For many, Prof Albert Einstein is the father of theory of relativity, a Nobel laureate, and a founder of the Hebrew University. But for some, he was a close friend.
At the beginning of January, the Einstein Archive at Safra Campus was visited by Elinor (Goldschmidt) Karsagi, originally from Scotland, Hebrew University alumna and the granddaughter of Professor Erwin Finlay Freundlich who was a distinguished German astronomer and who worked with Einstein on measurements of the orbit of Mercury to confirm the general theory of relativity. He left Germany in 1933 to escape Nazi rule and in 1939 became the Napier Professor of Astronomy at the University of St Andrews. Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, Director of the Einstein Archive, showed her a distinguished collection of documents and correspondence between the two, where they addressed each other affectionately “Liebe Einstein” or “Liebe Herr Freundlich”.
“I was very moved and impressed both by the warm reception I received only by being his descendant, and from seeing the importance that my grandfather had in his contribution to Einstein’s work” said Elinor who also contributed to the archive a photo of her grandfather. “I was 7 when he died, I mainly learned about him from stories and I knew there was a connection between Einstein and my grandfather, but seeing the documents in my own eyes and hearing how much the archive staff knew about my grandfather and how eager they were to show me the documents, was quite exciting”.
And there’s a British Friends connection: Elinor’s daughter, Moriah Aharon, is the BFHU’s Marketing lead and a HU graduate herself proving that even in Einstein’s vast universe our world is very small.