Jewish celebrities and community leaders feature in 2017 birthday honours list.

A newsreader, one of Britain’s wealthiest men and a prominent philanthropist are among those recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list.


Natasha Kaplinsky, who has presented news programmes for the BBC, Channel 5 and ITN for 15 years, has been appointed an OBE for her services to Holocaust commemoration.

Over 15 months, Ms Kaplinsky, whose paternal grandparents migrated from Poland to South Africa in 1929, has interviewed 112 Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators as part of a commemoration project for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

She said: “It’s a huge honour, obviously, but it gives me an opportunity to shine a light on the most extraordinary people who came forward in the testimony project.” She added: “We live in a world now where there’s a lot of conflict, and if we can’t learn from Holocaust survivors, who can we learn from?”

Len Blavatnik, named as Britain’s second-richest person with wealth of £13 billion, has received a knighthood for services to philanthropy.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation has supported a range of cultural and philanthropic institutions, including the British Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Royal Opera House.

Mr Blavatnik also sponsors a Colel Chabad-run food bank and warehouse in Kiryat Malakhi in Israel, which sends monthly shipments of food to 5,000 poor families in 25 Israeli cities.

Trevor Pears, the Hampstead-based businessman who established the Pears Foundation with two of his brothers, has been given a knighthood under the Foreign Office honours list, for his overseas philanthropy.

Mr Pears said: “I feel both humbled and excited to receive this honour.

“Through philanthropy, I have been privileged to meet and work with many exceptional people.”

The Pears Foundation, an independent charitable body “rooted in Jewish values”, works with 250 partner organisations to fund projects including Holocaust education and antisemitism awareness and UK-Israel bilateral relations. It has donated £100 million in the past decade.

Jonathan Faull, a director-general in the European Commission, was knighted for services to UK relations to the European Union.

He retired in December after spending 38 years in Brussels.

Australian Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy, owner and manager of the global shopping-centre company Westfield, was knighted for his contribution to the UK economy.

Mark Leibler, national chairman of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said the honour was “well -deserved, not only for the reasons noted in the citation, but because of Sir Frank’s wide-ranging contributions to so many worthwhile causes”.

As the third richest man in Australia, Lowy has shared his wealth with a diversity of causes. He is both a benefactor of the Australian Jewish community and a great supporter of Israel. He has a close relationship with Israel as he fought as part of the Hagana in the War of Independence.

Lord Stern of Brentford has been appointed a Companion of Honour for services to economics, international relations and tackling climate change.

The peer is the IG Patel professor of economics and government at the London School of Economics, and chair of the prestigious Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, also at the LSE.

He is also president of the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and the social sciences.

He said he was “delighted and deeply honoured” to receive the honour.

Dame Stephanie Shirley, a former Kinderstransport refugee, has been appointed a Companion of Honour for services to the IT industry and philanthropy.

Having made a fortune from her technology company, she has given £135 million to charitable initiatives, particularly those related to autism research, after her son Giles died aged 35 from a fit related to the condition. She founded the charity Autistica.

In 2014, Dame Stephanie was recognised with a Jewish Care Women of Distinction lifetime achievement award.

Professor Carolyn Hamilton, the director of research and international programmes at Coram Children’s Legal Centre, has been made a Dame for services to children’s rights and education.

A winner of the Gandhi Peace Prize award, Prof Hamilton has worked extensively at strategic government level and brought a number of seminal cases on children’s right to education to the Supreme Court. She has worked with UN agencies to help protect children in war-zones.

She said: “It has been a great pleasure to pursue a career in such a rewarding field with dedicated colleagues.”

Jonathan Gershuny, professor of economic sociology and senior research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, was appointed a CBE for services to the social sciences and sociology. It was “really exciting” to receive the honour, he said.

His research focuses on work-life balance across the world. In his book, Changing Times: Work and Leisure in Post-Industrial Society, he refers to ancient Jewish leisure practices.

Reflecting on the importance of being Jewish, he said: “Those are the habits that drive you”.

Solicitor Alexandra Marks was made a CBE for public service. She is a Crown Court recorder, a criminal cases review commissioner and chairs a national charity called the Prisoner’s Education Trust.

Richard Benson, the former head of the Community Security Trust (CST) has been made an OBE for services to the Jewish community.

Mr Benson stepped down from the CST after 12 years at the helm, during which the charity received recognition for its work in Britain and abroad.

He is now president of Tell MAMA, the organisation that monitors anti-Muslim hate. He said: “I am proud my work has been honoured in this way, and I will continue to carry out this important work for the benefit of victims.”

Edward Ziff said he was “humbled and excited” to be made an OBE for services to the economy and community in Leeds.

The 57-year-old is the former president of the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, and remains involved with the communal organisation. For the past two years, he has been chairman of the Leeds Teaching Hospital Charitable Foundation, while heading the Leeds-based property company Town Centre Securities, which was started by his father.

He said: “I am very fortunate to work with some very talented people in all different parts of my life.”

Former barrister Lady Ritblat has been made an OBE for services to art philanthropy.

Jill Ritblat is a patron of the arts and former Turner Prize judge who has been purchasing from couture and ready-to-wear collections since the 1960s. In 1997 she donated much of this wardrobe to the Victoria and Albert Museum, including pieces by Giorgio Armani, Celia Birtwell, Ossie Clark, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent and Bellville Sassoon.

She also donated more than 400 similar items to the Design Museum, of which she is a trustee.

Cathy Ashley has been appointed an OBE for services to Holocaust commemoration and awareness.

She completed two terms as chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the charity that promotes the annual commemoration day and the thousands of events associated with it, from 2010 to 2016. At the end of her tenure, she said: “There has never been a more important time to commemorate the Holocaust and subsequent genocides — it is critical that not only do we not forget, but that we reflect on the consequences of what happens when hatred, discrimination and intolerance are unleashed against sections of our society.”

Professor Malcom Mason has been made an OBE for his contribution to the NHS and cancer research. A member of Cardiff Reform Synagogue, he has carried out pioneering work on combining radiotherapy and hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer.

Peggy Sherwood has been made an MBE for her 15 years as chair of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group (JGLG) up to 2015. The retired paediatric nurse said: “I’m really excited. It came as a total surprise and is a real honour.”

Ms Sherwood, 63, said that the JGLG was “male dominated” when she joined, but under her leadership diversified to include more women and people from the transgender and Charedi community. “I was very proud of that,” she said.

Ashley Tabor, the founder and executive president of media company Global, which owns a host of radio stations, including LBC, Capital FM and Radio X, is appointed an OBE.

Keith Simons was made an MBE for services to Jewish prisoners and to the Jewish community in Pinner, north-west London.

“It’s lovely — a thrill. I came home and saw the envelope marked Cabinet Office and thought, oh no, what have I done. Parking tickets aren’t dealt with by the Cabinet, are they?”

Mr Simons has been on the United Synagogue’s visitation committee, now part of the US Chesed department, since 1988. He visits Jewish prisoners in four jails outside London. “I’ve always been interested in social work, and prisons fascinated me,” he said.

The 71-year-old retired financial adviser has also been involved in the running of Pinner Synagogue since the early 1980s.

Stuart Nagler has been made an MBE for voluntary service in Hertfordshire. A former partner in a Radlett firm of chartered accountants, he has held around 40 different voluntary roles in the county over 50 years.

He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and an assistant police and crime commissioner. He is also a former mayor of Hertsmere.

The 70-year-old, who is a member of Radlett United Synagogue, said he hoped he had shown Jewish people could reach out to others outside the community. He added: “I get so much out of volunteering. My motto is: go on for as long as you can, doing all the good you can, for as many as you can.”

A British Empire Medal been awarded to Iby Knill, a 93-year-old Auschwitz survivor, for her services to Holocaust education and interfaith cohesion.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1923, Mrs Knill fought in the resistance against the Nazis before settling in Britain after the war. She has written a book, appeared on television and spoken to more than 50,000 young people about her experiences.

She said she was “chuffed” at the award. “You just carry on in your life and do what you consider is appropriate and what you think, but it’s very nice to be recognised.”

Also awarded a BEM for Holocaust education and interfaith cohesion is Sabina Miller, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto.

Born in the Polish capital in 1922, she arrived in Britain after the war having lost her parents in the Holocaust.

Mrs Miller, who has two children, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild, said: “I’m happy I survived and I have achieved a lot. I have beautiful children and lovely people around me”.

Dr Rudi Leavor, a German-Jewish refugee, received a BEM for services to the Jewish community and interfaith relations in Bradford.

Dr Leavor, 91, who fled from his home in Berlin to Britain with his family in 1937, has held a variety of roles at Bradford Synagogue and has spent the past decade as chairman.

He said: “It’s a great honour for me and for the refugee community who have demonstrated that they have contributed to the wellbeing of this country.”

Rachel Ehrentreu has been recognised with a BEM for services to the vulnerable and elderly members of the Jewish community in north-west London.

A great-grandmother who turns 84 this month, Mrs Ehrentreu is a chaplain at the Royal Free Hospital and also works for the Chevra Kadisha and an organisation supporting the elderly and Holocaust survivors called Neshei.

She said: “I feel that it’s an honour for the Jewish community and I feel unworthy of it but I’m grateful. Believe me, giving is living and I really enjoy the work.”

Dr Linda Greenwall received the BEM for services to the dental profession.

Chief Superintendent Sue Williams, the borough commander for Tower Hamlets, who has worked in policing for three decades, has been awarded Queen’s Police Medal

Before moving to Tower Hamlets in 2016, she was borough commander for Redbridge.

The Radlett Reform Synagogue member said she was thrilled at the award. "I hope this will provide a platform for me to further engage communities and inspire others to seek a career in policing our capital."


Reporting by Lianne Kolirin 
and Ben Weich


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