Dr Sydney Baigel



THE MANCH­ESTER com­mu­nity lost one of its lead­ing el­der states­men with the pass­ing of Dr Sydney Baigel. Brought up in Dublin, he be­came in­volved in many communal or­gan­i­sa­tions rang­ing from youth and stu­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Habonim, To­rah Va’Avo­dah, Fed­er­a­tion of Jewish Youth So­ci­eties and the Dublin Stu­dents’ Union, where he was sec­re­tary and chair­man.

A life­long Zion­ist, he was a mem­ber of Dublin’s Younger JNF Com­mis­sion, was hon­orary sec­re­tary of the Mizrachi Fed­er­a­tion of Ire­land, and was a mem­ber of the Zion­ist Coun­cil of Ire­land.

Sydney stud­ied medicine and was awarded his BA and MB at Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin Univer­sity, af­ter which he worked at the Lon­don Jewish Hos­pi­tal in the 1950s and on mov­ing to Manch­ester in 1956 he worked in Manch­ester Royal In­fir­mary and served on the North West Re­gional Hos­pi­tal Board.

He joined Manch­ester’s Holy Law Syn­a­gogue where he served as a mem­ber of the coun­cil, vice-pres­i­dent and

Dr Sydney Baigel: a life­long Zion­ist and ded­i­cated med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner lat­terly as el­der­man. Sydney was the syn­a­gogue’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Board of Deputies for 21 years from 1976 un­til 1997, and del­e­gate to Manch­ester Kashrus Author­ity since 1967 where he was on the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

He was the son of Lat­vian-born Marie Jaffe, daugh­ter of the vi­cepres­i­dent of Manch­ester Yeshiva, and Philip Baigel, a cab­i­net maker born in Lithua­nia who had come to Dublin aged 10 with his wid- owed mother and three sib­lings.

Sydney grew up in the heart of the then thriv­ing and closely-knit Dublin Jewish com­mu­nity which was of mainly tra­di­tional Lithua­nian back­ground and strongly Zion­ist. So much so that he re­called that con­gre­ga­tions in Ir­ish sy­n­a­gogues al­ways stood for Adon Olam at the end of Shab­bat morn­ing ser­vices as it was sung to the tune of Hatik­vah.

The fam­ily lived in the same street as Chief Rabbi Isaac Her­zog and later Chief Rabbi Lord Jakobovits whose fam­ily be­came close friends.

Af­ter at­tend­ing Jewish Zion Pri­mary School Sydney stud­ied Latin and Greek at Dublin’s Protes­tant High School. De­spite be­ing small in physique he ex­celled in ath­let­ics, win­ning medals for 120 yards hur­dles.

He was a founder mem­ber of To­rah Va’Avo­dah the Mod­ern Ortho­dox re­li­gious Zion­ist move­ment which was a con­stituent of the Mizrachi move­ment. In that role on two aus­pi­cious dates, Novem­ber 29 1947, and May 13 1948, he or­gan­ised ma­jor pub­lic cel­e­bra­tions in Dublin.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing in medicine in 1953 he worked at the Lon­don Jewish Hos­pi­tal in Step­ney Green.

In 1956 he took up a po­si­tion in anaes­thet­ics at Manch­ester Royal In­fir­mary and later at Crump­sall Hos­pi­tal. He mar­ried Madeleine Collins in 1961 but she suc­cumbed to can­cer aged 47 in 1984.

The main pas­sions in his Manch­ester communal life were the Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil, on which he served for 48 years, and Hil­lel House. He sel­dom missed a monthly meet­ing of the coun­cil right up till his death and was known for his pithy com­ments and in­ter­ven­tions.

He was a mem­ber of Manch­ester Hil­lel House Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee since 1962, and was known to three gen­er­a­tions of Jewish stu­dents in Manch­ester as “Mr Hil­lel”. It was a sad day for him when it be­came in­evitable that Hil­lel House would have to close in 2014 when it was no longer vi­able.

In a fi­nal ac­co­lade, Sydney was named first ever re­cip­i­ent of the Life­time Achieve­ment Award at the Com­mu­nity Awards cer­e­mony in 2014.

He is sur­vived by his daugh­ters, Liz Tal and Me­lanie Werner; brother Frank, sis­ter Pauline Cle­ments and five grand chil­dren.

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