Ruth Som­mer­feld

Born Ber­lin, Septem­ber 15, 1933. Died Novem­ber 23, 2006, aged 73.

The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES -

A MUCH LOVED de­part­men­tal head at Rosh Pi­nah Jewish Pri­mary School, Ruth Som­mer­feld ar­rived in Bri­tain on a Kin­der­trans­port three days be­fore the out­break of the Sec­ond World War.

The daugh­ter of Pol­ish cit­i­zens in Ger­many, she lost her fa­ther when just a year old. The only Jewish child at a school where some of the teach­ers wore Nazi uni­form, she was de­ported with her mother in Oc­to­ber, 1938.

In a refugee camp in Spon­czyn, she was in­vited with other chil­dren to visit the Lubav­itcher Rebbe in Ot­wock and al­ways trea­sured the signed sid­dur she re­ceived from him. Her mother, who later per­ished, se­cured her a place on a chil­dren’s trans­port.

Ruth was taken in by the Ja­cobs fam­ily of Birm­ing­ham, with whom she stayed life­long friends. She went to Birm­ing­ham He­brew School but was evac­u­ated to Colville, a Le­ices­ter­shire min­ing vil­lage. Leav­ing at 15 to re­turn to Birm­ing­ham, she stayed in a refugee hos­tel while tak­ing sec­re­tar­ial train­ing and of­fice work.

Through cor­re­spon­dence cour­ses and evening classes, she gained ma­tric­u­la­tion and higher school cer­tifi­cate, which al­lowed her to grad­u­ate as a teacher at Birm­ing­ham Univer­sity.

She then came to Lon­don and joined Rosh Pi­nah School, founded as a nurs­ery in Edg­ware by the late Rev Saul Amias in 1948, with just 27 pupils. Here she found her true metier, spe­cial­is­ing in the teach­ing of in­fants and even­tu­ally be­com­ing head of the in­fant sec­tion of a school which had by then ex­panded to 400 pupils.

She was renowned for the way she in­spired gen­er­a­tions of pupils with her great love of Ju­daism, Zion­ism and He­brew lan­guage.

Her re­la­tion­ship with her pupils was en­dur­ing and she was of­ten a guest at wed­dings and fam­ily oc­ca­sions. She en­joyed meet­ing her for­mer pupils and their par­ents, whether in Lon­don or Jerusalem.

On her re­tire­ment in 1993, a li­brary at the school was named af­ter her. Un­for­tu­nately she was then plagued by ill-health, which she com­bat­ted with great for­ti­tude.

But she con­tin­ued to main­tain her in­fec­tious joie-de-vivre, en­thu­si­asm for the arts, es­pe­cially pho­tog­ra­phy, and her in­spir­ing sense of hu­mour.

Ruth Som­mer­feld: born teacher

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