Wednesday, December 14, 2005

C.S. Lewis kashered his kitchen

Without getting into the 'Lion, Witch and Wardrobe' debate, on which Miriam has written with her normal devastating logic and good sense (genetic, actually), there is an intriguing footnote to the CSL story.
Joy Davidman's two sons, who bore their father's name of Gresham, lived with CSL after Joy died. The older of the two, David, became very interested in Judaism in his teenage years, and became observant. (This is referred to, somewhat inaccurately, here and there on the blogs.) CSL - at the time, and since, one of England's most popular writers on faith and Christianity - decided that it was his duty to accomodate the boy's religious faith, and made his kitchen kosher. In the film 'Shadowlands', the two boys are made into one character, and this is not mentioned at all. David Gresham, who changed his name to David Gershon, at the age of 17 or so went to live in Stamford Hill (London's Boro Park), and became a Satmarer, bekesher and all. I think that he lived with the Cohn family, cousins of the Swiss film director. He learned fluent Yiddish, and went to Yerushalayim to learn. By 1967 - he must have been in his early 20's - he had moved out of that milieu, and turned up in Cambridge to study Turkish at his father's old College (Magdalene), which is where I met him. On Rosh Hashanah in 1967 David Gershon and Simon Schama had yomtov dinner in my room.
David was briliant, and knew reams of gemara off by heart, which he would use in long arguments with the ex-yeshivah students at the Jewish Society (= Hillel, sort of). At that time there were several who had been in Gateshead or Ponovich for years. At a certain point he moved out even further, reverted to 'Gresham', and decided that he wished to live the life of an English gentleman. His younger brother became a Christian missionary. The boys were left the royalties on CSL's books. Last I heard of David he was living in Spain. {NOTE: Wikipedia states that he is 'living in India with his wife and one son'.}

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