Tag Archives: Tibet

Jew of the Week: Tribich Lincoln

The Unbelievable Story of a Jew Who Almost Became the Dalai Lama

Lincoln as "Chao Kung"

Lincoln as “Chao Kung”

Trebitsch Ignácz (1879-1943) was born in the shtetl of Paks, in Hungary. The family moved to Budapest when he was a child, and after finishing school, he enrolled in an acting academy. By this point, Ignácz had left his Orthodox Jewish roots, and would often get in trouble with the police. At 18, he ventured to London and made friends with Christian missionaries. Ignácz converted two years later and was off to a seminary in Germany where he became a reverend. He was sent on missionary duty to Montreal, but didn’t last very long there, and returned to England. He changed his name to Ignatius Timothy Tribich Lincoln, or I.T.T. Lincoln, and got his British citizenship in 1909. He met the Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Church of England) who appointed Lincoln to be a parish priest in Kent. There, he met the millionaire politician Seebohm Rowntree, who made Lincoln his personal secretary. Somehow, Lincoln managed to get on a Liberal Party ticket and was elected to the British Parliament in 1910 in an upset victory over the favoured incumbent. However, MPs were not paid at the time, and Lincoln was soon bankrupt. He moved to Romania and started an oil business. When the business failed, he moved back to London and applied to become a British spy. The British rejected him, so he went to the Germans and was hired as a double agent. Lincoln traveled to the US, but then the Germans didn’t want him either, so he revealed his story to a magazine, and then had a book written about him. The book was popular enough that the British government was embarrassed by the whole thing, and had him extradited for fraud. Lincoln spent three years in prison. After this, he returned to Germany and rose through the ranks of various right-wing parties, at one point even meeting Hitler. Later on, he sold government secrets and was deported for treason. Lincoln now headed to China. After working for a number of Chinese warlords, Lincoln apparently had a revelation and converted to Buddhism. He became a monk and quickly rose to the high rank of abbot by 1931, at which point he founded his own Buddhist monastery under his new name, Chao Kung. In 1937, he became a spy for Japan, but at the same time seemed to assist Japan’s enemy, China. During World War II, Lincoln reconnected with the Nazis and offered to raise Buddhist support for them. When the 13th Dalai Lama passed away, Lincoln proclaimed himself the new Dalai Lama! Despite strong support from the Japanese, the Tibetans rejected his claim. Lincoln passed away in Shanghai not too long after. While some think he was a crazy adventurer who dangerously played both sides of every conflict to even the odds, others think he was a smooth-talking con artist who was simply exploring the limits of his acting abilities – and perhaps even surprised himself at how far he could go. It seems his only redeeming quality came at the end of his life: Lincoln protested the Holocaust and wrote a strongly-worded letter to Hitler to end the terror. Hitler requested that the Japanese have Lincoln poisoned, and this was likely the cause of his sudden death in 1943.

Words of the Week

People think of education as something they can finish.
– Isaac Asimov

Jew of the Week: Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford (Photo Credit: Georges Biard)

Harrison Ford (Photo Credit: Georges Biard)

Harrison Ford (b. 1942) was born to a Russian-Jewish mother and Irish-Catholic father, but was raised in a secular home. (He would later say that “As a man I’ve always felt Irish, as an actor I’ve always felt Jewish.”) He grew up a devoted Boy Scout, which later helped him immensely in his role as Indiana Jones. It was in college that Ford first became drawn to acting. In 1964 he did some acting at a local theatre, and then moved to LA. For several years he worked as an uncredited film extra, then had minor roles in a number of TV shows. To support his family during this time, Ford worked as a carpenter. His big break came in the early 70’s when he was cast for a role in American Graffiti and met director George Lucas. Lucas gave Ford a couple more small roles until finally casting him as a lead in his new Star Wars film, playing the role of Han Solo. He went on to play Han Solo in both Star Wars sequels, and will reprise his role again in the latest Star Wars film, to be released next month. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg, too, was eager to work with the rising star, and pushed to have him cast as Indiana Jones (despite Lucas’ initial protests). By the time he was done starring in all three Indiana Jones films, Ford was a Hollywood superstar and a household name. Since then, he has starred in over two dozen more films, among them the classic Blade Runner (which also has a sequel on the way). Ford’s films have grossed over $6 billion, making him among the highest-grossing actors in history, and he has been ranked first among the Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time. Ford is also a pilot and owns both airplanes and helicopters, which he has used for emergency rescue services. He is a member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope, and vice-chair of the environmental group Conservation International. He is also on the governing board of the Archaeological Institute of America. The Calponia harrisonfordi spider and the Pheidole harrisonfordi ant are named after him. Ford has also been a peace activist (particularly for Tibet, where he is now barred from travelling to), and has criticized Hollywood for its portrayal of violence in film (he even turned down the lead role in The Patriot because he felt the film was too violent). Among his many other awards, Ford has won three Golden Globes for Best Actor, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has also won several aviation awards and was ranked among the “Heroes of Aviation” by Flying magazine.

Words of the Week

Fix yourself first, and then fix others.
– Talmud, Bava Kamma 107b