Jewish philanthropist Sir Lloyd Dorfman has explained the decision to turn an online interfaith memorial for victims of the pandemic into a permanent physical project at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Speaking to JN podcast he said the “next step” for a memorial inside the cathedral was “particularly appropriate” because of the building’s “historic role as the nation’s remembrance centre for great events and great tragedies.”
Sir Lloyd CBE said his involvement with the St Paul’s project stemmed from his initial role helping Westminster Abbey with a new building project in which six of the 30 doners were from Jewish families.
He had been walking through the Abbey with another “distinguished” donor when they discussed the importance of giving back to a country that had once welcomed the community onto its shores and allowed them to flourish.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic an initial online Remember Me memorial project with St Paul’s – allowing the public of all faiths and none to register for free the details of loved ones lost to the virus – was funded by the Dorfman Foundation.
“I think it is important as a community, we do a lot of very good work looking after our own, as every community does,” said Dorfman.
“But I think at the same time it is important that we also play a role in supporting the wider community.
“The Jewish community in this country punches way above its weight in the many projects we support
“The St Paul’s Cathedral project, I happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time.
“I didn’t think twice that this was really important for our country – for those who had lost loved ones that this was done.
“I was happy to do, not only to support it financially, but also help make it happen with design.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is amongst communal leaders to openly praise the project, which first began online last May.
Sir Lloyd said of the huge death toll from the virus: “Each one of these losses is a terrible tragedy.
“This memorial won’t bring loved ones back, but what it will do… here is a way of giving these people a permanent place in our history. They won’t just be statistics in what is referred to as the pandemic.”
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