David Hillel

David Hillel

Born
28 July 1935
London, United Kingdom
Died
24 January 2024
London, United Kingdom
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Words by
Andy Hillel Son

Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this father of ours.

There is a long and well documented history to those opening words, which are very familiar to those who spent time in the company of our Dad. There was rarely an occasion, when Mum and Dad were entertaining, that the old man did not seize the opportunity to suddenly appear from behind a curtain and break into Richard III. From Julius Caesar to Hamlet, Dad would share his love of the Bard and entertain us all at the same time.

It is only five short months ago that I was standing here delivering a eulogy for Mum and it is simply staggering to comprehend that, in such a short space of time, Ali and I now find ourselves orphans. To be fair, fifty eight years with Mum and Dad, a smidge longer for Ali, are very much a blessing which we both treasure and appreciate. We, together with Harley, Tracy and all our children, are comforted by the knowledge that Dad is now at peace and reunited with his soulmate. I know it is a cliché, but Dad simply did not work without Mum. I am also confident that Mum’s first words to Dad yesterday would have been “Nu? What took you so long?”.

Dad was born to Anne and Elkan Hillel on 28 July 1935. By the early 1940s and having exhausted my Booba and Zaida’s strength and patience, Dad was sent to Wales to see out the remainder of the war alongside many of the young children that were evacuated from the major cities. Post-war, and after a brief sojourn in Reading, Dad was one of the original boarders at Hasmonean Boys’ school. Dad then settled in nicely to the family home at 5 Park Way, NW11.

Having been inspired by his lifelong friend, Uncle Sid, Dad chose a career as a Chartered Accountant. He was articled at Auerbach Hope and Co, and staying loyal to the firm throughout his professional career, he rose to the position of Senior Partner by the mid-1980s. It was also where he met Mum. They were married in 1960 and spent the next sixty three years together.

When I sat down to write this, I had the chance to reflect on so many good and happy memories both of and with Dad. I cried a little and I smiled a lot and decided that the list is both too long and too personal to share today. Suffice it to say, it has been my absolute pleasure and honour to have learnt so much from you and shared so much with you that makes me smile.

the kehilla that he loved so much

Dad was a committed “Hendonite”, more specifically Raleigh Closer. He always sought to contribute or give back something to the kehilla that he loved so much. Dad served on the Shul Board of Management through the 1970s and 80s. He enjoyed a fifty year association with the Hendon Co-ordinated Charities, serving as its chairman for the last twenty, and being instrumental in raising the funds to build the now defunct Ella and Ridley Jacobs Home. Whenever he was asked or if a certain cause piqued his interest, be it the Jerusalem College of Technology or the building of a new science block at Hasmonean Boys’ school or, more recently Magen David Adom, Dad committed wholeheartedly.

Dad’s two other great passions were his beloved Aston Villa, who, somewhat ironically, finally gave him something to smile about this season, and golf. Introduced to Dyrham Park by Ruth and Ronnie Gottlieb, Mum and Dad enjoyed their membership of the Club and the friendships they made there to the fullest. It quickly became their second home. Dad became Captain of the Club in the early 1990s but had the wisdom and foresight to not become chairman. He played to a left-handed and a fairly generous nineteen handicap in his pomp and was never short of playing partners. He was to be found most Sunday mornings subsidising their incomes after eighteen holes.

Dad most certainly had a good name

ט֥וֹב שֵׁ֖ם מִשֶּׁ֣מֶן ט֑וֹב וְי֣וֹם הַמָּ֔וֶת מִיּ֖וֹם הִוָּלְדֽוֹ

A good name is better than fragrant oil, and the day of death than the day of birth.

The Midrash notes that these words are King Solomon’s answer to the question Who knows what is good for man in life? A good name is acquired with diligence and good deeds and is a more valuable possession than precious oil. A reputation travels much further than the scent of the finest oil. On the day of death man has attained his complete knowledge and realised the full potential of his intellect whereas on the day of birth his spiritual and intellectual being has only the potential of existence. I am comforted by the knowledge that in the many messages of love and support received in the last twenty four hours, Dad most certainly had a good name.

As we say goodbye to Dad, I will end with the words of William Shakespeare one last time. Possibly Dad’s favourite, which he would quote to me almost every week as I was growing up.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

It was Dad’s way of teaching me that we should be true to our principles, and to the values of truth, self-ownership and individuality, that both he and Mum worked to instil in Ali and I.

Sleep well Dad and give Mum a kiss from us.