Labour peer Lord Dubs has paid tribute to fellow Kindertransport refugee Rabbi Harry Jacobi, hailing him as a “passionate advocate for refugees”.
Rabbi Jacobi passed away aged 93 this week, as tributes poured in from across the community.
The 86-year-old politician, who left his native Prague when the Nazis’ invaded in 1938, recalled their trip to the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in 2016.
He said: “I particularly remember, there is a nice photograph where he and I were with a group of people, and we looked at the Jungle. It was a very momentous day. We saw for ourselves what the conditions were like.”
“He was quite a bit older than me. For him to trample around the refugee camp at his age was quite something. It shows real determination.”
He added that Rabbi Jacobi “was and remained until his death, a passionate campaigner on behalf of refugees.”
“He epitomised the support that the Jewish community has given to the cause of refugees, especially child refugees.
“He was an exceptional person, a stalwart guy, and had real determination and energy”.
Rabbi Jacobi was born Heinz Hirschberg, and celebrated his Barmitzvah at Berlin’s Friedenstempel Synagogue – 18 days before it was destroyed on Kristallnacht.
After fleeing Nazi persecution, he left his parents behind and escaped to Amsterdam at the age of 13. He was taken aboard a ship with 40 children and several adults, which came under fire from German machine guns.
After surviving the journey, he made his way to the UK where he settled in Manchester, before serving as a religious leader numerous communities.
He became active in the Liberal Judaism and was chair of its Rabbinic Conference and the Beit Din, as well as educating about the Shoah.
A passionate campaigner for refugees, he lent support to Lord Dubs 2016 amendment in parliament, proposing the government to accept 3,000 refugee children.
In April of that year, shortly before travelling to Calais together to see the ‘Jungle’, Lord Dubs and Rabbi Jacobi met in parliament on the day the government voted it down.
Jacobi said many MPs had “hardened hearts just like the biblical story of Pharaoh”.