Continental Friends

There follow reports from recent get-togethers.

For information about meetings email Susan Harrod - susan@ajr.org.uk

Southern Groups

AJR Book Club

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Lovely Afternoon
Quite spontaneously we came to talk about how each of us came to this country and our experiences from then on. Serious but also funny stories. A lovely afternoon.

AJR Film Club

for further information, contact susan@ajr.org.uk

Nowhere in Africa
Meeting in Whetstone, 25 Film Club members enjoyed Nowhere in Africa, expertly introduced by Martin Aaron. The film is based on Stefanie Zweig’s autobiography, in which she recounts her family’s flight from Nazi Breslau to Kenya, where hankerings after the lost German life and marital tensions are set in beautiful landscapes.

Birmingham

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Bright Company and Delicious Food
We met on a grey wet June day but the company was bright and the food, as always, delicious - compliments to the catering staff at Andrew Cohen House and to Lesser’s for keeping us all together.

Brighton and Hove

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Jews in the Arab World
Harif’ founder Lynn Julius showed a film about Jews in Muslim countries over the centuries. She highlighted the violent dispossession in Iraq and the loss of life in many pogroms, especially during and after the Holocaust. No acknowledgement of guilt had been made or reparations paid to the survivors, Lynn said.

Bristol and Bath

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

‘Forced Walks: Honouring Esther’
We met for a convivial lunch. Artists Lorna Brunstein and Richard White showed slides on ‘Forced Walks: Honouring Esther’. The walks commemorate the death march to Belsen, which Lorna’s mother survived, but the memory is still very powerful.

Bromley Continental Friends

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Whoopee!

A fascinating talk by David Barnett about the amazing Lady Judith Montefiore was followed by a Rinkoff Lunch of equally astounding quality!!! Whoopee!


Cambridge

for further information, contact eva@ajr.org.uk

Women in Jewish Religious Life
Louise Heilbron told us that the first women rabbi, Regina Jonas, was ordained in Germany in 1935. Forty years later, Jackie Tabick was ordained as the first woman rabbi in the UK. Being ordained was one thing, but finding a pulpit another. There remained resistance to appointing women to the job of rabbi as the role was deemed incompatible with a woman’s family duties. By the 70s much had changed, women rabbis having become accepted and respected.

Card and Games Club

for further information, contact susan@ajr.org.uk

The More the Merrier!
We all enjoyed a deli lunch and games of Bridge, Scrabble, Kalooki and Rummikub followed. The number attending the AJR Games Afternoons is steadily increasing. The more the merrier! We hope this event will become a regular feature in the AJR calendar.

Cardiff

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

Churchill’s Secret Army
We had another pleasant lunch followed by a screening of Churchill’s Secret Army, which depicts the eventual acceptance of German and Austrian Jewish refugees who wished to serve in the British Army after having been classified as ‘enemy aliens’. They served their country with great courage.

Child Survivors Association

for further information, contact susan@ajr.org.uk

'Why is Hebrew Written Backwards?'
Dr Martin Stern answered the question ‘Why do you write Hebrew backwards?’ and was assisted by members of the audience. Diversions led also to the roots of a number of English-language words - neither Latin nor Greek but Phoenician/Hebrew. Dorothy’s cakes were a delight for the palate.

Ealing

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

The Life of Eleanor Rathbone
Dr Susan Cohen gave an inspiring talk on the life of Eleanor Rathbone, a tireless campaigner for refugees’ and women’s rights from the 1920s to the end of WWII. Among her many achievements, she was the driving force behind the introduction of the child benefits system and she fought for the rights of Jewish internees during the war as well as drawing attention to the desperate situation in Europe.

Edgware

for further information, contact eva@ajr.org.uk

The Life of Primo Levi
Biographer Carole Angier spoke about Primo Levi, an author of non-fiction and factual journalism but primarily a chemist who survived Auschwitz. He presented himself as very boring, introverted and a lifelong depressive.

Essex

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Happy Birthday, Otto!
Our Chairman Otto Deutsch celebrated his 88th birthday at our July meeting in the Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation Synagogue Hall. Many congregants, including President Derek Silverstone and his wife Rosalyn, came to share this special day.
Otto recalled his life in Vienna - including when his mum bought him his first long trousers on his seventh birthday! - and paid tribute to all the Jewish mothers who had sent their children away to freedom. Referring to the July 2016 trip to Harwich, which had taken place on the 77th anniversary of the original journey, he played to us Sophie Tucker’s My Yiddishe Momme and showed us a photo of his sister Adele, who had been seven weeks too old to go on the Kindertransport.

Aged eleven Otto had celebrated his first birthday in England with a Christian family in Morpeth, near Newcastle. His first cousin, Alex Kessler, 87, here in Westcliff to join in the celebrations, was also given a home by this family but was more fortunate than Otto as his mother came to collect him after a year.

Six years ago, Otto told us, he had visited Mali Trostinec in Belarus and said Kaddish for his parents and sister who had been shot in a clearing in the woods.

A tour guide for 18 years until the age of 72, Otto had taken his passengers to Austria to hear Tyrolean folk music. Now, he played us the Radetzky March, claiming there was in Vienna a statue of him on his horse with Radetzky facing one way and the horse the other! He would, he said, be moving to London in a few years’ time when his health failed – he’d put an ad in the paper saying ‘Not so young man looking for not so young lady who must be able to make chicken soup.’


Ilford

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

Synagogues Past and Present
David Tomback gave us an illustrated talk on synagogues past and present. We saw some beautiful buildings in all parts of the world. Some sadly were destroyed by the Nazis but quite a few synagogues have been recently built too. A most enjoyable morning.

Imperial Cafe War Veterans

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Inspiring Meetings
We met probably for the last time in the format of monthly meetings, with the proposal to meet again at the end of the year. On this occasion, we discussed ‘Brexit’, with most of us still confused! These meetings have been inspiring over the years and I feel honoured to have heard all the different stories of wartime heroism recounted.

Kensington & Notting Hill

for further information, contact eva@ajr.org.uk

Garden Party
We met in Judy and David de Haas’s idyllic garden in the heart of Holland Park. While the setting was the picture of a perfect English summer tea party, the conversation at times transported us to far-away places and to another era as members exchanged stories about their youth and how they came to be in England.

Kent

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

‘We’ll Meet Again …’
We met for lunch at the Nutmeg Restaurant to discuss the future of this small group. It was amazing to hear from Inge Hack how, after her struggle to come here from Nuremberg, her son had been successful in obtaining a First from Cambridge. ‘We'll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day …!’

Kingston & Surrey

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

Tea and Planning
Members met at the beautiful home of Susan Zisman, who put on a fabulous tea. We discussed plans for the rest of the year with a September date now in the diary. A huge thank you to Susan for being a great hostess.

Marlow Continental Friends

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Painful Memories
Meeting at the home of Alan Kaye, we exchanged reminiscences about our families’ backgrounds. Many of us regretted not asking our parents/grandparents about their history - and most of them didn’t want to disclose the painful memories of their refugee experiences anyway. It was also interesting to find out how we all ended up in deepest Berkshire/Buckinghamshire!

North London

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

Questioning ‘Progress’
Paul Lang’s talk on photography proved most interesting as his presentation covered the evolution from the old, revered box camera to the current digital equipment. It left some of us wondering whether progress is always welcome. Once again, this was a most interesting morning.

North West London

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Righteous Gentile Aristides de Sousa Mendes
Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Diane Barnett told us, performed the greatest rescue operation conducted by one person during the Holocaust. He was also the first of over 40 diplomats to be accorded the status of Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem.
Sousa Mendes was the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux in 1939 when tens of thousands of refugees were pouring into France to get to the port of Lisbon. Salazar, the Portuguese Prime Minister, forbade the issue of transit visas through Spain to Portugal specifically to ‘Jews expelled from the countries of their nationality or from those they came from’. Sousa Mendes was thus in no position to help any of the thousands of Jewish and other refugees who were crowding into his consulate.
In June 1940 he made a decision to issue illegal transit visas to any who required them in Bordeaux and Hendaye, thus enabling the thousands of recipients to cross through Spain to Portugal and escape almost certain death. He and his family were severely punished by the fascist Portuguese regime.
Notwithstanding that he saved some 12,000 Jews and thousands of others, Sousa Mendes is relatively unknown. In Portugal it took over 40 years for him to be recognised as a saviour of refugees and in most other countries, including the UK, hardly anyone has heard of him. Diane Barnett would like to contact anyone who received a Mendes Transit Visa or members of their families. Please contact the Editor of the AJR Journal, who will pass on any relevant information.

Norwich (Norfolk)

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

Walking through Germany
Phyllida Scrivens, author of the recently published biography of our member Joe Stirling, told us about his walking through Germany and into Holland as a very young boy in the hope of ending up in England. Eventually he had to return home to start on his journey to these shores via the Kindertransport. Phyllida also told us about the people he met here who helped him towards a successful life.

Nottingham

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

Meeting in Rural Leicestershire
Some 15 of us, meeting at the lovely home of Ruth and Jurgen Schwiening in rural Leicestershire, were given a delicious lunch and entertained by a small group of musicians who played and sang Jewish, Israeli and other music. We all appreciated the trouble our hosts had gone to. As usual, we were delighted to welcome the AJR’s Esther Rinkoff and Kathryn Williams.

Oxford

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

A Meeting with Local Author Marcus Ferrar
Local author Marcus Ferrar discussed two of his books. A Foot in Both Camps: A German Past for Better and for Worse is the story of his own upbringing: he has a German mother and a British father. The Budapest House: A Life Re-Discovered is the story of a Hungarian-Jewish woman who now lives in London. Both books resonated with the audience.

Pinner

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

‘Elstree: British Hollywood’
Bob Redman gave us a history of the Elstree film studios from their inception in the silent era through to modern times. The years have seen buildings going up, being demolished and replaced with new facilities as film production companies have come and gone.

Radlett

for further information, contact esther@ajr.org.uk

The Life of Sir Isaac Shoenberg
Meeting at the home of Alf Keiles, where we were treated to his wonderful hospitality, Lesley Urbach gave a most interesting presentation on the life of Sir Isaac Shoenberg and his enormous contribution to the invention of television. Lesley also showed us a short film about Eleanor Rathbone MP and discussed the work she did for refugees and, in particular, those held in the Huyton internment camp in Liverpool.

Welwyn Garden City

for further information, contact eva@ajr.org.uk

Helping Members to Use Computers
We were welcomed once again in Monica’s lovely home and treated to her generous hospitality. On this occasion, we were joined by Claude Vecht-Wolf, the AJR’s Computer Co-ordinator, as well as by a lovely sixth-form pupil from JCoSS, Danielle, who was on a week’s work experience with the AJR. Sam Ostro told her how he came to be a refugee in WGC and Claude explained how the SPF Connect Programme was designed to help survivors and refugees who find using computers difficult.

Wembley

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

Connect Programme Easy-to-Use
Michelle Mendall told members about how Six Point Foundation came into being and explained the Connect programme, showing members how simple and easy-to-use it is.

Wessex (Bournemouth)

for further information, contact kathryn@ajr.org.uk

‘The First Lady of British Jewry’
Lady Judith Montefiore (1784-1862), David Barnett told us, has been described as ‘the first lady of British Jewry’. She was unusually well educated in languages, music and the domestic arts and wrote the first Jewish cookery book – a sort of Jewish Mrs Beeton. After her marriage to the wealthy and influential Sir Moses Montefiore, she threw herself into his many philanthropic enterprises and travelled extensively with him to countries including Russia and the Holy Land.