Lord Sacks joined members of Alan Senitt’s family in paying tribute to the murdered former student leader at a moving event marking the tenth anniversary of his passing.
The Chief Rabbi Emeritus said the one-time BBYO president and UJS chair would have been “one of the great leaders of our time” had his life not been so cruelly cut short at the age of 27 during a visit to Washington to work on a presidential campaign.
Recalling his leadership of the Coexistrence Trust which worked to unite Jews and Muslims to fight hate, he said in a video message: “He was someone who lived by his ideals and changed the world for the better. I want to shed a tear for what might have been and give thanks for what was. One of most inspiring young people of his generation, it was a privilege to know him and we will always cherish his memory.”
Seven of the past 10 UJS presidents attended the memorial event at JW3, in addition to MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth and many of the other young leaders inspired by Alan. It was organised by Nicki Cohen, a close friend of Alan’s and trustee of the Alan Senitt Memorial Trust.
His mum Karen described him as a “warm, loving bright jewell” who was “at ease with whomever he met and put them at ease too”. She added: “His smile would always light up the room. He was a true mensch in every sense of the word and the world is a far poorer place without him. He is always with me but how I long to see that smile, feel his embrace and hear stories about his day and plans.” She said his legacy lived on through his friends and the Trust, which supports causes close to his heart including young leadership and interfaith.
Danny Stone, who worked with Alan on the Coexistence Trust and now heads the All-party group against anti-Semitism, said: “Whilst obviously sad and painful, it was a lovely occassion and a chance for so many of us that were inspired by Alan to remember and pay tribute to him together.”
A simultaneous event was held in Israel. Dan Kosky, who knew Alan from UJS and organised the gathering with Mandy Sinai, said: “It was a great opportunity for Alan’s friends in Israel to share fond memories of a special person. Some of us had never met each other before – testament to Alan’s enduring ability to bring people together. I have no doubt that were he with us today, Alan would be doing good and meaningful things on behalf of Israel.”