Shoah survivors and educators recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours
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Shoah survivors and educators recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Holocaust remembrance chiefs and acting star Maureen Lipman given recognition, as PaJeS' rabbi David Meyer gets OBE, and interfaith philanthropist David Khalili given a knighthood

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Olivia Marks-Wolfman, Rabbi David Meyer, Maureen Lipman and Karen Pollock have all been recognised in this year's honours
Olivia Marks-Wolfman, Rabbi David Meyer, Maureen Lipman and Karen Pollock have all been recognised in this year's honours

This year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List, delayed from June because of the coronavirus, is one of the most Jewish in recent times, with recognition for Holocaust educators and survivors, a damehood for theatre and TV star Maureen Lipman, and a knighthood for philanthropist Professor David Khalili for his interfaith and charitable work.

For his services to education, there is an OBE for Rabbi David Meyer, director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS). Also honoured for his education work is Jeffrey Leader, the director of Pikuach, the Jewish schools inspectorate run by the Board of Deputies and community equivalent of Ofsted. Mr Leader receives an MBE.

Rabbi Meyer said he is “humbled” by the honour, and that “it is gratifying to see that educational services are being recognised and valued especially at this time when school leaders are facing such exceptional challenges.”

However, there can be no question that this award is a recognition not just of the individual but of the whole PaJeS team who have worked tirelessly to support schools. It is my good fortune and privilege to lead such a dedicated team.”

For her long-time Jewish/Muslim interfaith work, there is an upgrading from her MBE to OBE for Mehri Niknam; and for his services to scholarship, an OBE for Professor Stefan Reif, founder-director of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge, which is the decades-long project examining thousands of mediaeval manuscripts retrieved from Cairo in the 19th century.

Simon Morris, former chief executive of Jewish Care, is honoured with an MBE for his services to the Jewish community; and Gateshead’s Rabbi Avrohom Sugarman, head of the Haskel School in the town, receives an MBE for his work with children with special educational needs.

But it is Holocaust education and awareness that is highlighted in the list this year. Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, is upgraded from MBE to CBE, and Olivia Marks-Woldman, who runs the Holocaust Memorial Trust, is awarded OBE.

Jeffrey Pinnick, former chairman of Yad Vashem UK and former chair of the Yom Hashoah Forum, is also made OBE for his services to Holocaust education.

He said the honour “came as a complete surprise and I was so grateful that I had even been considered worthy of such an award” as he reflected on his work in Holocaust commemoration and education for “which I have been passionately involved for the past 20 years.”

Hopefully it will also  reflect on the amazing survivors and refugees of the Holocaust, as well as the wonderful people I have had the privilege of working with on these causes over all this period.”

Karen Pollock said: “I am deeply touched that the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust has been recognised in this way.

Karen Pollock of HET (Blake Ezra Photography Ltd)

“This is a tribute to the Holocaust survivors I have the privilege to work with whose strength, determination and zest for life, inspire me every day. It is also thanks to the dedication of a brilliant team who work to ensure young people not only learn about the Holocaust but stand up to antisemitism, racism and hatred today.

“Our mission has never been more important, and I am delighted that our combined efforts have been recognised.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, who has headed the HMD Trust since 2012, is the granddaughter of a Polish Jewish refugee, Leon Blumenkehl, who arrived in Britain in the early 20th century — the rest of his family did not survive the Holocaust.

Ms Marks-Woldman said: “He arrived penniless and friendless, yet built a new life and created a community of friends in the UK. For his granddaughter to receive this honour is a further symbol of the diversity and richness of British life”.

Olivia Marks-Woldman

She said her OBE was “possible only because of the amazing HMDT staff team and wise counsel from our trustees, and the support and guidance from Holocaust and genocide survivors themselves”.

Seventy five years after the Holocaust, these brave and brilliant individuals share their darkest memories for the benefit of others, to ensure that the next generation know where hatred and prejudice can ultimately lead.

“We are indebted to them and are so proud to work with each and every one of these remarkable people – Karen Pollock

A large number of survivors, many of whom spend time recounting their experiences to young people in schools around Britain, have been honoured. MBEs go to Nelly Ben-Or Clynes of Northwood and Ellen Davis of Swansea, to Samantha Hunt in Sandhurst, Mordechai Kahan and Lady Zahava Kohn in London; while the BEM — the British Empire Medal — goes to Eve Glicksman, Hana Kleiner, Marcel Ladenheim, Thomas KomolyLili Stern-Pohlmann, Professor Peter Lentos and Elfriede Starer.

Lilian Black

There is an OBE for Lilian Black. She said:“I am deeply honoured to have received this award on behalf of the Holocaust refugee and survivor community, especially here in the north of England. It also recognises the importance of the legacy being preserved for future generations to learn from, through HSFA’s Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre at the University of Huddersfield.”

The Association of Jewish Refugees, of which many of the honoured survivors are members, congratulated all the newly honoured. Chief executive Michael Newman said: “That more people are staying at home and accessing information online has added value to AJR’s testimony projects, Refugee Voices and My Story, which enable many survivors and refugees to share their stories for posterity so that the world never forgets. They are an inspiration to us all and rightly deserve their accolades.”

Karen Pollock said: “Huge congratulations to all the survivors recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list. We wish each of them a hearty mazel tov for an honour well deserved.

“Seventy five years after the Holocaust, these brave and brilliant individuals share their darkest memories for the benefit of others, to ensure that the next generation know where hatred and prejudice can ultimately lead.

“We are indebted to them and are so proud to work with each and every one of these remarkable people”.

Dr Marcel Ladenheim said: “Coming to England as a nine-year-old refugee in 1948, changed my life completely. Unlike my own childhood, I was able to bring up a family of three children and five grandchildren in absolute safety. I will forever be grateful to Britain, the kindness shown to me by the English people and am hugely honoured to be recognised alongside my fellow survivors.”

There were awards for those in the creative arts in addition to Dame Maureen Lipman. David Suchet is knighted. One of Britain’s best-known actors, he is famed for his portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. He is one of three brothers from a London Jewish family — his brother John was a long-time ITV newsreader — but he himself converted to Christianity.

Maureen Lipman (Credit: Jay Brooks)

Judy Craymer, who is made CBE, is the woman behind the multi-award-winning musical based on the songs of Abba, Mamma Mia. She is the daughter of a London Jewish lawyer which she has said was great training for the world of theatrical contracts.

Dr Gideon Rubin, a health protection researcher at Kings College London, is made OBE, as is Professor Marta Cohen in Sheffield for her work in the treatment of sudden infant death syndrome.

Also honoured were Ahmereen Reza and Julie Siddiqi, trustees of Jewish-Muslim women’s charity, Nisa-Nashim.

Ahmereen Reza (left) and Julie Siddiqi (right)

Siddiqi received an MBE for her services to promoting interfaith understanding, while Ahmereen Reza received an OBE for her work promoting literacy amongst girls in Pakistan, as well as interfaith activity.

Laura Marks co-founder, said: “Our Muslim trustees are exceptional women and we are blessed to have them working on this challenging, essential but deeply rewarding work.”

We are thrilled to see them recognised and honoured and hope that this helps Nisa-Nashim to develop and grow bringing ever more people together and challenging suspicion and prejudice in a very fragile world.”

 

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