Family & Education

Naima pupils sing in tribute to their late founder, Rabbi Abraham Levy

School performs song written by teacher in memory of their principal at memorial events


The children of Naima JPS sung in tribute to their late founder, Rabbi Abraham Levy, at a special event on Monday to mark the end of the 30 days of mourning following his death last month.

They performed a song that had been especially composed for the occasion by a teacher at the Maida Vale school, Esther Pariente - and again at a packed memorial service later in the evening at Lauderdale Road Synagogue addressed by the Israeli Ambassador, Tzipi Hotovely.

When JPS opened its doors in 1983, it was the first Sephardi school in the UK in a hundred years. As principal, Rabbi Levy would come every week to speak to the children until the last few months when ill-health prevented him.

“We are your children- and we will always be,” the school choir sung. “When we come to school/To learn, grow and play/We will think of you every day.”

In a video compiled by another teacher, Channah Moses recalled their memories of Rabbi Levy who would encourage them to learn some of the more complex blessings by heart with the incentive of pocket-money top-ups.

After the service, parents sat down with their children to study from a booklet of passages from Ethics of the Fathers produced in his memory.

Gabby Lyons, who sent all her four children to Naima and had recommended friends to do so, said Naima had given them “ a sense of belonging - that’s what kids need today. They can go anywhere around the world, open up a Chumash and join in. I wish it had a senior school, that’s what we need.”

At Lauderdale Road later, a former pupil, Abigail Lebrecht Freudenthal, spoke of the lasting impact of Rabbi Levy who had made being Jewish “exciting, fun and cool”. His mock Seder “made us all want to be Gibraltarian.”

Rabbi Joseph Dweck, senior rabbi of the S & P Sephardi Community, saluted the children whose chanting of their prayers “in beautiful song” he had witnessed earlier in the day - particularly the boys who had read from the Sefer Torah in the school’s synagogue “in perfect tune and with perfect pronunciation”.

Rabbi Levy’s legacy would “live on,” Naima JPS’s vice-principal, the Reverend Zvi Amroussi had earlier told the children. “You know how it will live on? Through you.”

A memorial event is being planned to take place in Jerusalem on February 9.

READ MORE: Obituary: Rabbi Abraham Levy

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive