[Before I start to speak about Dad, I want to say how grateful we are that so many of you have come today, many from far away, to say good bye to Dad and to support us – it is not taken for granted and is hugely appreciated]
Dad was a remarkable man. His were 92 years well lived. He was wise and caring of others. He was a man of clear principles who always knew his mind.
He was always certain what the right thing to do was
He was able to make a clear-headed decision, despite knowing that other people’s lives would be hugely impacted. He was always certain what the right thing to do was. One of his favourite phrases was “it’s a mere statement of fact”. A simply way of asserting his clear certainty that he was right. And he almost invariably was right.
I remember with pride going to Court near to his retirement from sitting in the High Court Family Division and watching a case before him. Emotions were clearly running very high and there was huge animosity between the divorced parents and open warfare over the custody of their children. Before the Barristers could begin their arguments before him, he called the parents to come into Court. He stood them both before him. In a clear but firm voice he told them both that they should both be ashamed of themselves. They should think about what they were doing to their children and not their own battles. He then sent them out of court and told them to think carefully about what really mattered, their children. Shortly afterwards they returned with a sensible arrangement for the children agreed. Dad would often say: “there is no such thing as bad children, only bad parents”.
He decided on the fate of children and families day in day out. Always motivated by the best interests of the child
He was loved by Court staff and greatly appreciated by those who appeared before him. For many years each Christmas he would receive Christmas cards from children who he had helped start new lives with foster families.
Dad used to come home and share his remarkable cases with us (in a wholly anonymised way of course). What he did as a Judge was remarkable. He decided on the fate of children and families day in day out. Always motivated by the best interests of the child. He also dealt with all the bizarre twists and turns of family law. One astonishing case sticks in my mind. Two families had been away together for the weekend. They pulled in to the hard shoulder of the M1 and decided that they would swap wives. Each husband simply got in to the driving seat of the other car and drove back to the homes of their replacement wives and children! The case appeared before him some months later. They were apparently entirely happy with their respective new wives and families. The difficulty arose from one house being bigger than the other!
Dad came to this country with nothing. As a refugee boy of 11, “Claus Werner Callmann”, coming from Germany with his late sister Jutta, to life in what was soon to become wartime England cannot have been easy.
kneeling before the Queen was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of his life
He made so much of his life. Starting with nothing and taking nothing from others, he built up his career, his family and his home by hard work, intellect and determination. He was respected by others and deservedly so. That respect was marked in November 2012 by the Knighthood he so richly deserved. That day kneeling before the Queen was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of his life, and of mine.
Dad was by no means defined by his work. He was dedicated to the world of education, especially the University of London and the Hebrew University. He was a Governor of both universities. He was on countless charity committees (a trait he has passed on to his children!). His Jewishness was hugely important to him too. He was a true believer in the importance of the Jewish people and the unity and continuity of the Jewish people. Being Jewish, and his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren being Jewish, was central to who dad was. His most treasured physical possession was the family Sefer Torah. The golden thread passed down for a hundred and fifty years to him and beyond to me and onwards to future generations. That Torah survived the Holocaust as he did. Rescued from the burning synagogue in Berlin on Kristallnacht.
He believed in the Jewish people and the importance of “Am Yisrael Chai”. Today’s funeral is being conducted by Rabbi Freeman of our parents own Reform synagogue, a Rabbi who he greatly admired and liked; tonight’s Shiva will be led by Rabbi Michael Rosenfeld-Schueler the modern Orthodox Chaplain of Oxford University and the son in law of Norman and Carol, a part of his much loved Australian family; and Monday’s shiva will be led by my wonderful sister’s Rabbi, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of the Masorti movement. Although it wasn’t by design, over the next few days that unity of the Jewish people is being expressed through the funeral and shiva process itself. I think Dad would be happy about that entirely unintended happening!
His most treasured physical possession was the family Sefer Torah
Dad was always a sound source of advice and guidance to our friends and family. He adored news, politics, economics, history, Israel. He would love nothing better than to sit in an armchair surrounded by newspapers. Indeed when he headed to Australia to get married which neatly coincided with the end of a 99 day trial, during which he had been too busy to read newspapers, he loaded all his unread newspapers into a large suitcase and was charged in 1967 the huge sum of more than £100 in overweight!
On the subject of overweight, he also loved his food. One of my lasting childhood memories was a remarkable holiday in France which had come about by my father writing a list of the restaurants in France he wanted to eat at. My mother then set to work and planned our driving holiday from meal to glorious meal!
Above all else Dad was about family. Nothing in the world was more important to him than his family. If we asked him how he wanted to celebrate a birthday, his answer was always the same – “with my family”. We were so lucky to have him as a father. He was and always will be my role model of what it is to be a good father. He gave us those huge twin gifts of love and time. Each day he would drive Tanya and me to school. Those journeys and the chats we had were just wonderful. He was always there to advise us, help us and love us. Dad carried on his love of family with his love firstly of Sarah and Victor, both of whom he adored, and then his love of the next generation. He utterly adored his six grandchildren, Ben, Nura, Tammy, Sam, Ariella and Joe. When Tanya and I were children, our family holidays with mum and dad were a time we loved. We were lucky enough to travel widely. Mum and Dad passed down their love of travel by taking their grandchildren on wonderful family holidays.I know that holidays with granny and grandpa form a warm and happy part of all the grandchildren’s memories too.
10 days after they met, they were engaged!
I cannot begin to say how deep his love and devotion was to mum. Judy was truly the love of his life. Dad managed to stay a debonair playboy bachelor until he was 39. His life was full of girlfriends and he had managed to pull off that nearly impossible feat as a young Jewish man of combining numerous girlfriends with no commitment. Then along came mum. They fell immediately and deeply in love and 10 days after they met, they were engaged! It was a true love match in every way. I have no doubt at all that they are now happily back side by side in the world to come.
Over the past few years it was with enormous sadness that mum, Tanya and I went through the pain of witnessing the ravages of dementia on Dad’s highly intelligent mind. The mind he had known so clearly became clouded and slowly but inexorably diminished. It was a huge cruelty. Gradually Dad’s mind was stolen from us. He never stopped recognising us, but his conversations and responses became ever shorter, his once forensic memory disappeared and his life became more and more of a half-life. He was cared for with true love and devotion by the remarkable team at Kun Mor Jewish Care Home, who are true living angels. He went through numerous severe infections and soldiered on under the care of the admirable Dr Alex Wu and the Royal Free team, who brought him back from the brink of death on numerous occasions.
When he had lucid moments we asked him how he felt about his much diminished life. His response was always: “It is as good as it can be”. That was dad – stoical, logical and realistic. When we asked him if he wanted to go on, he would scornfully respond: “Yes, of course”. And he battled on all the way, amazing the doctors time after time.
Finally even his remarkable determination couldn’t carry his frail body further. On Thursday morning, after a night of fighting hard, Tanya, Victor, Sarah and I watched him finally wind down like a clockwork toy. He slipped away calmly, gently and without protest. It was a peaceful and dignified end to a remarkable life.
We will miss you Dad. You truly were a remarkable man.
Dad was an incredible man.
Things you might know about him: he arrived in England with his family as a child of 11, a refugee from Nazi Germany, with almost nothing but a pair short trousers, and ended up being knighted by the Queen later in life for services to law, education and charity.
He was married to Mum for 50 blissfully happy years and always claimed his family was ‘his life’. He was devoted to Jeremy and me, as well as to Sarah and Victor and what he described as his ‘6 wonderful grandchildren’.
He worked all hours as a student to put himself through his studies and at the same time supported his widowed mother
Things you might not know about him: He persuaded his teachers to let him move up a year so he could leave school at 16 to help support his family financially. He worked all hours as a student to put himself through his studies and at the same time supported his widowed mother by running his late father’s dental practice long distance from London in order to give her an income off which to live.
He studied at the London School of Economics as an extra mural student to fit around working. He undertook proof reading for libel at night to make extra money to put himself through his studies.
He ended up as Head of Chambers and then a Family Court judge. He was particularly well regarded for his family law work and dealing with cases of domestic abuse, always putting the children first in the centre of any family or divorce disputes. He would call parents into his courtroom and say, ‘whatever arguments you have with each other, remember your children come first’.
I remember the court room being packed for his valediction when he retired from being a judge, and many eminent members of the legal profession delivering glowing speeches about him. However for me the most moving was the fact that he made such an impact on people’s lives. He even received cards and letters from the children whose parents he had divorced, thanking him for having sorted out their family divorces and having helped them so much.
Dad was passionate about being Jewish and the survival of the Jewish people
Dad was passionate about being Jewish and the survival of the Jewish people. He felt determined that Hitler should not have what he called a ‘posthumous victory’ if the Jewish people no longer associated with their religion or their values. He was very proud of his culture and heritage and actively involved in so many causes, from work with the Anglo Jewish Association and West London Synagogue to his being elected a Governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Dad was the most incredible Dad to us growing up, always there for us, always wise, ready to listen with a hug and calm advice.
We had hours of fun with him on the beach on family holidays, building sand castles & talking.
He used to drive Jem and I to school every day, telling us amazing stories which he made up on the way about Jumbito the baby elephant.
Later in life, he wrote up all those stories into a book for his grandchildren and had it published for them – all about Jumbito the baby elephant, lovingly illustrated with help from mum.
Dad was an original feminist! He was always saying that women were completely equal and was encouraging me to do what I wanted and that I could do anything I believed in.
Overall he was a passionate believer in ‘trusting one’s judgement’, a phrase that he used to use regularly.
One of the most special things about Dad was how calm he was in the face of a crisis. He was always reassuring us and telling us things weren’t as bad as they seemed, or to take life ‘one step at a time’.
Dad was there for people all the time. If we ever knew anybody who was going through a difficult divorce or traumatic personal family circumstances, my parents were there for them. At all hours, people would come and talk to my Dad for advice and his door was always open. And he would follow it up with practical action.
Even to this day people who knew my Dad come up to me and say ‘you know your Dad helped me on the side quietly with this or that and no one ever knew’.
he was very much the rock of our family
Dad was passionate about his beliefs. As a young man, he was Labour Party Chairman of 2 wards, as well as Chairman of the St Marylebone constituency Labour Party, particularly focussing on housing for the poor.
When I used to get overwhelmed by the inequalities in the world he would say that ‘it’s really important, particularly when you’re young to be a socialist and to fight for what you believe in’ – joking that ‘if you can’t be a little bit red when you’re young, there is something wrong with you and if you are still a little bit red when you’re old, then there is something wrong with you too!’
Dad was really supportive throughout my life.
This came home to me so forcefully when we were undertaking the painful job of clearing out Mum and Dad’s house after mum’s tragic passing. I found so many notes that he’d written to me throughout my university studies, constantly posting me letters with supportive encouraging words about my exams or cuttings from The Times Law reports, or interesting articles that he thought I might find useful.
Not only was he was encouraging me academically and with my career but on a personal level too. When I was younger, he’d put notes into my suitcase when I went on a trip to tell me not to feel sad or lonely, or encouraging me to be brave if there was something I was worried about.
Dad was a constant support to mum when she became ill and scoured the world both with and for her to try and find cures, as well as constantly encouraging her and bolstering her and being there for her and all of us – he was very much the rock of our family.
One night as a child I screamed out because I thought I heard a burglar coming in through my window. Later it transpired it was a large insect! But Dad came charging in in the middle of the night growling like a bear to scare the burglar away, and with such ferocity that he broke his toe against the door!
Dad had a particular rapport with young people and students and worked tirelessly to help them in so many ways, both as a Senator of London University for 16 years, as well mentoring individual students.
He was particularly keen to support those who, like him, had had to study as external students whilst working. So he became a Governor of both Birkbeck College and the London School of Economics for 18 years and spent hours attending meetings. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College in recognition of his invaluable contributions.
Mum and Dad together were what Dad always described as a ‘true love match’, and their devotion to each other and their loving partnership was such an inspiration to me growing up.
Even when Dad became sadly diminished by dementia and old age he was stoic and positive to the very end – a true inspiration to all of us. We even joked with the amazing consultant Dr Wu who looked after him so wonderfully that however ill Dad was, whenever she asked how he was he would always reply ‘I’m very well’.
We want to thank the incredible Kun Mor and George Kiss Home run by Jewish Care, particularly Margaret, Yomi, Christine,Kingsley, Efren, Merle, Betty and all the amazing staff who looked after Dad so incredibly during his years there. They cared for him with such dignity and like a member of their family – yet with professionalism and devotion. We will always be grateful.
We would also like to thank Mark who has been such a support in assisting and visiting Dad over so many years as well as Fatima who was Mum and Dad’s devoted housekeeper for 14 years – you have both been a huge part of Dad’s life and we thank you so much.
We know each and every one of you was important to Dad and to our family, and will have your own special memories and we thank you so much for being here today.
I was very moved to receive an email condoling on Dad’s passing which ended ‘an amazing man, an amazing role model….he will be missed by so many people, most of whom you probably will never meet.’
Dad, I feel privileged to have been your daughter and I will always love you.
I will speak today and my wonderful sister will speak tomorrow.
Before doing so I wanted to thank you all for being here to support and comfort us…. It is hugely appreciated. As is Tanya and Victor for hosting both nights of Shiva, rather than one night being in our home which is now a building site. My thanks also to my wonderful wife and children for their love and support.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks teaches how the Kaddish prayer said on the death of a person is actually a prayer for life and a celebration of life. In Dad’s remarkable life there was much to celebrate.
Being with our wonderful and much loved father on Thursday as he slipped peacefully from life to death really makes one reflect on what life is and what death is.
Dad’s life was a life in four chapters.
He was born in Berlin, into a happy, educated, cultured and wealthy German Jewish family. At 11 years old that life ended brutally and he and his family were cast out, and came to England with nothing, to start life again.
a life of success through sheer determination, intellect and force of personality, as he became first a barrister and then one of the youngest judges ever appointed
He began the second chapter of his life. Dad’s determination carried him through as a German Jewish boy, whose name changed from “Claus” to “Clive” educated in a strict Catholic English school in wartime England, speaking little English, whose father was interned as an ‘enemy alien’. That life blossomed into a life of success through sheer determination, intellect and force of personality, as he became first a barrister and then one of the youngest judges ever appointed. This was a role which he fulfilled for over 30 years sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, culminating in the accolade he so richly deserved in November 2012 of being Knighted by the Queen for services to the law, education and charity.
In that life he lived as a man of true principles. He lived for his family. He lived to help others. He lived in a truly loving partnership with our much loved mother Judy. That chapter brought the wonderful Sarah and Victor and then in time his adored grandchildren. Ben, Nura, Tammy, Sam, Ariella and Joe.
The third chapter of his life began some 5 years ago as his brilliant mind full of history, politics, law, economics and memories, began to slip cruelly away. Dementia slowly but inexorably stole him from us. It was a slow descent from life into half-life. Tanya and I had to face the question of what life was. What is the value of a life? How much meaning could there now be to the life of this great man now so reduced? But in many ways Dad answered that question for us. It was clear that Dad wanted to live. He had left us written instructions that it was his wish to live as long as he could. And he did. He battled every infection. He mystified the doctors. He soldiered on. When, in his lucid moments, we asked him whether he wanted to carry on and whether he wanted to be taken to hospital and brought back by his remarkable medical team time after time. His answer was a clear and emphatic, “Yes, of course”. This chapter of his life was a slow passage from life to half-life and his mind slowly died within his strong body.
On Thursday, Tanya, Victor, Sarah and I sat with him in the Royal Free as he lived his fourth and final chapter. His body that had battled so hard for so long, now reduced to a frail and weakened shell, slowly and calmly wound down. It was like watching his life slowly shutting down before us. His blood pressure fell gently and his breath slowed until finally he passed from life to death.
It was peaceful. It was dignified. He left life with calm acceptance.
a man of true principles. He lived for his family. He lived to help others.
Hopefully now he is living his epilogue, alongside our wonderful and much loved mother in the world to come.
We are so grateful that you are here today, to Rabbi Michael who meant so much to our parents, to Rabbi Liss who has been such a support to me, and to all of you, many have come from so far including from South Africa, Switzerland and Manchester, to be with us, to mark the life and death of this remarkable man.
It was a life well lived. As the book of his life, at this time of judgment in the Jewish calendar closes, may we all remember and honour this remarkable man.
Dad was an inspirational man and an incredible father. Throughout his life he was selfless, always giving to others and devoted to his family.
I am incredibly proud of the fact that he came to England with his family as a refugee of 12 from Nazi Germany, with practically nothing but a pair of short trousers, and ended up being knighted by the Queen for his services to law, education and charity.
Dad’s passing has made me reflect how important it is to live our lives with impact, kindness, dedication to improving people’s lives and the desire to live the values we believe in. Our father certainly did all of those things.
all his court staff and ushers used to tell him he was their favourite judge they had worked for.
He struggled financially as a student, working at night to support his studies and supporting his widowed mother at the same time. We spoke at the funeral about his amazing achievements, from being Head of Chambers to ending up as a family law circuit judge. He was well known for putting the children first in any messy divorce and domestic abuse cases and was so popular that children used to write him afterwards, thanking him for sorting out their parents’ divorces.
Movingly, all his court staff and ushers used to tell him he was their favourite judge they had worked for.
He was passionately involved in Labour party politics as a young man as well as giving years of devoted service to education and to the well-being of students. He became a Senator of London University for 16 years, a Governor of Birkbeck College and the London School of Economics for 18 years and was also made a Governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to which he was devoted.
he was prepared to give his time without anyone ever feeling that they were taking his time
Dad lived by his values, constantly giving his time to help students including 13 years on the career Advisory Board of London University.
He was always kind, contacting people in times of trouble, offering a listening ear and always quick to give his time, advice and support. He took on so many voluntary roles outside of his ‘day job’ in the law. Most important of all, he was prepared to give his time without anyone ever feeling that they were taking his time.
Mum and Dad were such devoted parents and Jeremy and I had a wonderful time growing up with them, in harmony and with parents who believed in treating us as equals. However that didn’t stop them regularly clearing out the entire house of all their furniture for Jeremy and I whenever we had birthday parties!
Dad always used to say that ‘the family who eats together can solve anything’, and growing up my parents were huge believers in family meals. We would sit down and put the world to rights or just solve our own problems.
Dad was calm in the face of a crisis. I vividly remember one day coming home from school with Mum to discover that we’d been burgled and that Jeremy had already let himself into the house to do his homework and was sitting in the house surrounded by police officers. When Dad came home later, we all rushed to the door to tell him in great excitement that we had been burgled and he simply put his briefcase down and said ‘show me where the burglar is’.
He was always such a feminist
Dad was so supportive with career advice, encouraging us always ‘not to judge a book by its cover’ but to get work experience and see what we really wanted to do in life… Believe it or not, he actively discouraged both Jeremy and I from going into the law by saying that we should find what we wanted to do …..but in the end I guess we were quite inspired by him!
Dad was passionate about genealogy and spent hours tracing the family background with extensive research, even taking me with him to the Mormon centre where they used to have detailed records of all families on old microfiche files. He eventually wrote a wonderful book ‘From whence we came’, which he has left to the family as an amazing legacy.
He was very talented, able to write ex tempore legal judgments and to speak eloquently without notes, notably at Victor and my wedding.
Dad was never more relaxed than on family holidays, wearing rather skimpy bikini swimming trunks and relaxing on the beach. Or building sand castles with us children and later playing with the grandchildren.
Dad used to drive us to school and make up stories on the way about ‘Jumbito the baby elephant’
His attention to detail in supporting our family went right down to the fact that he always gave me two birthday cards every year right through my childhood: one with a birthday badge and one other – and he continued the idea of giving the grandchildren birthday badges as long as he was able to.
Mum and Dad were a real partnership and Dad described them as a ‘true love match’. He was always such a feminist, both towards Mum and to myself – encouraging me in everything I did.
Dad was incredibly supportive to Jeremy and I throughout our childhood and education, for example cutting out interesting articles we might want to read and posting them to us at University.
He was passionate about being Jewish and the importance of the continuation of the Jewish people, particularly after the Holocaust. He worked as a non-executive director for a publishing company involved with Middle Eastern studies and Jewish history.
He was also incredibly proud of the family Sefer Torah which survived being in a burning synagogue on Kristallnacht. We have the honour of this remaining in the family and being used by both Jeremy and I and by our children for all their bar and bat mitzvahs.
Dad always said his family was ‘his life’ and he was so unbelievably proud not only of Jeremy and I but of his ‘six wonderful grandchildren’ as he always described them: Benji Tammy Sam Joe Nura and Ariella.
When Jem and I were children, Dad used to drive us to school and make up stories on the way about ‘Jumbito the baby elephant’. Later in life, he published those stories into a book for his grandchildren, lovingly illustrated by Mum.
Dad enjoyed talking about history politics and Middle Eastern studies. As a child he used to take me to the Institute of Jewish Affairs to listen to political talks. He wasn’t really a man for small talk but rather enjoyed discussing the big issues of life.
Even when Dad became sadly diminished by dementia and old age he was stoic and positive to the very end – a true inspiration to all of us.
He was ‘old school’ and never complained. We even joked with the amazing consultant Dr Wu who looked after him so wonderfully that however ill Dad was, whenever she asked how he was, he would always reply ‘Very well’.
We want to thank the incredible Kun Mor and George Kiss Home run by Jewish Care and all the amazing staff who looked after Dad so incredibly during his years there – they cared for him with such dignity and looked after him like a member of their family and we will always be grateful.
I also want to say to my unique brother Jeremy, that I couldn’t have got through all the health challenges with Mum and Dad without you – as well as the unfailing support of Victor and Sarah.
Thank you also to Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of New North London Synagogue for leading tonight’s Shiva so beautifully.
Finally, when Dad used to condole someone who was bereaved, he would say ‘It is the memory that we leave in the hearts of those we loved, that is the only true and lasting memorial.’ This now seems particularly apt.
Dad – you were incredible, inspirational and the best Dad in the whole wide world. I will never forget you and I will always love you.