Starring roles for women in East Enders’ special

December 9, 2009
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Joyce Saffron, Emma Byre and Lottie Tendler at Sunday’s ceremony

Joyce Saffron, Emma Byre and Lottie Tendler at Sunday’s ceremony

Twelve women aged from 43 to 92 took part in an eshet chayil (women of valour) ceremony on Sunday at Jewish Care’s Stepney Jewish Day Centre.

A first for the charity, it was the idea of Joyce Saffron, a volunteer at the centre for over 50 years. “I kept hearing about men who were having a second barmitzvah and thought — why not have a ceremony for women?”

Ms Saffron was among the particpants, along with centre members Amelia Finger, Hannah Gander, Nettie Lipman, Jean Nadel, Irene Rosenthal, Renee Stack, Lottie Tendler and Rose Woolf, plus volunteers Emma Byre, Marie Joseph and Lillian Lebby.

A service was conducted by Reverend Alan Greenbat and the women gave short readings. Other speakers included Tower Hamlets Mayor Councillor Ahmed Omer.

It reminded me of how I feel about being Jewish, what I learned at home

It was a bittersweet occasion for Auschwitz survivor Ms Tendler, 88, as it brought back memories of family who had perished. “It reminded me of how I feel about being Jewish, what I learned at home.”

Ms Byre, 43, a former City headhunter, said she had not expected to feel so emotional. “It was so nice being on stage with the others. They are great characters and they make coming here very special. My mother and my late grandmother were volunteers at this centre and my grandfather was Boris Bennett [an East End photographer]. Now I bring my children here. I feel very proud.”

The event was sponsored by Canary Wharf Group, whose Danny Seliger was moved “to be able to celebrate with those who helped to make East London the special place it is today”.

    Last updated: 3:58pm, December 10 2009