London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart turned on the charm at a World Jewish Relief gala dinner that raised over £1 million for the charity.
The former international development secretary, who is challenging the Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan as an independent, praised the charity’s work. “World Jewish Relief is such an important model of how to do international development” he told the gala.
“Whether it’s the work that you’re doing with people suffering from dementia in remote parts of the former Soviet Union, or the creativity of engaging with people with disabilities in countries like Rwanda, or the work you’re doing with Syrian refugees in Britain,” he added.
Stewart was joined at the event by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Israel’s ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons and former Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman.
Also at the event were survivors Ben Helfgott, Harry Spiro and Harry Olmer, who received standing ovations. They were among 732 child orphan survivors, known as “the Boys”, rescued by World Jewish Relief, then the Central British Fund, and taken to recuperate in Windermere in the Lake District in the autumn of 1945.
Speaking at the gala, the charity’s chair Dan Rosenfield warned against the resurgence of antisemitism, “a doctrine built, I believe, on a toxic cocktail of hostility to Israel, association of Jews with egregious capitalism and importantly a sense that we – British Jews – are no longer the victim.”
But he added: “Look out, not in […] Look out beyond our own to those struggling in the face of disaster and avoid the temptation to look in, to turn in and to focus just on our own lives, our own security, our own fears.”
World Jewish Relief is the community’s international humanitarian agency. It supports impoverished Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union.