Community celebrates Honours

By Marcus Dysch and Robyn Rosen, December 31, 2010
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Volunteers and philanthropists from the Jewish community have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

With the emphasis shifting from showbiz and sporting stars to those contributing to the Big Society and working in their communities, the list presents a chance for less well-known names to receive the recognition they deserve.

Marjorie Ziff is made MBE for services to the community in Leeds.

The 81-year-old has served the city’s Jewish community for nearly 60 years alongside her husband, Arnold, who died in 2004.

Their charitable donations have supported dozens of local and international groups, including Leeds Jewish Blind Society, Leeds Metropolitan University and the Royal College of Music.

The Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre, opened in 2005, is the hub of all major Jewish activities in the city.

Dr Ziff said: “I came to Leeds from Glasgow so many years ago. My husband and I did so much together and I’ve tried to carry on.

“All those years cleaning the ovens and helping out at the welfare board, and now this.

“Leeds is a wonderful city. It has given us our bread and butter and you have to give something back.

“I cannot live without my iPhone to keep in touch with all my grandchildren and everyone else. I won’t stop my work.”

Publisher and philanthropist, Lord Weidenfeld, 90, received a GBE (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire) for public service.

Lord Weidenfeld, who was born in Vienna, began his career at the BBC and founded publishing firm Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Businessman and philanthropist, Trevor Pears is made CMG (Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George) for services to the community and UK/Israel relations.

Mr Pears is executive chair of the Pears Foundation, one of the major funders of Jewish and Israel-related causes in the UK.

Rabbi Tony Bayfield, head of the movement of Reform Judaism, is made CBE for services to British Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Bayfield said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. I think it’s brilliant that I live in a country that gives prestigious awards to people contributing to Judaism.

“This is a recognition of that Reform Judaism is something valued by society at large.”

The former Controller of BBC Radio 4, Mark Damazer, is made CBE. He first worked at the Corporation in 1981 and left this year to become Master of St Peter's College, Oxford. Mr Damazer's father was born in Warsaw and after moving to Britain worked for a short while at the Golders Green butchery, Frohwein’s.

Actor David Suchet is also made CBE for services to drama. Best-known for his role as Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, earlier this year he appeared in a new stage production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons.

Raised by his Jewish, atheistic father and a non-practising Christian mother, Mr Suchet's childhood and that of his older brother John (the well-known television presenter) and younger brother Peter (a former partner in Saatchi and Saatchi) was completely without religious observance.

German refugee Hermann Hirschberger is made MBE for services to the Jewish community and the Kindertransport evacuees.

He was one of the 10,000 children sent to Britain by their parents on the Kindertransport, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 2008, Mr Hirschberger, a founder member of Belmont Synagogue in London, won a 13-year battle to help dozens of former refugees receive improved compensation by campaigning to remove a legal obstacle.

The 84-year-old, originally from Karlsruhe, south west Germany, said: “I’m very proud to receive this award. It is a tremendous accolade.”

Karen Phillips, chief executive of Manchester's Federation of Jewish Services, is made MBE for services to the city's Jewish community.

The 59-year-old said: "I was touched and very surprised actually. Any chief executive is only as good as the people they are working with. Of course you have to lead, and believe passionately about what you are doing. I have gone the extra mile, but that's just how you should be.

"I hope it is a marker of the charity's standing. It's a good feeling to know the community's ambitions are recognised and it does give you the spirit and energy to do even more. It gives the organisation gravitas."

Robert Bieber is made MBE for services to the voluntary sector. Mr Bieber is a former joint chair of ORT, the world’s largest Jewish educational organisation.

He currently works with Combat Stress, a charity which offers treatment to ex-servicemen and women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Bieber, a member of Richmond Synagogue, said: “I’ve done lots of things in my lifetime but this is very exciting. I do not feel it is for only one activity but the whole gamut.

“I’ve done a lot of work with Jewish and non-Jewish charities and I think that both have benefitted each other.”

Neville Nagler, former chief executive of the Board of Deputies, was awarded an OBE for services to interfaith relations and to Jewish people. Mr Nagler said: "I'm delighted. It’s a tribute to the community as a whole and to the work of the Board of Deputies. It is a recognition of the importance of interfaith relations and the role the Jewish community can play in that."

Gerald Oppenheim, former director of the Big Lottery Fund, is made OBE for services to the voluntary sector.

Mr Oppenheim first joined the National Lottery Charities Board in 1995 and has worked in grant-making since 1978. He is also chairman of learning disability charity the Camden Society.

Marion Bennathan is made OBE for services to children and young people with special needs.

Mrs Bennathan founded the Nurture Group Network, which works with vulnerable and disadvantaged children, in 1970. She is now its life president.

Lyricist Herbert Kretzmer is awarded an OBE for services to music. Born in Johannesburg, Mr Kretzmer moved to London in 1954 and started his career as a journalist before writing lyrics for films, television programmes and theatre productions, including Les Miserables.

Designer Tanya Sarne is awarded an OBE for service to the fashion industry.

Born in 1949 to a French-Jewish mathematician who had fled the Nazis during the war, and a Romanian mother, Mrs Sarne, from Notting Hill, founded fashion label Ghost in 1984 and left the company in 2006.

The label now has 300 worldwide stockists including Selfridges and has four shops, two of which are in London.

Virtuoso piano accordionist, Sarah Aaronson, is awarded an OBE for services to music and charity. Born in South Africa, she studied under Hirsch Ichilcheck, court musician to the last Tsar of Russia. Mrs Aaronson moved to London in 1960 and founded the London International Orchestra, which performs for charities and at fundraisers, in 1985. She has performed at Ravenswood, Nightingale and the London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC).

The Finchley United Synagogue member said: “I’m so touched. To receive an honour for something I love doing is thrilling.”

Entrepreneur Barry Laden is made MBE for services to the fashion industry.

Mr Laden, who set up a showroom in London’s Brick Lane promoting independent designers, is also a part-time author and bibliophile.

    Last updated: 11:41am, January 10 2011