Gongs of praise for those who made a difference
Charity volunteers, entrepreneurs and Holocaust survivors are among the Jewish recipients recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.
Jenny Abramsky, former director of BBC audio and music, is made a dame for services to broadcasting.
Currently chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund, she said: “My father [Chimen Abramsky, a former professor of Jewish studies] was thrilled.
“For someone who came here as a refugee in 1932 and is now 92, to see his daughter getting an honour like this is great.
“I was particularly thrilled because I think it shows that radio is still very important in this country and I passionately believe it is. I felt it was as much an honour to radio as it was to me.”
She was made a CBE in 2001. Her mother, Miriam, was a leading social worker.
Charlotte Michaels, a 91-year-old great-grandmother, has been made an MBE in recognition of her charity work in North London.
Born in Danzig, Poland, in 1917, Mrs Michaels came to Britain in 1935 after fleeing the Nazis.
She became a leading volunteer, giving her time to charities, including the League of Jewish Women, the Council of Christian and Jews and Macmillan Cancer Support.
With her late husband, Michael, she became a member of Hendon Reform Synagogue in 1949. Her grandson, Ben Overlander, is head of media at Bicom.
Mrs Michaels said: “I’m embarrassed by all this. There are so many people who deserve it more. But it is an honour that a refugee should be given an award like this.”
Stanley Cundle is made an MBE in recognition of more than 40 years’ service to the Jewish community in Leeds. He is vice-chair of the Zone youth club, served as head of the Community Security Trust for Leeds and Yorkshire and, as chair of the Makor organisation, was also a founder of the Leeds Jewish International Performing Arts
“It’s come out of the blue and is a real surprise. If it wasn’t for my wife, Beverley, who drives me on and keeps me from getting bored, I’d be sitting in a deckchair in Spain,” said Mr Cundle. Marilyn Lazarus, 68, is made an MBE for voluntary service to the Jewish Association for the Mentally Ill (Jami).
She helped establish Jami in 1989 and has since served on its executive committee and worked in its charity shops.
Mrs Lazarus said: “When we set up Jami there was absolutely nothing in the Jewish community for people with mental illnesses.
“It was the JC that wrote the first story about us, and that helped people to come forward.
“We now have a day centre looking after more than 100 people a week and a residential home. It’s nice for the charity to get some recognition.”
Leeds-based Shoah survivor Arek Hersh is made an MBE for services to Holocaust Education.
Nadia Conway, of the New North London Synagogue, is made an MBE for services to the NHS and the North London community.
Mrs Conway was raised in Czechoslovakia but moved to England in 1968 and volunteered for health organisations and children’s charities.
She is a former mayor of Enfield, North London, and a current governor of Wolfson-Hillel School.
With her husband, David, she is restoring a Jewish cemetery in East Slovakia and has initiated an international music festival in Levoca.
She said: “I was very surprised and pleased because obviously you do
not look to get something like this, but it’s nice there is an appreciation of the work. I have had ME for a long time and have had to stop day-to-day work.”
Gerry Ells, 88-year-old five-time world veterans’ tennis champion, is made an MBE for his services to sport.
Mr Ells, a Burma war veteran, plays in tournaments around the world and in 2006 was ranked as the world number two player aged over 85.
Nicknamed “The Freak” by fellow players, he has represented Britain seven times, including as captain on three occasions. He hopes to compete in the over-90s category from 2010.
Hendon-based Mr Ells, who trains at Queen’s Club in West London, said: “I got into tennis like most people, you start playing at the local club with the ‘hit and giggle’ people but as you get more interested you get ambitious. I have had some wonderful experiences.
I play three or four times a week but I’m easing out of tournaments because there is no-one of my age for me to play. I’m giving away five or six years to opponents which is ok in your 50s, but now the younger guy always has an advantage.”
Jenny Arwas is made an MBE for charitable services. A member of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in West London, Mrs Arwas is a volunteer for the Prince’s Trust, a non-executive director of Employment Opportunities and a supporter of the Chickenshed theatre company.
She said: “I have always tried to focus on young people and giving people a chance. I got involved with the Prince’s Trust more than 15 years ago and began fundraising for them.
“This is a huge surprise. I never expected anything like this.”
Alan Swerdlow, former trustee of Liverpool Jewish Youth Centre, Harold House, is made MBE for services to the arts and the communities in Liverpool and Suffolk.
Captain Sam Judah, of North Ferriby, East Yorkshire, is made an MBE for services to business and the community. His honour comes 58 years after his grandfather, Samuel Judah, received the “Order of St John of Jerusalem” award by King George VI.
Hugh Taylor, chairman of Visit England, was made an OBE for services to hospitality and tourism. The Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue member said: “I am overwhelmed by this honour; two in one family is just wonderful. I am very proud of all that has been achieved in the organisation.” His father, Derek Taylor, received the same honour two years ago.
Among others made OBE are Gail Sackloff, former merchandise director for Saks Fifth Avenue, for services to fashion exports; Judith Serota, for services to the Spitalfields Festival; and Edinburgh-based Judy Sischy, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, for services to education and the voluntary sector.
Judge Geoffrey Kamil, from Leeds, receives a CBE for services to the administration of justice.
Bradford College Principal and Chief Executive, Michele Sutton, has been awarded an OBE for her services to further education and community relations.