Wizo prize is blogger's 'goyish barmitzvah'
Chas Newkey-Burden with Zehava Taub, wife of the Israeli envoy
Author and blogger Chas Newkey-Burden received a standing ovation from the 360 guests at the Wizo dinner in central London on Monday night as he accepted a Commitment to Israel award.
Mr Newkey-Burden, a non-Jew, is an impassioned advocate of Israel on his OyVaGoy blog. He will travel to Israel to see Wizo’s welfare work in action as part of his award, which he described as his “belated goyish barmitzvah”.
He said he was “tired of the lies, the slander and the unfairness that is directed to Israel and to the Jewish people. For me, trying to counter these lies in some way is not tiring — it’s refreshing.”
Complimenting Wizo, he added: “It’s easy to forget how many people there are in Israel who are poor, hungry and frightened about their future. That’s why I love Wizo. They’re not just arguing about conflict, they are helping needy people. That is true love and commitment to Israel.”
The evening, which raised £300,000 for Wizo’s work in Israel, also featured a Q&A session between broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky and IT entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley. Dame Stephanie recalled “a very traumatic childhood, arriving in this country on the Kindertransport. It’s left me with the idea that you have to make life fairer for everybody.”
Dinner was prepared with the help of Yaniv Gur Aryeh, Eliezer Kimyagrov and Khaled Tawafra, chefs from Wizo’s vocational projects. The evening closed with West End performers singing I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables.