Bernaman B. Lieberman: Royal Army Chaplain

Reverend Benaman B. Lieberman was part of the Royal Army Chaplains Department from 1914-1920. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service.

From what we colloquially know, Rev. Lieberman was posted on the 14th of September 1914 as Rabbi of the Higher Broughton Synagogue, in Manchester.

He was later reported by The Sussex Agricultural Express to have moved to Brighton in August 1915, taking over from Rev. AC. Jacobs, as Rabbi of Brighton Synagogue (then based at Middle Street, Brighton). He continued the work started by Jacobs, by organising fundraising for refugees and visiting wounded soldiers in the four hospitals in Brighton & Hove.

He was married shortly after the move in January 1916 but the name of his spouse remains unknown.

Rabbi Lieberman asked permission to serve with the Jewish Forces in France as Chaplain, whilst working at Middle Street Synagogue, Brighton. There are records of an Emergency Council Meeting on Sunday December 3rd 1916 which detail this.

Emergency Council Meeting minutes – Brighton Hebrew Congregation,
3rd December 1916

Following the meeting, Rev. Lieberman was appointed as an additional Jewish chaplain in France, for which he was released from his duties at Middle Street.

A copy of a War Office letter found in the Jewish Museum London related to Jewish Chaplains

A draft letter addressed to the Secretary of the War Office, re Jewish Chaplain for the East, on 8th October 1915, states the need for Jewish Chaplains. It explains that the number of Jews serving is believed to be very large, and that many Jewish soldiers have died and not received burial according to the custom of their faith.

It cites an example of a Jewish Officer being buried in a small cemetery by an Army Chaplain and his grave marked with a cross. The letter was a request to ask the authority of the War Office for the appointment of a Jewish Chaplain for H.M. Forces in the East of Europe. Rev. Lieberman would have overseen the burial of fallen Jewish soldiers in France, ensuring that they were buried according to the Jewish faith.

After the war, Lieberman documented to have been involved with The Board of Deputies of British Jews, as acting chairman in 1948. Located at Woburn House in London at that time, the Board has been active in protecting the rights of the Jews of the United Kingdom (since the formation of the institution in 1760). It is regarded as representing an authoritative Jewish viewpoint on public issues.

Extract from the ending of ‘Deadlock in Palestine’, Letter by B.B. Lieberman published in The Times – 21st April 1948

While working as acting chairman, Lieberman was politically active within debates concerning the Palestine crisis. He co-wrote the letter ‘Deadlock in Palestine’ with the political activist Edward Atiyah, in April 1948 (see image above) and later wrote another alongside the President of The Anglo Jewish Association Leonard Stein. This later article, titled ‘Allegiance of British Jews’, was featured in The Times in June 1948.

Sourced Used include: Ancestry, We Were There Too, The Jewish Museum London