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120 Over 80 – meet our golden generation!

From educators and rabbis to political campaigners and community leaders, we highlight – in partnership with Jewish Care – the impact of our community's oldest and wisest members.

 Jewish News’ Forty Under 40 and Eighteen Under 18 lists celebrate those set to shape the future, but what about those who’ve influenced our  community’s present and past?

Over the next four weeks, in partnership with Jewish Care, we profile 120 individuals aged 80 and over whose achievements have inspired us for decades.

Why 120? Well, to paraphrase the famous Jewish blessing: “May those in our countdown live until 120.”

 

Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy, 81

For more than 50 years, Rabbi Levy has been a spiritual leader of the British Sephardim. Always “unafraid to push boundaries”, the 81-year-old established the Naima Jewish Preparatory School in 1983, the first new Sephardi school to open in a century.

Appointed Spiritual Head of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation in 1981, Rabbi Levy went on to found the Young Jewish Leadership Institute and also modernised the Montefiore Kollel to train the next generation of rabbis.

Now serving as the Emeritus Spiritual Head of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, Rabbi Levy was awarded an OBE in 2004 for services to interfaith cooperation.

Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy, 81, with Chief Rabbi Mirvis and rabbi Joseph Dweck
((C) Blake Ezra Photography)

 

Agnes Kaposi, 88

Born in Hungary, Dr Kaposi survived the Debrecen ghetto and labour camps in Austria. A distinguished engineer, she worked as a researcher and consultant, pioneering computer aided design and systems engineering.

She investigated the role of women in engineering as a Churchill Fellow and worked on the advancement of engineering education in this country and abroad. In 1992 she became just the third woman to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

passionate storyteller, Dr Kaposi’s impact is immense. She works closely with Beth Shalom, March of the Living, Echo Eternal and others. Her recently published memoir,Yellow Star – Red Star, written in cooperation with the Hungarian historian László Csősz, tells of the Hungarian Holocaust and life under communism. 

READ MORE:

• Andrew Gilbert and Daniel Carmel-Brown: This list is our socially- distanced hug to over 80s

• Part two: 120 Over 80 – meet our mentors!  

• Part three: 120 Over 80 – meet our golden generation!   

• Part four: 120 Over 80: Lockdown lowdown of our golden generation

Alan and Marilyn Lazarus, 84 and 80

Alan and Marilyn Lazarus

Alan and Marilyn Lazarus MBE were instrumental in co-founding Jewish mental health charity Jami in 1989.

Heralded as a “visionary couple”, the pair have tirelessly raised awareness of mental health and wellbeing for more than 30 years after recognising a lack of provision in the Jewish community.

Their ongoing support for Jami includes establishing the charity shop and raising millions of pounds to fund residential and community services for 1,500 users.

Marilyn, 80, was awarded an MBE in 2009 for her instrumental efforts, while Alan, 84, received a Lifetime Achievement award from JVN six years later.

 

Alan Tyler, 96

Alan Tyler’s extraordinary naval career spanned three decades and encompassed almost every corner of the globe.

Alan Tyler

His war record included commanding a gun turret instrumental in the sinking of the German battleship, Scharnhorst, and leading the fleet into Singapore for the Japanese surrender.

Post-war, Alan’s naval responsibilities included handing over control of Haifa port on the eve of Israeli independence, serving as the UK’s first Hebrew translator to the navy and taking sole charge of Britain’s first nuclear bomb on Rosh Hashanah 1952.

A former national chairman of AJEX and president of the Jewish Committee for HM Forces, the 96-year-old remains active to this day.

 

Lord Alf Dubs, 87

One of Britain’s most respected figures, Lord Dubs is a tireless campaigner for refugee rights. Arriving in Britain on the Kindertransport in July 1939 and owing to his keen interest in politics, Lord Dubs was elected as a Labour MP in 1979, before being promoted as Shadow Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Race Relations.

Lord Alf Dubs

The 87-year-old latterly became CEO of the Refugee Council, before being awarded a Life Peerage in 1994 and serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1997 to 1999.

Notably, in 2016, the peer successfully moved an amendment in Parliament mandating the UK government to take unaccompanied child refugees from Europe, especially Calais and the Greek Islands.

 

 

Anita Alexander-Passe, 89

Legendary fundraiser Anita Alexander-Passe has raised millions for projects in Israel over the past 60 years.

Anita Alexander-Passe

Since 1993, she has been director of the British Friends of Rambam Medical Centre, a national charity established to support The Rambam Health Care Campus located in Haifa. An accomplished speaker and fundraiser, she has helped initiate biennial exchanges of medical personnel between Homerton Hospital in Hackney and the Haifa hospital since the early 1990s.

The 89-year-old is also chair of Operation Wheelchairs Committee, a past chair of Na’Amat (Pioneer Women) and was even a Jewish Chronicle correspondent during the 1980s.

 

Arek & Jean Hersh, 92 and 86

With their “incredible dedication” to Holocaust education, Arek and Jean Hersh have truly kept the flame of memory alive. Born into a Polish family, Arek survived the Lodz Ghetto, Otoshno camp (near Poznan), Auschwitz-Birkenau and Theresienstadt.

With his wife, ‘Queen Jean’, accompanying him, the pair have recounted Arek’s story at every possible opportunity since he started speaking about his experiences 25 years ago.

They regularly travel across Poland and the UK, focusing particularly on educating non-Jewish communities in the north of England. Arek, 92, and Jean, 86, also visit Germany once a year to speak with non-Jewish Germans about the Holocaust.

Arek & Jean Hersh (CreditL Sam Churchill)

 

Arthur Lawson, 98

Second World War veteran Arthur Lawson has contributed extensively to Jewish communal and military associations.

Arthur Lawson at the BBC’s 75th VJ Day commemoration

Transferred to the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers in 1941, his unit fought against the Japanese in Burma, with Arthur surviving a knee wound during the famous Battle of Imphal, which halted the Japanese advance into India.

In his own humble words, a “rather lucky survivor”, the 98-year-old subsequently spent many years undertaking voluntary work with AJEX, eventually rising to becoming national chairman in 2002, and is currently president of the Monash Branch of the Royal British Legion.

In 2003, he was awarded an MBE for services to Community & Veteran Affairs.

 

Aubrey Rose, 94

A “ground-breaking” campaigner for minority groups, Aubrey Rose’s distinguished career as a human rights lawyer includes co-founding the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and being the first Jewish Commissioner at the commission for Racial Equality from 1991-1995.

Aubrey Rose

A highly visible communal mensch, the 94-year-old served on the Board of Deputies for more than 50 years, including as senior vice president from 1991 to 1997, and is a founding member of the Commonwealth Jewish Council.

Aubrey also led the first British Jewish delegation to Spain in 1992 to mark 500 years since the expulsion of the Jews, and has served as president of the Indian-Jewish Association.

 

 

Audrey and Geoffrey Morris, 89 and 88

Praised as the “beating hearts of British Jewry”, Geoffrey and Audrey Morris’ remarkable commitment has helped keep the Finchley Reform community flourishing for decades. The pair joined Finchley Reform Synagogue (FRS) more than 50 years ago, with Geoffrey, 88, becoming both vice chair and headteacher of the cheder.

He was named a Diamond Champion by older people’s charity, WRVS, in recognition of his volunteering efforts. A stalwart member of the FRS choir and organiser of weekly study sessions, Audrey, 89, was also integral in co-founding Raphael, the Jewish counselling service. Limmud regulars, the pair continue to inspire their children and grandchildren with their commitment to Jewish learning.

Audrey and Geoffrey Morris

 

Barry Hieger, 86

Barry Hieger

Barry Hieger is JLGB’s longest serving volunteer, having held almost every major JLGB appointment since joining in 1948.

After returning from his National Service, Barry became an adult volunteer leader in 1952 and helped run the first JLGB Duke of Edinburgh (DofE)’s Award expedition four years later. For more than 60 years, Barry trained and assessed thousands of participants on their DofE expeditions.

His remarkable dedication was rewarded with a DofE Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by the Earl of Wessex in 2014.

The 86-year-old is now an honorary JLGB vice president, having held the position of JLGB Treasurer for more than 16 years.

 

Sir Ben Helfgott, 91

Sir Ben Helfgott

Sir Ben Helfgott has led the Holocaust survivor community with distinction. Polish-born, he survived appalling conditions in the Piotrków Ghetto before being deported to Buchenwald, Schlieben and Theresienstadt concentration camps.

Described as an “outstanding humanitarian”, Ben is the founder and chairman of the ’45 Aid Society, an association of orphaned child survivors flown to England in 1945, and campaigned in the 1980s for a memorial to be created in Hyde Park.

A former champion weightlifter, Ben is also one of just a handful of Jewish athletes known to have competed in the Olympics after surviving the Holocaust. The 90-year-old was awarded a knighthood in 2018 for services to Holocaust remembrance and education.

 

Bernard Davis, 91

Bernard Davis

The “godfather of serious intellectual Reform Judaism”, Bernard Davis played a leading role in transforming the movement’s reputation within the Zionist Federation and the World Zionist Organization.

Praised for developing South West Essex Reform Synagogue into a cutting edge and leading Reform community, Bernard became the synagogue’s first president and rose to become the youngest chair of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (the precursor to the Movement for Reform Judaism).

An inspirational figure, the 91-year-old is currently a patron of Leo Baeck College and remains a leading figure within Reform Zionism.

 

Bernard Kops, 94

Praised for “vividly” conveying the British-Jewish experience, Bernard Kops is one of Britain’s most celebrated and prolific authors.

Bernard Kops

Born in the East End of London to Dutch-Jewish immigrants, Bernard’s first play, The Hamlet of Stepney Green, brought him national recognition in 1957. Heralded as one of the keystones of the New Wave in British ‘kitchen sink’ drama, it was subsequently performed all over the world.

The 94-year-old’s substantial literary contribution, which includes more than 40 plays, nine novels, seven volumes of poetry and two autobiographies, was recognised in 2009 when the Queen bestowed on him a rare Civil List pension.

 

Bernd Koschland

Bernd Koschland, 89

With “selfless devotion”, Bernd Koschland has dedicated much of his life to teaching thousands of young people about the Holocaust.

In March 1939, aged just eight, Bernd travelled on the Kindertransport from Germany, with his older sister joining him a few months later.

It was the last time he saw his parents, who were murdered in Riga or Izbica in 1942.

Bernd’s testimony was one of four used by the BBC to produce the Newsnight programme marking the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport. In his testimony, the 89-year-old spoke movingly of his recollections fleeing Germany and rebuilding life in his adopted homeland.

 

Beryl Sharpe, 80

Beryl Sharpe has played a substantial role in maintaining the vibrancy of Brighton’s Jewish community. As president of the Sussex Jewish Representative Council (SJRC), which provides a central contact point for all Jewish organisations in Sussex, the 80-year-old has “always had charity at heart”.

Beryl Sharpe,

Her numerous initiatives include staging major community events to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, collections for the homeless, and administering the Community Renewal Fund. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Beryl has united her local community through projects including a Community Support Network, collecting ‘Nosh for the NHS’, and initiating home deliveries of deli suppers to the elderly and housebound.

 

 

Bob and Ann Kirk, 95 and 92

Bob and Ann Kirk have educated thousands of schoolchildren about their experiences of the Kindertransport and the Holocaust.

Born in Germany, Bob, 95, and Ann, 92, travelled to England in 1939 through the Kindertransport programme.

As a teenager, Bob joined the British army, where he became an interpreter dealing with German prisoners of war. Ann attended South Hampstead High School, eventually training at a secretarial college.

The pair met at a club for young Jewish refugees, run by Woburn House, and married in 1950. In 2019, the couple were awarded BEMs for services to Holocaust education and remembrance.

 

Bronia Snow, 93

Bronia Snow

Bronia Snow’s remarkable dedication to Holocaust education has been behind her decision to address thousands of students, with her story recounted in leading publications, including The Daily Telegraph.

The 93-year-old recalls Hitler’s troops marching into Czechoslovakia and her subsequent journey on the Kindertransport to live with her mother’s cousin.

Bronia’s family were murdered in Auschwitz in 1944, ending her dream of being reunited with them.

Always making a “big impact on young audiences”, Bronia often cites her enthusiastic adjustment to British schooling, and her gratitude to Britain and Sir Nicholas Winton for a new life.

 

Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, 89

Dayan Ehrentreu is a leading rabbinical authority on Jewish law and served for more than 20 years as head of the London Beth Din.

Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu

His achievements include successfully negotiating the construction of the north-west London eruv in 2003¸ improving the situation of agunot (chained wives) and working to improve competition and standards among kosher outlets.

The 89-year-old is currently a dayan of the European Beth Din, and in 2018 was awarded Germany’s Federal Order of Merit in recognition of his crucial role in rebuilding traditional Jewish life as director of the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin.

 

Clive Boxer, 86

Clive Boxer has worked tirelessly for decades to ensure that the significant contribution of the Jewish community to Britain’s security is never forgotten. A former national serviceman, Clive partook in the coronation parade of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and served twice in the Canal Zone in Egypt.

Clive Boxer

For decades, the 86-year-old has supported AJEX, drawing up the foundation documents for the charity and serving as hon solicitor. His truly “unique commitment” includes leading the UK Roll of Honour project, a historical record commemorating the 90,000 Jews who have served in the military since 1932.

 

Clive Marks, 89

Clive Marks

An unsung hero of the community, Clive Marks has been one of the great benefactors of British Jewry.

As administrator of the former Ashdown Trust, initiated by property magnate Lord Ashdown, Clive oversaw £50 million of donations between 1977 and 2012.

Domestic projects included saving the London School of Jewish Studies (the former Jews’ College) from bankruptcy and donating generously to the Reform movement.

Through the international ORT network, the 89-year-old also funded schools in Latin America, and established the UJIA-Ashdown Fellowship, which helps students to study in Israel and the United States during their gap years.

 

Corinne Oppenheimer, 84

A “true role model who never seeks the limelight”, Corinne Oppenheimer has dedicated a lifetime of service to Liberal Judaism.

Corinne Oppenheimer

Currently a vice president of Liberal Judaism, Corinne served for years on Birmingham Progressive Synagogue’s executive, holding roles as president, chair and secretary. Since moving to London, the 84-year-old has been an active member of Finchley Progressive Synagogue, where she has served on the council, caters communal seders and regularly helps the rabbi to support elderly and bereaved members.

Corinne can always be relied upon and is unquestionably a legendary volunteer.

 

Cynthia and Neil Drapkin, 82 and 90

Cynthia and Neil Drapkin

Cynthia and Neil Drapkin have shown remarkable dedication to commemorating the lives of Czech and Slovak Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Since 2002, Cynthia has regularly visited the town of Spišská Nová Ves in Slovakia, contacting survivors and preparing a comprehensive archive of testimonies.

Working with a local schoolteacher, whose students helped research the former Jewish community, the 82-year-old also successfully lobbied for the Jewish cemetery to be renovated.

Her husband Neil, 90, has written a booklet about the history of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue’s Torah scrolls, one of which originated in Spišská Nová Ves.

 

Lord David Alliance, 87

Lord David Alliance

One of Britain’s foremost industrialists for more than half a century, Lord Alliance is an Iranian-British businessman who made his fortune in textiles.

The former chairman of online retailer N Brown Group and founder of Coats Viyella, Europe’s foremost textile company, David was made a life peer in 2004.

The 87-year-old has used his vast wealth to support charitable and educational foundations in Britain, Iran and Israel. Between 1984 and 1991, Lord Alliance was instrumental in the rescue of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan and Ethiopia by bringing them to Israel.

 

 

David Duke-Cohan, 92

David Duke-Cohan

David Duke-Cohan is the former chair and president of Edgware and District Reform Synagogue (EDRS). Praised as “courageous and influential”, the 92-year-old ensured EDRS remained part of the Reform Movement during a turbulent period for the synagogue.

David is the former vice chair of the Zionist Federation and has headed up its finance, constitution and Yom Ha’atzmaut committees.

He is also one of the founders of Pro-Zion, the UK’s diverse Zionist movement for Progressive Judaism. A highly successful solicitor with more than 65 years of experience, David remains a dedicated and enthusiastic Talmud student at Edgware & Hendon Reform Synagogue.

 

 

David Farbey, 88

For more than 50 years, David Farbey has served as a senior representative of the progressive Jewish movement. “Respectful and respected”, his remarkable dedication to communal leadership includes 22 years on the Board of Deputies as Deputy for Finchley Reform Synagogue.

David Farbey

He was also convenor of Progressive Deputies for 15 years, overcoming numerous challenges while serving on the Board’s executive, finance and cemeteries committees, plus its defence division.

A much-loved Limmud presenter, the 88-year-old has authored several books and continues lecturing on a range of subjects, including historical Jewish opera singers, sharing his passion with students at Oxford, Bradford and Westminster universities.

 

David Lipman, 83

David Lipman

For more than half a century, David Lipman has been a stalwart supporter of Liberal Judaism.

After founding Nottingham Liberal Synagogue with his late wife in 1965, David rose to become chairman of Liberal Judaism and remains a vice president. He also served as chairman of the European Region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, receiving an MBE in 2017 in recognition of his extraordinary dedication.

The 83-year-old has also contributed towards a scholarship programme for children in Slavkov in the Czech Republic, and was instrumental in restoring the town’s synagogue as a memorial to the former Jewish community lost in the Holocaust.

 

David Parlons, 80

David Parlons has infused new life into Sandys Row, one of the nation’s oldest synagogues.

David Parlons

Forever a “man of action who makes things happen”, the 80-year-old successfully fundraised to refurbish the decaying building.

As part of a team of trustees, David has helped revive communal and daily services, with the minchah service becoming one of the city’s best attended.

A passionate advocate for education and learning, he also formerly initiated the first Bat Chayil programme and ceremony for girls at Finchley United Synagogue. His impressive efforts were recently recognised with a BEM for services to the Jewish community.

 

 

Dr David Ryde, 92

Dr David Ryde

Famously Britain’s lowest prescribing GP, David Ryde has for decades been a leading proponent of transforming diet and lifestyle over taking pills.

After noting transformative benefits in his patients from reducing meat and dairy consumption, as well as leading an active lifestyle, he became a vocal proponent of reducing antibiotic overuse.

Dismissed initially for his ‘radical’ views, he was later awarded a fellowship of the Royal College of General Practice in 1979. A keen sportsman himself, the 92-year-old served on the medical subcommittee of the British Olympic Association for 15 years and has been a team doctor at numerous Maccabi Games.

 

Lord David Young, 88 

Lord Young

With a lifetime of business acumen and political experience, Lord Young has contributed immensely to the Jewish community.

The founder of Start Up Loans, who set up his own property group Eldonwall Ltd in 1961, the 88-year-old is also a former president of the Institute of Directors.

Made a Life Peer in 1984, David served under Margaret Thatcher as Secretary of State for Employment from 1985 to 1987, and subsequently as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. A proud communal supporter, David became the first President of Jewish Care from 1990 to 1997 and until recently was chairman of the Jewish Museum.

 

 

Our panel of judges: 

Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, Former UK Minister of State for Pensions.  Rabbi Charley Baginsky,  Interim Director,  Liberal Judaism. Daniel Carmel-Brown, CEO Jewish Care, Justin Cohen, News Editor, Jewish News. Russell Conn, President, Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region. Sarah David, Director, Yoni Jesner Foundation. Adam Dawson, Chair JAMI. Yocheved Eiger, CEO, Bikur Cholim (the Charedi community’s leading mental health charity) Dame Louise Ellman. David Ereira, Life President, Norwood & Vice President of S&P Sephardi Community. Ellisa Estrin, Director of Marketing, Communications & Customer Engagement, Jewish Care. Shirley Fenster, Immediate Past Co-Chair, Masorti Judaism. Richard Ferrer, Editor, Jewish News. Andrew Gilbert, Chair, 120 Over 80 panel. Nicky Goldman, Chief Executive, JVN (Jewish Volunteering Network). Michael Goldstein, President, United Synagogue. Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England. Henry Grunwald OBE QC,  President, World Jewish Relief. Gayle Klein, Trustee, Jewish Care. Helen Lewis, Vice Chair, Leeds Jewish Welfare Board. Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Senior Rabbi, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue. Neil Martin OBE, Chief Executive, JLGB.Tracy Ann Oberman, Actress and writer. Rachel Riley, TV presenter. Helen Simmons, CEO Nightingale Hammerson.

 

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