Leading politicians from the UK and Israel lined up to pay tribute to Stuart Polak after he entered the House of Lords.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid was among those hailing the contribution of the long-time director of Conservative Friend of Israel after he was introduced to the chamber by Lords Grade and Sterling.
“We don’t have a House of Lords in Israel but if we did you would have had a seat there a long time ago, between Kafka and Einstein and Bob Dylan,” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told the new peer at a Westminster reception celebrating his ennoblement. “We would have title Lord Stuart Polak, guardian of the Jewish people.
“The Jewish existence, says Stuart, is not only a trust for us Jews but for the entire world. He didn’t bring the British public a soft and diluted version of this responsibility but fought for it every day and every hour – making sure they obligate themselves to the wellbeing of Israel as the ultimate expression of independent Jewish existence.”
He added: “With the atmosphere towards Israel in Europe and the UK – presently company excluded – to see someone appointed to the House of Lords for his work and love for the state of Israel seems as unlikely as seeing Jeremy Corbyn become leader of the labour party”
Former Communities Secretary Sir Eric Pickles, the parliamentary chair of CFI, described the elevation of Lord Polak of Hertsmere as “a great thing” for Britain as well as Israel, while Chief Rabbi spoke of the community’s pride in “one of the greatest gems of British Jewry”. Ephraim Mirvis – who spoke of the party as a “Kiddush in the Methodist Hall – looked forward to further “spectacular achievements” in his continuing efforts to strengthen bilateral ties.
Lord Polak – who said CFI had moved from a “reasonably active organisation to one somewhat feared” in parliament – paid tribute to his colleagues and family, who he said remained the most important “club” in his life. But he described his elevation as a “huge privilege and promise to use it well”.
James Gurd will become executive director of CFI.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.