Two hundred years ago, England was a country undergoing profound transition and change. Faced with the loss of the American colonies and an uncertain future for the discontented masses, England was searching itself and its resources for an answer. At the time, the island kingdom was home to only a few thousand Jews, immigrants from Europe looking for a better life without ghetto restrictions, despite the exclusive laws that still existed. Isolated from the wellsprings of Torah on the continent, their path to the future was likewise difficult and stained. But these two strands came together in the person of one man, Lord George Gordon, an English nobleman and Member of Parliament fired by a deep commitment to divinity, which brought him through the storms of English controversies to his final destiny as a ger tzedek, a righteous convert who became a learned and observant Jew. Gordon's zeal and enthusiasm were more than English society could endure; as the American Revolution divided and impoverished the country, his impassioned oratory led to fierce rioting in London, bringing the city to the brink of chaos until the Redcoats restored order. Brought by this crisis to a thorough examination of his true priorities, he could not rest until he fulfilled the Divine Will in his own person. England's Jews were far from power, yet they helped the young lord in his search for Torah, always sensitive to the urgency which drove him. When his quest incurred England's anger, they sheltered him, and during his incarceration, they stood loyally by his side. Yisrael bar Avraham, Lord George Gordon, takes his place in Jewish history as a man who never compriomised his principles, a brave man in a society which sorely lacked them. His love of Torah and the Jewish people shine out from the pages of his history.
by Yirmeyahu Bindman