Shein, Sybil and Sokolow, Celina

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Shein, Sybil and Sokolow, Celina

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Dr Celina Sokolow (c.1887-1984) was the daughter and secretary of Nahum Sokolow, one of the giants of the Zionist movement. She was involved in Zionist activities until her death. Born in Warsaw, she was the fourth of seven children of Nahum Sokolow, whose Zionist activities as writer, journalist and politician left a deep imprint on her earliest memories. Her elder sister Maria had accompanied their father to the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897.

A gifted artist, Celina Sokolow had initially wished to be a painter, but at her father’s instigation, she studied medicine, qualifying as a pediatrician in Zurich, Switzerland. It was from there, in the middle of World War I, that she moved to London to join her parents, who had settled in England in December 1914.

Until the war broke out, Nahum Sokolow had been the secretary general of the World Zionist Organization which had been based in Berlin.

After her father’s death in 1936 at the age of 76, she devoted herself tirelessly to keeping his memory alive, supported by her eldest brother Florian. This was no simple task, since Nahum Sokolow, the author of more than 30 books, left a vast literary estate and private and political archives filling the house from top to bottom.

Celina Sokolow always felt that her father’s contribution to Jewish life and letters had been given insufficient recognition by the leaders of modern Israel. After much persuasion she finally permitted his papers to be transferred to the Zionist archives in Jerusalem. But the State of Israel has yet to honor her request that they should be housed in a special building facing the Knesset in Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, she never allowed such disappointments to cool her enthusiasm for Israel. In a Jewish Telegraphic Agency interview to mark the 60th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in 1977, she saluted the then Premier Menachem Begin as a worthy political heir of Zeev Jabotinsky, for whom whe had an undying affections and admiration.

Her final satisfaction came a year ago in 1983 when hundreds of people came to her house to witness the unveiling of a plaque commemorating its historic connection with her late father.

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