I visit Israel regularly, as my daughter lives there with her family, but I have never visited Beit Rathbone, situated within the Mosenson Youth Village at Magdiel,Hod Hasharon before. Standing outside the building on a sunny hot day in late September, and then being in the room, now the gymnasium, where the opening ceremony took place in November 1949, was a moving experience, made more so by the welcome I received from Dana Drori, the coordinator of the Mosenson Elite Academy. Dana is very interested in the background history of the establishment of the school, which she knew very little about. I enquired about the whereabouts of the original plaque – you can just about see it on the 1949 image – and the portrait of Eleanor that was given as a gift at the opening. Vanished, she thought, but there is a glimmer of hope as, amazingly, she told me that she recently discovered there is a store room which has documents and who knows what else in it. Needless to say she is going to investigate the contents and let me know what she finds. Youth Aliyah and Mosenson are very keen on the idea of rededicating the building in 2016, and this is yet another project we are working on.
If only there was incontrovertible evidence to support Zena Herman’s claim, made at the laying of the foundation stone in October 1948, that Eleanor ‘used her own private means to extend help to those in need, but chiefly children…She was directly responsible for the rescue of hundreds of Jewish children.’ Zena also stated that Eleanor was the headmistress of a school for girls in Oxford, which was most certainly not the case, casting doubt over her child rescue claim.