120 Over 80: Lockdown lowdown on our golden generation
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120 Over 80: Lockdown lowdown on our golden generation

From Holocaust survivors and rabbis to philanthropists and community leaders, we bring you the final part of our celebration of our community's outstanding over 80s.

Jewish News’ Forty Under 40 and Eighteen Under 18 lists celebrate those set to shape the future, but what about those who’ve influenced our community’s present and past?

In partnership with Jewish Care, we profile 120 individuals aged 80 and over whose achievements have inspired us for decades.

Why 120?

Well, to paraphrase the famous Jewish blessing: “May those in our countdown live until 120.”

 

Dr Richard Stone, 83 

Richard Stone is a leading expert in social cohesion, anti-racism and Islamophobia.

Dr Richard Stone

An NHS GP for 25 years, Richard most notably chaired the Runnymede Trust’s groundbreaking Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, which found parallels between antisemitism and Islamophobia.

He was also a panel member of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which criticised the Metropolitan Police’s response to the incident as “institutionally racist”.

Richard has also served as Cabinet adviser to the Mayor of London and president of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality.

In 2010, he was awarded an OBE for public and voluntary service. 

Rita and Leon Newmark, 86 and 81 

Legendary volunteers Rita and Leon Newmark have selflessly dedicated themselves to their East London community.

For more than a decade, the pair have delivered Meals on Wheels to the elderly and vulnerable at least twice a week. “Always seen with a smile”, they help Jewish Care staff to deliver food, often to clients much younger than themselves, and frequently purchase extra challah, paid for out their own pocket.

Rita, 86, formerly volunteered in the Meals on Wheels office and won Jewish Care’s Unsung Hero award in 2012. Both are also heavily involved in Ilford Federation Synagogue, with Leon, 81, formerly serving as chairman for 11 years and now as financial representative. 

 

READ MORE:

• Andrew Gilbert and Daniel Carmel-Brown: This list is our socially- distanced hug to over 80s

• Part one: 120 over 80: Our oldest and wisest  

• Part two: 120 Over 80 – meet our mentors!  

• Part three: 120 Over 80 – meet our golden generation!   

• Part four: 120 Over 80: Lockdown lowdown of our golden generation

 

Rita Shaw, 90

Rita Shaw

Longstanding volunteer Rita Shaw has truly given strength to others during difficult times.

The 90-year-old has volunteered for Jewish Care’s Redbridge Jewish Community Centre for 19 years, playing a huge part in the community.

An “extremely positive and grateful person”, prior to the pandemic, Rita regularly ran popular knitting and discussion groups, served teas and lunches, and helped with manicures.

Despite facing substantial personal tragedy in recent years, including the loss of her daughter to Covid-19 last March, she has never stopped giving back to others.  

 

Lord (Robert) Winston, 80 

Lord Robert Winston
Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A world-renowned fertility and genetics expert, Lord Winston has published more than 300 scientific papers. Most notably, he developed new gynaecological techniques to improve fertility, pioneered new in vitro fertilisation (IVF) methods, and worked on germ cell biology.

The 80-year-old is currently the professor of science and society at Imperial College and the Emeritus professor of fertility studies, as well as co-chair of the UK-Israel Science Council.

An “outstanding communicator”, Robert regularly features in the media, explaining complex scientific and ethical issues, while proudly expressing his Jewish heritage. Awarded a life peerage in 1995, he has chaired both the Lords Science and Technology Committee, and the Royal College of Music Council. 

 

Robin and Nitza Spiro, 89 and 88 

Robin and Nitza Spiro

Robin and Nitza Spiro have played a substantial role in reimagining Jewish learning in London.

The pair founded Spiro Ark, a charity that teaches all things Jewish history and culture more than three decades ago.

By organising events and courses in Jewish history, culture and languages, the initiative has pioneered new approaches to Jewish education. These range from immersive ulpan lessons for Year Six pupils, involving film and theatre directors, to Egyptian heritage events.

With a love for adventure, Robin, 89, and Nitza, 88, travelled to Athens with the International Christian Consulate to work with a group of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran. 

 

Ron Shelley, 91 

Ron Shelley

For more than 50 years, Ron Shelley has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX).

The 91-year-old continues to lead AJEX’s annual ceremony and parade at the Cenotaph, while regularly visiting schools to inspire young people in his role as national vice president.

As chair of the Jewish Military Museum, Ron also works tirelessly to showcase artefacts that demonstrate the Jewish community’s unique contribution to Britain’s national security.

“Always ready to help”, the former AJEX national chairman also served for six years as treasurer of the Board of Deputies. In 2007, Ron received an MBE for services to AJEX and to the London Jewish community. 

 

Rosalind Preston, 84 

Rosalind Preston OBE

The ‘Queen of Jewish communal volunteering’, Rosalind Preston is currently president of the Jewish Volunteering Network.

An endless source of inspiration to young female leaders, in 1991 she was elected the first female vice president of the Board of Deputies.

The trailblazer has also served as president of the National Council of Women, and led a review in 2008 into the role of women in the British Jewish community.

The 84-year-old has also served as co-chair of the Inter Faith Network, and is a former chair of Nightingale Hammerson. Ros was awarded an OBE in 1993 for services to the voluntary sector.  

 

Rosita Rosenberg, 86 

Rosita Rosenberg

Rosita Rosenberg has been a guiding force of Liberal and Progressive Judaism for many years.

She  served as the first female executive director of Liberal Judaism from 1989 to 1997, helping to establish numerous congregations nationwide. This came after a career spent “completely immersed” in the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues (ULPS), working at the Montagu Centre and promoting Leo Baeck College.

Alongside the late Rabbi Lawrence Rigal, Rosita also wrote a history of the Liberal movement entitled Liberal Judaism, the First 100 Years. Now serving as vice-president of the movement, she remains an inspiration to the next generation of communal leaders. 

 

Rudi Leavor, 94 

Rudi Leavor

Rudi Leavor is an outstanding representative of the Bradford Jewish community. Arriving as a refugee from Germany in 1937, he attended Bradford Grammar School before training to be a dentist. He became president and chairman of Bradford Reform Synagogue in 1975, dedicating himself to interfaith initiatives.

Notably, in 2013, thanks to financial assistance he secured from the local Muslim community, work began on restoring the Grade II-listed synagogue building. A keen musician, in 2019 his cantata reflecting on the Holocaust was performed with an orchestra – more than 40 years after Rudi had composed it. In 2017, the now 94-year-old was awarded a BEM for his interfaith work in Bradford. 

 

Ruth Barnett, 85 

Ruth Barnett (Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Holocaust survivor Ruth Barnett has dedicated years of service to education and genocide awareness and prevention.

Born in Berlin, Ruth, then aged four, and her brother, seven, arrived in Britain on the Kindertransport, spending the next decade living with foster families. A psychotherapist, Ruth coined the term “genocide footprints” to mean marks left by societies and individuals who fail to actively combat the precursors to genocide.

The 85-year-old regularly shares her testimony in schools, has been interviewed by The Wiener Holocaust Library, and authored an autobiographical play entitled What Price for Justice?  Last year, Ruth was made an MBE for services to Holocaust education and awareness.  

 

Ruth Bourne, 94 

Ruth Bourne

Inspirational war hero Ruth Bourne served her country with distinction as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park.

During her time at Bletchley from 1944 to 1946, Ruth worked on deciphering the German code and operated Alan Turing’s code-breaking Bombe machines. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, Ruth could not tell her family about her work until 1974.

The now 94-year-old worked as a tour guide at the park for 25 years, bringing her work to life and unpacking a critical part of British history. She was awarded France’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur, in 2018 for her remarkable efforts. 

 

Lady (Ruth) Morris of Kenwood, 87 

Lady Morris of Kenwood is an outstanding role model to the Jewish community.

Lady (Ruth) Morris of Kenwood, 87

Warmly regarded as a “formidable and courageous leader”, the 87-year-old trailblazer was the first female senior partner of a substantial firm of London solicitors and only recently retired.

As president of Habonim Dror (1979 to date), her tenacity and insight has been invaluable in ensuring the movement’s long-term sustainability. Ruth is also a patron of the Jewish Aids Trust and a trustee of the Jewish Youth Fund, while still volunteering at the Jewish Museum, All Saints Primary School and the Royal Free Hospital.

Ruth was awarded a CBE in 2014 for services to the Jewish community. 

 

Sally Friend, 83 

Sally Friend has dedicated herself to improving mental health provision in the Jewish community and beyond.

Sally Friend

A former magistrate, Sally is currently chair of the Mental Health Managers for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, working to ensure sectioned patients are legally detained.

Such is her dedication that she recently donned full PPE to interview a vulnerable patient. For the past 20 years, Sally has also been an assessor on the Enemy Property Claims Assessment Panel, compensating those whose UK assets have been incorrectly confiscated.

A keen volunteer, Sally sits on the Board of Hampstead Synagogue and in 1995 was awarded an MBE for services to the London community. 

 

Seymour G Saideman, 81 

Seymour Saideman’s profound influence over the Jewish community spans more than 40 years.

Seymour Saideman

As president of the United Synagogue (US) between 1992 and 1996, he established the first development programme to transform synagogues into vibrant communities, was pivotal in the admission of women to the US Council and local synagogue boards, and resolved a major financial crisis facing the US.

Deeply committed to Jewish education, Seymour played a key role in establishing Immanuel College and in 1985 appointed the first female head of an Orthodox Jewish secondary school, JFS. The 81-year-old also helped establish B’nai B’rith Europe, serving as its first president and representing the movement at meetings of the EU and the United Nations. 

 

Sheila King-Lassman, 88 

Sheila King-Lassman has been a stalwart member of Finchley Progressive Synagogue (FPS) for 60 years.

Sheila King-Lassman

As chair of FPS (1985-88), she notably implemented the President’s Fund, which subsidised families sending children to Liberal Judaism camps, and now serves the community with distinction as life president.

Always welcoming, she truly encapsulates the warmth and tone of the synagogue. Sheila is also a senior accredited counsellor, specialising in working with parents through separation and divorce, and has a particular interest in mixed-culture relationships.

She also co-founded the Concord Prison Trust in 2004, which provides basic counselling skills training for inmates in HM prisons across the UK. 

 

Sheila Peacock, 89 

Councillor Sheila Peacock has represented Northumberland Park ward in Haringey since 1994 and served four times as the borough’s mayor.

Sheila Peacock

A former headteacher, she became president of the Haringey National Union of Teachers in 1978 before retiring and becoming a Labour councillor.

For more than 25 years, Sheila’s remarkable political career in Haringey has included serving as deputy leader, chair of planning, chair of licensing and vice chair of housing. The 89-year-old has also chaired the Tottenham & Wood Green Pensioners’ Action Group since 1994, the largest pensioners group in London, and is an executive member of the London Mayor’s Association. 

 

Shirley Levinson, 92 

Shirley Levinson

Shirley Levinson has been an outstanding Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) volunteer for more than 60 years. In 1963, she joined the newly-formed Southgate WIZO committee, before rising through the organisation to chair WIZO UK’s membership department and co-chair the fundraising department.

Shirley has further served as vice-chair, vice-president and, since 2002, as honorary vice-president. Since 2007, she has also run WIZO’s Golden Age Club, organising outings and entertainment for older members. Praised for inspiring everyone with her “enthusiasm for life”, the 92-year-old has also volunteered for many years at the North London Hospice. In 2010, Shirley was awarded the Lily Sieff Award for her outstanding commitment. 

 

Sid Green, 89 

Sid Green

Sid Green is the founder of Chaps That Chat, a network of older men’s social groups. What started as a small initiative at Sinclair House in Redbridge has expanded to more than 80 members across Essex, with regular meetings still occurring during the pandemic over Zoom.

The 89-year-old has also arranged numerous trips for group members, including to Mayor’s Question Time and the House of Commons. Highly personable, Sid calls every member each month to chat, check in on their health and to encourage them to attend meetings. A gentleman who was recently in hospital put it best: “Sid’s phone calls were better than any medicine!”  

 

Lord (Simon Haskel), 85 

Lord Haskel

A highly successful businessman who made his fortune in textiles, Lord Haskel has supported numerous communal initiatives over the past half-century.

After completing national service, when he was commissioned in the Royal Artillery, he joined textile firm Perrotts. Simon rose to become its chairman, garnering such respect that he was subsequently elected as world president of the Textile Institute in 2003. Awarded a life peerage in 1993, the 85-year-old is a keen supporter of Labour Friends of Israel and takes a keen interest in Jewish film. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton for his contribution to British technology.  

 

Stafford Fertleman, 86 

Stafford Fertleman is a remarkable philanthropist who has supported numerous communal initiatives.

Stafford Fertleman (Sam Churchill Photography)

He has raised millions for Simon Marks Jewish Primary School, helping to keep it afloat and maintain its Jewish education, as well as for Jewish Chaplaincy. Working always “out of the goodness of his heart” and asking nothing in return, his philanthropy has further enabled hundreds of young people to visit Poland with March of the Living UK.

The 86-year-old has also successfully fundraised for World Jewish Relief and UJIA, of which he is a patron. A passionate Zionist, Stafford also supports Magen David Adom and the Laniado Hospital in Israel. 

 

Lord (Stanley) Clinton-Davis, 92

Lord Clinton-Davis

Lord Clinton-Davis has been a prominent advocate for the Jewish community for more than 50 years. The Labour MP for Hackney Central from 1970 to 1983, he was promoted to minister of state for trade under Prime Minister Tony Blair, before being raised to a peerage in 1990.

The 92-year-old is a vocal supporter of Labour Friends of Israel and served as vice president of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism. He has also previously presided over both the British Refugee Council and the UK Pilots Association. Acutely proud of his Jewish heritage, he is a former director of The Jewish Chronicle and a member of the Board of Deputies. 

 

Lord Stanley Kalms and Lady Pamela Kalms, 88 and 89 

Lord Stanley Kalms and Lady Pamela Kalms

As philanthropists, Lord and Lady Kalms have influenced the communal landscape for nearly half a century.

As life president and former chairman of Dixons Retail, Stanley, 88, has used his vast wealth to donate generously to numerous communal organisations, including the Community Security Trust and Jewish Care.

A former Conservative Party treasurer, he co-founded Immanuel College and conducted an influential review into the United Synagogue in 1992. After training as a nurse, Pamela, 89, dedicated herself to charitable causes, including working for more than 40 years at Edgware General Hospital with responsibility for 700 volunteers a week, and serving as a trustee of Chai Cancer Care for more than a decade. 

 

Stella Lucas, 104 

Stella Lucas

At 104 years old, Stella Lucas remains a pillar of the Jewish community. In 1987, she launched the first All Aboard charity shop in Swiss Cottage, raising funds for charities including Jewish Care, AJEX and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Today, the charity has expanded into a network of 19 shops. Stella has also held numerous high-profile community roles, including vice president of Jewish Care and was co-founder of the Association of United Synagogue Ladies’ Guild.

Devoted to giving Orthodox women a greater communal voice, her tireless campaigning ensured that they received a vote and seat on the US council. In 2003, Stella was awarded an MBE for services to the Jewish community in London. 

 

Susan Pollack, 90 

Susan Pollack (Photo credit: Handout/PA Wire)

Holocaust survivor Susan Pollack is a vocal campaigner against the resurgence of antisemitism.

Born in Hungary, she survived appalling conditions in the Vác ghetto, before being forcibly transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Guben in eastern Germany, and finally Bergen-Belsen.

The 90-year-old still shares her testimony with thousands of people each year, including Chelsea FC’s Ladies team as part of its ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ initiative. Last year, Susan was interviewed by Tracy-Ann Oberman for the Holocaust Educational Trust’s webcast, reaching more than 20,000 people internationally.

After attending the Enough is Enough rally in 2018, Susan also spoke at both the Labour and Conservative Party conferences to remind attendees of their responsibility in combating antisemitism. 

 

Suzie Graus, 87 

Suzie provides a lifeline to isolated members of the community as a Telephone Befriender for Jewish Care.

Suzie Graus

For the past 18 years. she has come into Jewish Care’s offices in Golders Green every Monday to make her calls, contacting up to 30 socially isolated clients each time.

Offering a “listening and supportive ear”, the 87-year-old gives each member quality time to talk and express their feelings, giving them meaning to their lives and making them feel special.

Unwavering in her resolve, Suzie has expertly adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic and continues completing all her calls from home. 

 

Sydney Solomon Assor, 89 

Sydney Solomon Assor

For more than 30 years, Sydney Assor has led the Moroccan Jewish community with distinction.

The 89-year-old is the founder and chairman of the Association of Moroccan Jews in Great Britain, and co-founder of the Assembly of Moroccan Jewry. A remarkable networker, he introduced former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Jewish charities in Morocco and, as a Board of Deputies member, initiated the first lunch attended by Moroccan and Egyptian ambassadors.

Sydney also chairs the Surrey branch of the Three Faiths Forum, working tirelessly on interfaith initiatives. In 2016, he was inducted into the Order of Ouissam Alaouite as Commander, the highest Moroccan honour accorded to a foreigner. 

 

Sir Trevor Chinn, 85 

Trevor Chin

Jewish community grandee Sir Trevor Chinn is an outstanding philanthropist and charismatic leader.

The 85-year-old is senior adviser at private equity group CVC Capital Partners, having formerly chaired RAC plc, Kwik-Fit and the AA. Outside the city, Trevor has served as president of UJIA (since 1993), Norwood (1995-2005), the Movement for Reform Judaism (since 2016) and as vice-president of the Jewish Leadership Council.

A “man of great wisdom”, he was appointed by Boris Johnson in 2008 to chair the Mayor’s Fund, an anti-poverty initiative. He also formerly chaired the Friends of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and was vice chairman of the Wishing Well Appeal. He was knighted in 1990 for charitable services. 

 

Tony Sacker, 80

Tony Sacker

Tony Sacker is a distinguished leader of Liberal Judaism and major presence within Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS). After many years spent on the council, he rose to serve as chair of NPLS from 1983 to 1986, and again from 2004 to 2005.

Tony was also president of NPLS (2009 -14), where he oversaw a important visit by the UK’s Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, in 2013. His impressive communal involvement also includes serving as vice president of the Board of Deputies and as vice chairman of Leo Baeck College. Tony remains active and is currently a vice-president of Liberal Judaism. 

 

Valerie Bello, 88 

Valerie Bello

For a remarkable 70 years, Valerie has been a leading activist in the Jewish community. Passionate about improving the status of Jewish women, she became chair of the Association of Jewish Women and founded League of Jewish Women branches in Blackburn and Harrow in the 1950s and 1960s.

Thereafter, she joined the Board of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, leading the women’s division. She also played an integral role within B’nai B’rith Europe as secretary general, working on the organisation’s merger and reconstruction. Notably, she successfully brought the annual European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage to Britain in 2012. 

 

Walter Felman, 90 

Walter Felman

Walter Feldman is the founder of the UK branch of Save a Child’s Heart, which flies children from across the developing world to Israel for life-saving cardiac surgery.

Since 1999, he has raised millions of pounds for procedures at the Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon. More than 5,500 children’s lives have been saved – roughly 50 percent  from Gaza and the West Bank – with the funds also going towards training for doctors and medical staff from developing nations.

In 2016, then prime minister David Cameron presented Walter with a ‘Point of Light Award’, while Rotary International awarded him the ‘Service above Self Award’ in 2015. 

 

Zigi Shipper, 91

Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper

Zigi Shipper, who celebrated his 91st birthday in January, is a highly visible Holocaust survivor dedicated to educating the next generation. Polish-born, he survived the Łódź Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Stutthof concentration camps, and a death march to Neustadt.

“Vibrant and determined”, Zigi’s testimony has been extensively recorded, including within a film produced by his grandson entitled 84303. Zigi met the England football team prior to the 2012 European Championships in Poland, and has addressed numerous Premier League footballers about their responsibility in challenging hate.

In 2017, he returned to Stutthof to accompany the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a tour of the camp. Zigi was awarded a BEM in 2016 for services to Holocaust education. 

 

Our panel of judges

Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, former UK minister of state for pensions.  Rabbi Charley Baginsky,  interim director,  Liberal Judaism. Daniel Carmel-Brown, CEO Jewish Care. 

Justin Cohen, news editor, Jewish News. Russell Conn, president, Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region. Sarah David, director, Yoni Jesner Foundation. Adam Dawson, chair, JAMI. Yocheved Eiger, CEO, Bikur Cholim (the Charedi community’s leading mental health charity)

Dame Louise Ellman. David Ereira, life president, Norwood & vice-president of S&P Sephardi Community. Ellisa Estrin, director of marketing, communications & customer engagement, Jewish Care. Shirley Fenster, immediate past co-chair, Masorti Judaism. Richard Ferrer, editor, Jewish News. Andrew Gilbert, chair, 120 Over 80 panel. Nicky Goldman, chief executive, JVN (Jewish Volunteering Network). Michael Goldstein, president, United Synagogue. Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive, Care England. Henry Grunwald OBE QC,  president, World Jewish Relief. Gayle Klein, trustee, Jewish Care. Helen Lewis, vice-chair, Leeds Jewish Welfare Board. 

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, senior rabbi, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue. Neil Martin OBE, chief executive, JLGB. Tracy-Ann Oberman, actress and writer. Rachel Riley, TV presenter. Helen Simmons, CEO Nightingale Hammerson.

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