A Holocaust survivor this week expressed his gratitude to World Jewish Relief for helping him to start a new life in the UK.
Addressing WJR’s 80th anniversary dinner at London’s Guildhall, Harry Spiro — who was 15 when freed from Theresienstadt in 1945 — came here with the help of the charity, when it was known as the Central British Fund.
“I want to thank WJR for doing what they did,” he said. “I often remember what my mother told me when she sent me away, just before our ghetto in Poland was liquidated — that one of us would survive. When I look at my three children, nine grandchildren and lovely wife, I say to myself: ‘Mum, you were right. Hitler, you didn’t win.’”
MP Luciana Berger was among the 570 guests at the dinner, which raised £1.4 million to help impoverished Jews in Ukraine.
There was focus on the charity’s early years and its pivotal role in the rescue of 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis through the Kindertransport.
Its humanitarian work for people of all faiths was put into context by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who asked: “Why is the stork, which in Hebrew is ‘chasidah’ — ‘the pious one’ — not kosher? Because it is only kind to birds of its feather. If our consideration and compassion only extends to those who are like us, that is a treif way of life. We must recognise that every single human being is created in the image of God.
“As Jews, we have a responsibility to show compassion, empathy and understanding to one and all, and it is for this reason that I identify so fully and enthusiastically with the ideology of WJR.”