LSJS honours loyal backers

By Simon Rocker, October 6, 2011

Nearly a decade ago, one of British Jewry's oldest educational institutions appeared to be on its last legs.

The London School of Jewish Studies, founded as Jews' College in 1855 to produce ministers for central Orthodox synagogues, was fast running out of money.

But it has not only managed to reinvent itself as a thriving adult education centre. It is also expanding to help train teachers for Jewish schools.

"We are now in an excellent position," LSJS chairman Professor Anthony Warrens said at a ceremony to unveil a glass plaque honouring supporters who kept faith in the school.

LSJS president Lord Sacks led tributes, in particular to the college's former co-chairman Clive Marks, trustee of the charity which played the principal role in the institution's survival - the Lord Ashdown Charitable Settlement.

The college had been "on a life support machine", Lord Sacks recalled. "Everyone was suggesting the best thing was to put it out of its misery. Clive and the Ashdown trust rescued it."

Mr Marks's wife Adrianne is a niece of the original founder of the charity, Sir Arnold Silverstone (later Lord Ashdown), who died in 1977.

Lord Ashdown's oldest surviving niece, Lady Clinton-Davis, recounted his rise from one of three brothers from Llanelli, south Wales, to Conservative party treasurer.

A second brother, Joseph Stone, who died in 1986, also went to the Lords as a Labour peer - he was the father of Mrs Marks and race relations and interfaith activist Richard Stone. The third brother, Ralph Silverstone, who died in 1980, was a leading community activist in Birmingham and founder of the Joyce Silverstone home for the elderly.

The Ashdown trust has been one of the major funders of Jewish causes. At one time, its trustees were Clive Marks, who belonged to an Orthodox synagogue, Richard Stone, who was Reform, and Ralph's son Jonathan Silver, who was Masorti. Its composition was reflected in its cross-communal reach and support of such initiatives as Limmud and the London Jewish Cultural Centre.

Last updated: 1:38pm, October 6 2011