Why Esther is celebrating her 111th birthday alone in South London

Precautions over coronavirus prevent family from visiting the UK's oldest Jew


Esther Annenberg thought she had seen everything in her 111 years – but had reckoned without the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK’s oldest Jew celebrated her birthday alone in a South London care home today with friends and family unable to visit because of precautionary measures.

Her grand-niece Michelle Baharier said relatives could not even ring her “because she’s quite deaf”.

She marvelled at Mrs Annenberg’s longevity, saying: “She doesn’t really know why she’s still alive.”

Born into a working class family, as a child she had to wear callipers on her legs. Raised in Bethnal Green, she moved to the Samuel Lewis estate in Camberwell, where she stayed for almost 90 years.

She was taught to be a seamstress and worked in a dry cleaners.

“For my brother’s barmitzvah, she made my dress,” Ms Baharier told the JC. “My mum also did dressmaking and  they’d make clothes for us and would teach us how to make clothes. We had amazing clothes when we were younger.”

Like the rest of her family, Mrs Annenberg married at the historic Bevis Marks Synagogue but attended the New Cross Synagogue until its closure.

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