser to the Margaret Thatcher government: chosen neither for politics nor faith, but his earthier sense of personal and social responsibility. In her own right Amelie became a luminary of many charities and a speaker and educator on the talmudic and moral issues close to her heart. When Lord Jakobovits was created a Peer of the Realm by the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, Amelie Jakobovits became icon of another kind, and is now regarded with general affection as Lady J.
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