Holocaust Survivors’ Centre hailed a ‘lifesaver’ at annual dinner

Fundraising event at St John’s Wood United Synagogue raises £150,000 for Shoah facility


The Holocaust Survivors’ Centre has been hailed as “lifesaving” at its annual dinner.

The fundraising event at St John’s Wood United Synagogue raised £150,000.

Mathematician and television personality Rachel Riley, who has visited the Golders Green centre several times this year, hosted the evening, and there was a keynote speech from actress, writer and comedian Dame Maureen Lipman.

Dame Maureen, who entertained more than 220 attendees with a talk that touched upon many topics, quipped: “I have decided to introduce myself.

“I am 77 years old. That’s 79 if you read the Daily Mail, and 34-and-a-half if you read the JC.”

She later added, more seriously: “Underneath the fun that we have tonight and the kibitzing and the swapping of phone numbers, there’s obviously a very serious cause.

“We will all need Jewish Care in our lifetime, and times are especially tough at the moment.

“We are here for the Holocaust survivors, and we are blessed to have some of them here tonight. The Holocaust Survivors’ Centre is so important, and we have to continue to give them our support.”

A captivating on-stage discussion between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Ivor Perl BEM and Dov Forman, who founded his great-grandmother and Shoah survivor Lily Ebert’s viral TikTok account, received a standing ovation from attendees.

The two discussed the origins of Ivor’s memoir, Chicken Soup Under the Tree: A Journey to Hell and Back, and the importance of the centre.

Ivor, a regular attendee, said Holocaust survivors needed the centre “more than ever before”.

“The centre is even more important to me and fellow survivors as we get older,” he said, saying it provided a “life-saving weekly gathering”.

He added: “[It] offers us so much care and support, a place to be together, and what we really need right now, which is an abundance of love that we receive from the staff and volunteers there, who I can only describe as angels.”

The Holocaust Survivors’ Centre is part of Jewish Care’s Michael Sobell Jewish Community Centre.

Established over four decades ago, it receives no government funding, and costs more than £375,000 a year to run.

The meeting place offers its members, who number over 300, a chance to socialise and engage in a variety of activities, as well as providing them with a social and therapeutic outreach programme.

Activities include a ladies’ shiur (Jewish learning session), Yiddish singing, theatre trips and Jewish festival celebrations. The centre also offers specialist counselling and social work support from its Shalvata service for members dealing with trauma.

Jewish Care’s director of fundraising and community engagement, Adam Overlander-Kaye, said the funds raised on the evening would “go a long way to helping us to continue to run the centre, which is a lifeline […] to the survivors, refugees and their spouses”.

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