Kindertransport refugee set to skydive from 13,000ft for Jewish Care

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Kindertransport refugee set to skydive from 13,000ft for Jewish Care

Eli Abt, 90, a retired architect and planner from Finchley, hopes to raise £6,895 for Jewish charity

Eli Abt with his wife Muriel during a recent trip to Japan
Eli Abt with his wife Muriel during a recent trip to Japan

A 90 year-old Kindertransport refugee is set to skydive from 13,000ft in Brackley later this month to raise thousands of pounds for Jewish Care.

Eli Abt, a retired architect and planner from Finchley, hopes to raise £6,895 for the health and social care charity by jumping from 13,000ft at the Hinton Skydiving Centre in Brackley on August 25.

The crowdfunding target seeks to celebrate four milestones: Abt and his wife Muriel’s 60th wedding anniversary, 80 years since he boarded the Kindertransport, his 90th birthday and 50 years since he opened his architecture firm.

“I’d been wanting to [skydive] for quite a long time,” he told JN. “It doesn’t take very long, which is thrilling. You’re flying and you’re going down gently with your parachute and instructor.”

“I am feeling confident. It’s been done before by people my age, and even older,” he added. “I feel that this is a wonderful way of raising money for Jewish Care.”

A crowdfunding campaign set up on the platform JustGiving last Friday has so far raised over £1,000, with donations ranging from £400 to £60. “I didn’t know what to expect but I am very pleased with it,” Abt said. 

Amid growing pressures, it is more important than ever to donate to community groups, Abt said. “At a time of great political and economic instability in this country, we don’t know what pressures there will be on the Jewish community so this is the right time to give.”

Abt was just nine when he witnessed the Kristallnacht pogrom and escaped on the Kindertransport. “That’s when I said goodbye to my parents in Berlin,” he said.

Abt’s father was able to escape, and together they were reunited with Abt’s mother and brother in Brighton in September 1939.

“I remember it vividly,” he said. “[My father] took me to the park sat me down and he said, ‘you know, they have declared war on Germany today.’ I said ‘yes’.

“He said: ‘You know, I don’t think that we’ll ever see your mother and your brother again.’ As he said those words, there were two figures walking towards us. There was a woman and a little boy, my mother and my brother.

“As you can imagine, it was a bit like a bad movie, but thank goodness. My father didn’t know that they had succeeded in getting out.”

You can donate to Abt’s crowdfunding campaign on JustGiving or directly to Jewish Care by post to 221 Golders Green Road, London NW11 9DQ, citing “EA Skydive”. 

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