'Vivacious and popular' Frances dies, aged 108

By Cathy Forman, February 23, 2012
Frances Woolf

Frances Woolf

Religious leaders have led the tributes to Britain's oldest Jew, Frances Woolf, who has died at the age of 108.

"She knew me from the day I was born," said Rev Alan Greenbat, 82, a family friend of Ms Woolf, who spent her final years in Edinburgh House, the Sephardi home in Wembley. "She knew my grandparents and my mother was her music teacher.

"She was a vivacious and very popular person. We were in touch until the end."

Mr Greenbat, honorary consultant to the Office of the Chief Rabbi, spoke at the funeral at Bushey cemetery, along with Wembley Synagogue's Rabbi Simon Harris, who regularly visited Ms Woolf, a former congregant. Mourners also included teachers and pupils from her days as a school head.

"My six-year-old daughter Levana took a shine to her," Rabbi Harris said afterwards. "She would engage her in extended conversations. She remembered great details of her life. She was lively and had a wicked sense of humour. She was an intellectual."

He further recalled that Ms Woolf had driven her manual Volvo until she was 95, claiming that its dents were "not her fault". She had continued to attend teas at Wembley Synagogue, being driven there by Edinburgh House staff.

As Ms Woolf left no family to sit shivah, a special service in her memory was held at Wembley Synagogue.

Last updated: 3:34pm, February 23 2012