Mayor opens Stamford Hill Centre

London Mayor Boris Johnson brought laughter and applause when he showed a previously unknown mastery of Yiddish while opening a new combined day centre and synagogue for Agudas Israel Housing Association's Schonfeld Square home in Stamford Hill on Thursday.

Praising AIHA and its chief executive Ita Symons, Mr Johnson told a packed audience: "It's been very moving for me to meet Holocaust survivors here this morning. You have created a resource for the whole community. You have created jobs and a place where elderly people can come and be treated with dignity, honour and respect and lots of schmeichels (smiles) and oodles of chesed (lovingkindness) and I salute you for that."

Mr Johnson was shown around the centre and parts of the home, which houses 1,000 elderly people from Hackney. Numerous communal leaders from Hackney and beyond strained to shake the mayor by the hand or grab a word with him as he unveiled a plaque.

    Last updated: 3:15pm, November 21 2008