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Gordon Wolffe - Ki Lo Na’eh Ki Lo Ya’eh

Chad Gadya
Ki Lo Na’eh
Ki Lo Ya’eh

Gordon Wolffe“Benzion Hoffman, the composer of some of the tunes we sing at our family Seder, was my great-grandfather on my mother’s side. He was born in Uman Kiev Gus, Russia on 11th January 1872 and died in London in 1951.

He came to London in 1905 and took up at least two positions as chazzan in the East End before becoming chazzan in the Adath Yisrael synagogue in Green Lanes, North London. After working there for over 26 years he retired after being bombed out of his home in 1944. Being an ardent Zionist did cause some friction with members of his kehilla but he was so well liked that the Rav Dr Solomon Schonfeld plus many of the congregation put their disagreements aside allowing him to work in his post for these 26 years. He both wrote and wrote down a considerable amount of synagogue music. The liturgical music written by him was actually published although I’ve never heard anyone else singing these tunes.

Benzion HoffmanHe married my great-grandmother and they came to Britain around the turn of the century. All my family on that side were artists and musicians. My great-grandfather was innately a very talented musician with perfect pitch although I don’t know what training he had.

Music and musicianship has been carried through the subsequent generations - Benzion Hoffman had a son who was a professional violinist - my great-uncle Emmanuel Hoffman and he had two children, Ruth and David. Ruth lives in Israel and David lives in Harrow, near London. David is also a highly accomplished musician and has a great knowledge of family history.

Grandparents' Wedding (Left), and Parents' Wedding (Right)

Benzion Hoffman had two daughters, Clara and Dinah. Dinah, who married Simon Kaye. Their son is Ernest Kaye - a highly versatile musician, being both a wonderful pianist and prolific composer, has also composed a number of choral pieces for his synagogue.

Ernest and Aunt Marianne at work with their music
He has three children - Charles is the oldest, who runs the World Orchestra for Peace. Their two other children are twins - Tony, working both as an impresario and in the world of health products is also married to the well-known opera singer Rosalind Plowright and Nina, who also was a concert manager. Together with her husband Timothy, they provide software for the management of many organisations including the major concert halls of the world and Nina is still very much involved in the world of music.”

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