New Year’s hon­ours for sur­vivors and stars

A foot­ball supremo, an ac­tress, a ma­gi­cian and sev­eral Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tors were among the Jews on the hon­ours list

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

JEWISH NAMES on the New Year’s Hon­ours List in­cluded one of the first ma­gi­cians to ap­pear on Bri­tish tele­vi­sion, the for­mer vice chair of the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and a Tony Award win­ning ac­tress.

David Ber­glas, one of the best­known ma­gi­cians of his gen­er­a­tion, re­ceived an MBE for “ser­vices to magic and psy­chol­ogy”. The 92-year-old be­came a Bri­tish house­hold name in the 1960s and 1970s as a re­sult of his work on tele­vi­sion and on ra­dio. His tech­nique for lo­cat­ing a spe­cific play­ing card from a pack, which has be­come known as “the Ber­glas ef­fect”, has been de­scribed as “the Holy Grail” of card tricks.

David Dein, who is also a for­mer vice chair of Arse­nal foot­ball club, also re­ceived an MBE, for ser­vices to foot­ball and vol­un­tary work in schools and pris­ons, which he vis­its as a mo­ti­va­tional speaker.

So­phie Okonedo, star of films in­clud­ing Ho­tel Rwanda and The Se­cret Life of Bees, was awarded a CBE for “ser­vices to drama”. The ac­tress, whose re­cent work in­cludes an ac­claimed role in Antony and Cleopa­tra at the Na­tional Theatre, pre­vi­ously re­ceived an OBE in 2010.

Pro­fes­sor David Klen­er­man, pro­fes­sor of Bio­phys­i­cal Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, re­ceived a knight­hood for ser­vices to science and the de­vel­op­ment of High Speed DNA se­quenc­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Stan­ley Soffa re­ceived the Bri­tish Em­pire Medal for ser­vices to com­mu­nity co­he­sion, com­bat­ing an­tisemitism and sup­port­ing the Jewish com­mu­nity in Cardiff. A dis­tin­guished mem­ber of the Welsh Jewish com­mu­nity, he is a reg­u­lar speaker on Ju­daism at lo­cal schools in Cardiff and be­yond. He also brought the Jewish Liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence ex­hi­bi­tion to the Senedd [Welsh Par­lia­ment] and worked with se­nior fig­ures in the Welsh Mus­lim com­mu­nity to bring the Right­eous Mus­lims ex­hi­bi­tion to Cardiff Re­form syn­a­gogue, about Mus­lims who saved Jewish lives in Sec­ond World War.

He told the JC that much of the work had be­gun in the sum­mer of 2012.

He said: “It’s some­thing I’ve been do­ing since I re­tired seven years ago now, I took over the chair­man­ship of the South Wales Jewish rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil of 2012 on July 1, hav­ing re­tired from work on June 30. I went from work­ing to work­ing, so to speak.

“That led on to other things. I was al­ways in­ter­ested in in­ter­faith work, it [the South Wales rep coun­cil] led on to the In­ter­faith Coun­cil for Wales and the Faith Com­mu­ni­ties Fo­rum, which is a Welsh Assem­bly body.”

He said he was “sur­prised and pleased” to have been hon­oured.

“I am as­sum­ing that it was prob­a­bly some­one on the In­ter­faith Coun­cil for Wales who had put my name for­ward — I might be to­tally wrong, maybe one day some­body will tell me!”

Holo­caust sur­vivors recog­nised for their work in the field of Shoah ed­u­ca­tion in­clude Vera Schaufeld and Cirla Lewis, who have re­ceived MBEs, and He­lena Aron­son, Taube Biber, Eva Clarke, Steven Frank and Joanna Mil­lan, who have been awarded the Bri­tish Em­pire Medal.

Mrs Schaufeld was just nine years old when she left Cze­choslo­vakia for Eng­land, one of the chil­dren saved by Sir Ni­cholas Winton just months prior to the Sec­ond World War. She never saw her fam­ily again.

She has worked in Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion for many years, vis­it­ing schools around the UK and work­ing with or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust (HET) and the Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day Trust (HMDT). She has also been in­volved in the es­tab­lish­ment of the Holo­caust Cen­tre and Mu­seum planned for Vic­to­ria Tower Gar­dens, out­side Par­lia­ment.

She told the JC that she had “felt ab­so­lutely as­ton­ished” to re­ceive the news.

“I had no such thought or any ex­pec­ta­tion. I re­ceived a let­ter telling me this — I opened the let­ter and was ab­so­lutely amazed. It never en­tered my head — it was a com­plete sur­prise to me.”

Karen Pol­lock, chief ex­ec­u­tive of HET, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was “ab­so­lutely de­lighted” that the seven sur­vivors “have all been hon­oured for their tire­less ef­forts to en­sure that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions learn the lessons of the past and that the vic­tims of the Holo­caust are re­mem­bered.”

She de­scribed how HET had “seen first-hand the in­spi­ra­tional im­pact that they have had on thou­sands of young peo­ples’ lives.

“Through shar­ing their tes­ti­monies, they have given a hu­man face to his­tory, en­hanc­ing Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion and show­ing where hate can lead. Th­ese hon­ours are very much de­served.”

Rabbi War­ren Elf, who re­ceived an MBE for “ser­vices to the com­mu­nity in Manch­ester”, is the rabbi of the Southend and District Re­form Syn­a­gogue. A prom­i­nent mem­ber of the Faith Net­work for Manch­ester and the city’s Chal­leng­ing Hate Fo­rum, he was a key fig­ure in bring­ing to­gether dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties in Manch­ester — Chris­tian, Mus­lim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh — in the wake of the 2017 at­tack on Manch­ester Arena, help­ing or­gan­ise in­ter­views, over 20 faith vig­ils and, a year later, a joint com­mem­o­ra­tion event.

Speak­ing to the JC, Rabbi Elf clar­i­fied that, hav­ing worked for many years with in­ter­faith groups in Manch­ester, it seemed he was seen as some­thing of a “nat­u­ral con­duit” for com­mu­nal out­reach in the wake of both the Manch­ester Arena at­tack and prior to that, at the Sal­ford Quays Bridge, where Man­cu­ni­ans gath­ered in sol­i­dar­ity with Lon­don af­ter the West­min­ster Bridge at­tack.

He stressed that “many peo­ple” had worked to­gether across the com­mu­ni­ties to “fight ha­tred” and pro­mote unity.

Alan Levine, chair­man of the wel­fare divi­sion of Ajex (the As­so­ci­a­tion of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women), re­ceived the BEM “for vol­un­tary ser­vice to Ex-Ser­vice Per­son­nel”.

Doreen Lee, a mem­ber of Bournemouth He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion, re­ceived a BEM “for ser­vices to the com­mu­nity in Bournemouth”, hav­ing worked for the town’s Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau for the last 34 years.

“I feel very hon­oured — it’s a sur­prise, ob­vi­ously, that they ap­pre­ci­ated what I did,” she said.

“You don’t do th­ese things be­cause you have to — you do them be­cause you want to do them, don’t you. It’s a vol­un­tary thing, you don’t get paid for it, you do it be­cause you want to.”

Mrs Lee, who is 88, con­firmed that she had re­tired from the role early last year.

“Noth­ing’s more re­ward­ing than when you give some­body ad­vice and they say ‘I feel bet­ter for com­ing in, I feel so much bet­ter when I walk out of here’,” she said.

“You feel you have helped peo­ple.” Dame Ros­alyn Hig­gins, the Jewish for­mer pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice, re­ceived a GBE (Dame Grand Cross, the high­est class of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire) for “ser­vices to in­ter­na­tional law and jus­tice”.


David Ber­glas with young con­tes­tants in the Daily Ex­press’s ‘Spoon Bend­ing’ con­test in May 1975


Dame Ros­alyn Hig­gins


David Dein


He­lena Aron­son


Joanna Mil­lan

David Klen­er­man


So­phie Okonedo


Vera Schaufeld


Eva Clarke


Steven Frank


Rabbi Elf

Stan­ley Soffa

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