Bury South MP Ivan Lewis was among over 220 family, friends and congregants at a testimonial dinner for the Rev Leslie Olsberg in advance of his retirement as minister of Manchester’s Heaton Park Synagogue.
Rev Olsberg will retire on May 10, his 86th birthday, after 35 years’ service. Paying tribute, Mr Lewis said: “He has been there for every section of our community. He was my barmitzvah teacher and inspired generations with his belief that every child is special, regardless of their level of observance.”
Another speaker was Eric Wilson, ex-head of the Manchester Jewish Grammar and King David Junior schools. He recalled meeting Rev Olsberg in 1961 at a job interview at Manchester Jewish Grammar, where the minister was honorary secretary. Mr Wilson was not impressed by the school but Rev Olsberg convinced him to take the job and they became friends.
Rev Olsberg later became chaplain to King David Schools and the testimonial event featured entertainment from the King David choirs.
Some of the proceeds from the evening will be used to establish a charity in his name which will primarily support Jewish education.