Katherine Jenkins sings for Shoah survivors

By Sandy Rashty, March 24, 2014
She gets around: Hedi Frankl with Katherine Jenkins

She gets around: Hedi Frankl with Katherine Jenkins

Katherine Jenkins was overcome with emotion as she embraced a Shoah survivor at a record-breaking fundraising dinner on Monday.

The Welsh soprano sang for the 330 guests at the central London event which raised more than £140,000 for Jewish Care's Holocaust Survivors' Centre in Hendon. Ms Jenkins, who described the centre as "such an important cause", was introduced to survivor Hedi Frankl on stage.

"I have to tell you that you have delighted us with your most beautiful voice," Mrs Frankl said. "I don't know how to thank you, but all I can tell you is you have entertained a wonderful gathering and thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Hungarian-born Mrs Frankl said afterwards the singer had told her she was lovely and kissed her.

"My daughter Judi Axelrod is a famous soprano in Israel. She'll be delighted." The grandmother-of-two - the only member of her family to survive the Shoah - added: "I feel very thankful that we are not forgotten, because survivors have survived hell. We made a life for ourselves, we got married, had children and now we have grandchildren."

Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub praised the 10 survivors among the audience. "You have given us so many lessons in life to overcome the challenges we can hardly imagine - to witness horror and to emerge with your humanity intact.

"Today we are standing on the brink of that moment when the Shoah will stop being memory and start being history. It's crucially important that the next generation hears the truth. Thanks to you, the stories are not being forgotten."

Vienna-born survivor Freddie Knoller, 92, told guests that, since opening in 1993, the HSC had been a lifeline for its members.

"We all went through the same atrocities. It's really the only place where we can talk safely about our past. The food is fantastic, too. It makes us forget how hungry we were in the camps."

Another speaker at the dinner was businessman Stephen Spitz, who announced he was stepping down as HSC chair after eight years.

He said the centre's lay leadership was the "epitome of what a Jewish committee should be about.

"No fall-outs, no shouting, no back-stabbing and, other than mine, no egos."

A few days before the dinner, stars of Sky's Jews on Bikes programme visited the centre for a communal screening of the final episode of the series, in which the HSC was featured.

Members also enjoyed the opportunity for a close-up look at the motorbikes.

The visit was organised by Jews on Bikes participant and HSC volunteer Richard Adler.

Last updated: 10:06am, March 26 2014