Grant supports charity’s goals in UK

By James Martin, July 2, 2009

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant told the story of his father’s survival of the Holocaust at the launch of the UK branch of an Israeli charity.

Meir Panim supports Israelis living in poverty, including Holocaust survivors.

Mr Grant, who coached Chelsea to last year’s Champions League final, discussed his father Meir Granat’s survival in Siberia, where he was exiled for three years during the Holocaust.

“I will never forget him screaming during the night,” said Mr Grant, who was told of his father’s story when he was 15.

Living as one of nine children in an Orthodox family in Poland, Meir Granat was the only family member who survived Siberia.

Mr Grant said: “Once I heard about how my father, who was just 13, had to bury his parents and several of his siblings. It changed my life forever.”

His father went to Palestine but was arrested by the British and imprisoned in Cyprus. He eventually settled in Petach Tikvah and married an Iraqi immigrant, Aliza Nisan.

Making his first public appearance since leaving Chelsea last May, Mr Grant said that he was amazed at the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust from English non-Jews.

“There were lots of people who didn’t understand anything about the Holocaust. That lack of knowledge is a problem.”

Speaking about his football management career, he said that he “needed a new challenge”, adding that he “was one kick away from winning the biggest club tournament in the world, so I have unfinished business and that could be in England or abroad”.

In her address to the 140-strong audience, Dr Shlomit Shuluv Barkan, deputy director of Meir Panim Israel, said: “Tonight’s event will allow thousands of Holocaust survivors to receive assistance towards their provision of food.”

The event, held at Ivy House in Golders Green, raised more than £5,000 for Meir Panim, which runs 30 centres in Israel supporting needy people, many of whom can’t survive on the state pension.

Last updated: 11:20am, July 3 2009