Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott has been honoured for his lifelong work in promoting education and remembrance of the darkest moment in human history.
The 87-year-old, who survived Buchenwald and was liberated from Theresienstadt before being brought to the UK aged just 15, was recognised at Limmud FSU’s conference in Windsor.
For half a century until last year, Helfgott – who also represented his adopted country in weightlifting at two Olympics – led the ’45 Aid Society, set up to assist the more than 700 children who arrived with him in the UK after the War.
He has also been a leading figure in teaching younger generations about the horrors of the Nazi era and holds numerous roles including as an honorary president of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and as a member of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, which is overseeing the creation of a national memorial and learning centre in Westminster.
He told Jewish News: “I’m very humbled to receive this award. What I do is something very important to me. We must never forget.”
He hailed the work of Limmud FSU in connecting people to their Judaism and expressed hope that the young delegates from around the world who came up to shake his hand would pass on the memory of the Shoah.
Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, described the recipient as “a true hero”.
He added: It’s an enormous honour for us to be able to present him with our Limmud honorary award for his contribution to Holocaust education, his outstanding achievements in sports and the Olympics and his admirable legacy.”
Helfgott was presented with an award created by the Israeli artist Frank Meisler, who escapes Germany on the Kindertransport.
Also honoured at Limmud FSU’s first conference in Western Europe were Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush for his contribution to UK Jewry and Rabbi Berel Lazar, the Chief Rabbi of Russia.