'To Give You a Future and a Hope' (Jeremiah 29:11)

Leo Baeck College, Centre for Jewish Education through the Retrospectoscope – David Goldstein Memorial Lecture, 16 June 2005

in European Judaism
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It is a great privilege to have been invited to give this lecture in memory of David Goldstein, zikhrono livrakha. He was one of the great scholars and teachers of our movement and he died tragically young. I recall in particular a series of lectures he gave at the College on the Golden Age of Spain. In one of the earlier ones he noted that while at school he had been taught about the so-called 'dark ages' in Europe when there was little in the way of cultural development. The only exception, he had been taught, was the single shining light provided by the Venerable Bede. It was only in later life that he discovered that at the same time when Christian Europe was 'in the dark', Islamic Spain was going through its 'golden age' with an extraordinary flourishing culture that nourishes us till today. That same kind of cultural narrowness and ignorance seems to be no less a problem today when considering the Muslim presence in Europe, and I am always pleased to use that illustration to challenge people to think more broadly.