120 over 80: Our oldest and wisest

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120 over 80: Our oldest and wisest

From rabbis and volunteers to Shoah survivors and political figures, here is part three of our celebration of the Jewish community's original social influencers!

Jewish News’ Forty Under 40 and Eighteen Under 18 lists celebrate those set to shape the future, but what about those who’ve influenced our community’s present and past?

In partnership with Jewish Care, we profile 120 individuals aged 80 and over whose achievements have inspired us for decades.

Why 120? Well, to paraphrase the famous Jewish blessing:

“May those in our countdown live until 120.”


Sir Harry Solomon, 83  

Committed philanthropist Sir Harry Solomon is a longstanding mensch in the community. The co-founder of one of Britain’s largest food businesses, Hillsdown Holdings, the 83-year-old has for decades served Jewish causes with distinction.

Sir Harry Solomon

A key figure in Jewish Continuity, he latterly helped set up the UJIA and currently serves as vice chairman of the Portland Trust, promoting peace, stability and economic co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians.

In 2014, the Western Galilee College in Akko named its new business school after him, and the following year he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Israeli Business Awards in recognition of his extensive philanthropic efforts across education and coexistence initiatives.


• Andrew Gilbert and Daniel Carmel-Brown: This list is our socially- distanced hug to over 80s

• Part two: 120 Over 80 – meet our mentors!  

• Part three: 120 Over 80 – meet our golden generation!   

• Part four: 120 Over 80: Lockdown lowdown of our golden generation


Joy Wolfe, 82 

With a lifetime of service to the Jewish and lay community, Joy Wolfe is unquestionably a legendary leader. An unwavering Zionist, the 82-year-old is president of StandWithUs UK and honorary life president of Manchester Zionist Central Council.

Joy Wolfe

Following a distinguished career as a magistrate specialising in family law and probation, she also served as a local councillor in Maidstone and co-founded the Stockport Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Joy’s many accolades include receiving an MBE for services to the Greater Manchester community in 2009, and being awarded the Golden Golda Award from the World Zionist Organisation in 2019.

Judith Elkan, 90 

Judith Elkan

Judith Elkan is the founder and chair of Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum (FBFF). The support group offers moral and financial support to the Bereaved Families Forum, comprising about 650 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost loved ones during the decades-long conflict and are seeking reconciliation over revenge.

Praised for “persisting with charm and good manners”, since 2003 Judith has organised numerous speaking tours, concerts and exhibitions across the UK for Israeli and Palestinian members of the Forum and fundraised extensively to support the initiative. Under the 90-year-old’s stewardship, the organisation has also met with numerous parliamentarians to spread the message of peace.

Judith Usiskin, 86 

Judith Usiskin

As the co-founder and now honorary president of Jewish Women’s Aid, Judith Usiskin has played an integral role in supporting Jewish women facing domestic abuse. For the past 30 years, Judith has been a driving force in developing the charity, overcoming significant resistance to the admission that domestic abuse existed in the community.

A social worker by profession, it was while working for Jewish Care that the 86-year-old realised that many abused Jewish women had nowhere to turn for help. Her contribution was recognised in 2004 with an MBE for services to Jewish Women’s Aid and to the Jewish community.

June Bradbury, 84 

Over the past decade, June Bradbury has been a beacon of light to the East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue (ELELS) community. Praised as a “constant ray of sunshine”, the 84-year-old recently helped create a ‘Covid-19 Phone Tree’ to assist vulnerable members of the community.

June Bradbury

June also co-founded the synagogue’s innovative Shelanu (Inclusive) services, which celebrates Shabbat through music, multisensory experiences, and prayer. She was also involved in organising the first ever women-led service at ELELS in 2018. Attended by more than 50 people, it was dedicated to late community stalwart Betty Benscher and celebrated other pioneering women to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Kitty Hart-Moxon, 93 

Kitty Hart-Moxon, 93

One of the first British survivors to share her testimony, Kitty Hart-Moxon is a pioneer in Holocaust education. Polish-born, Kitty and her mother survived the IG Farben industrial concern in Bitterfeld, before being forcibly transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau and latterly onto a death march into Czechoslovakia.

Her memoir, I Am Alive, was published in 1961, at a time when few survivors spoke publicly, and in the 1980s she returned to Auschwitz with her son as part of a BBC documentary. The 93-year-old is an honorary patron for the Holocaust Educational Trust and helped shape its  groundbreaking ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project. Kitty was awarded an OBE in 2003 for services to Holocaust education.

Leonard Tabiz, 94 

Leonard Tabiz has been an “extraordinarily committed and reliable” volunteer serving the community. A social worker by training, Len rose to become assistant director of social work for Croydon Council.

Leonard Tabiz

Since retiring, the 94-year-old has worked with the social services team at Jewish Care and, for the past decade, as a regular volunteer at the Nightingale House care home in Wandsworth.

With his empathetic character, impressive academic knowledge and wealth of life experience, Len regularly provides sensitive support for the Men’s Group and the Holocaust Survivors’ group.

Leslie Kleinman, 91 

Leslie Kleinman has moved thousands of people with his Holocaust testimony.

Leslie Kleinman

Born in Romania, as a teenager he survived, among others, Auschwitz and Flossenbürg concentration camps, as well as two death marches, before being liberated by American troops.

Working with JRoots and the Holocaust Educational Trust, the 91-year-old now dedicates his time to educating students and enabling them to see history first-hand by displaying the tattoo on his arm from Auschwitz.

In 2018, he accompanied several grandchildren of Holocaust survivors on a visit to Poland, sharing his testimony with them over two days. Leslie was awarded a BEM in 2017 for services to Holocaust education.

Lord Leslie Turnberg, 86 

Lord Turnberg speaking in the House of Lords

Lord Turnberg is a pre-eminent British physician and outstanding advocate for communal causes. The 86-year-old was professor of medicine and a medical school dean at the University of Manchester (1973-1997) and served as president of the Royal College of Physicians (1992–1997). He made significant contributions to gastroenterology and academic medicine and was prescient in promoting public health. Raised to peerage in 2000, Leslie speaks regularly on health policy issues and the Middle East, co-chairs the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group and took a firm stand against antisemitism. His modesty, humility and dignity confronting tragic adversity are an example to all.

Lily Ebert, 97 

Lily Ebert speaking at a Holocaust Educational Trust dinner

Praised as a “stalwart of Holocaust education”, Lily has shared her testimony with prime ministers, chancellors and London mayors to impress upon them the importance of educating the next generation. Just 14 when she was deported to Auschwitz, she later survived slave labour in an ammunition factory near Leipzig.

Always open to innovative ways of sharing her testimony, in 2018 she sat all day in Liverpool Street Station sharing her story with commuters during the HET’s #HearMyStory campaign. Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, the 97-year-old has embraced digital technologies to connect with people across the world. Lily was awarded a BEM in 2016 for contributions to Holocaust education.

Louis Rapaport, 87 

Louis Rapaport

Louis Rapaport has been a longstanding leader in Manchester’s Jewish community. An active member for more than 60 years, he served as president of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester from 2004 to 2007, tackling challenging issues including attacks on Jewish gravestones at Rainsough Jewish cemetery.

Louis has served on the Board of Deputies since 1956 and is an executive member of Manchester Council for Community Relations. A veteran of the Korean War, the 87-year-old also remains an active member and supporter of AJEX. He is described as “tireless, energetic and enthusiastic,” and received a Special Recognition Award by the Manchester Representative Council in 2019.

Mala Tribich, 90 

Mala Tribich

Mala Tribich’s tremendous dedication to Holocaust education makes her a leading light among survivors. Born in Poland, Mala survived the Piotrków ghetto, and subsequently Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.

Pre-lockdown, the 90-year-old would spend several days a week travelling nationwide, particularly to small towns who may never have heard a Holocaust survivor speak before.

In 2017, Mala shared her testimony as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s webcast to more than 500 schools, reaching 40,000 students in the largest single Holocaust remembrance event in the world. Last year, Mala spoke at the national ceremony to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, alongside The Duke of Cambridge, and met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Malcolm Ozin, 86

Malcolm Ozin

Malcolm Ozin is president of Jewish Blind & Disabled (JBD), a charity providing secure homes to hundreds of disabled Jews. Alongside the late Cecil Rosen, Malcolm established the charity in 1969, using his business acumen to develop a 20-apartment building in south London.

More than 50 years later, the charity provides 317 purpose-built warden assisted flats across London, Essex and Hertfordshire and has helped thousands of people to live independently. Malcolm was awarded an MBE in 2012 for his services to charity. Highlighted for his “generosity and commitment to care for all”, the 86-year-old was also a longstanding warden of Hendon Reform Synagogue.

Malvyn Benjamin, 84

Malvyn Benjamin’s substantial communal involvement spans more than 60 years. He has been a Deputy representing Hendon United Synagogue on the Board of Deputies for a remarkable 64 years.

Malvyn Benjamin

“Slightly mollified from his former firebrand days”, the 84-year-old has been involved in communal affairs since university, where he chaired the Inter-University Jewish Federation (the precursor of UJS).

A former judge on the World Zionist Supreme Council, Malvyn also chaired the Zionist Federation’s Public Affairs Committee and served as vice president of British Likud. A proud advocate for Israel, Malvyn frequently appears on television, radio and in print, including in the Daily Telegraph and The Times newspapers.

Manfred Goldberg, 90

The Duchess of Cambridge with survivor Manfred Goldberg and the Duke of Cambridge with survivor Zigi Shipper during their visit to the former Nazi concentration camp at Stutthof.
Photo credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

For many years unable to recount his testimony, Manfred Goldberg has for the past 15 years eloquently shared his testimony with thousands of people. German-born, Manfred survived the Riga Ghetto, Stutthof concentration camp in Poland and a death march before liberation.

With a unique ability to “grip listeners from start to finish”, Manfred has addressed more than 30 educational establishments, numerous major businesses, including HSBC and RBS, and even City Hall. In 2017, he accompanied the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on an internationally reported visit to Stutthof, ensuring millions of viewers heard his story. The 90-year-old was recently awarded a BEM for services to Holocaust education.

Dr Martin Aaron, 83

Dr Martin Aaron

Dr Martin Aaron is the co-founder and honorary life president of Jami, the Jewish mental health charity.

The 83-year-old has pushed all boundaries to raise awareness of mental health for more than 30 years, directly influencing government by regularly attending the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mental Health.

Martin is also the founder chair of the National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum, co-chaired the medical group of the Three Faiths Forum, and was an adviser to the Prince’s Trust for 11 years. A former visiting professor at Staffordshire University, he still reaches a growing academic network dedicated to mental health campaigning.

Dr Martin Stern, 82

Dr Martin Stern

Dr Martin Stern has worked tirelessly to educate thousands of people across the country about the Holocaust. Born in the Netherlands in 1938, he survived Theresienstadt concentration camp after being arrested by the Gestapo aged just five.

Upon arrival in Britain in the 1950s, he trained successfully as a doctor and has dedicated his retirement to sharing his testimony.

His unique approach focuses on the psychology of genocide, developed in partnership with academics at Leicester University. Never one to slow down, the 82-year-old has embraced new technology, sharing his story via Zoom throughout the pandemic, and was awarded an MBE in 2018.

Mervyn Kersh, 95

Normandy veteran Mervyn Kersh pictured during the war and today

War hero Mervyn Kersh has served his country with distinction both during and since his active service. A sergeant in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, he landed on Gold Beach during D-Day before advancing through central Europe and arriving at the Bergen Belsen concentration camp just after liberation.

As president of both Barnet Normandy Veterans and Southgate and District AJEX, the 95-year-old has educated thousands of school children about his powerful personal testimony. In 2015, Mervyn was presented with the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest distinction, and earlier this year received a covetedPoints of Light Award from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Michael Bogod, 92

Michael Bogod

Michael Bogod’s remarkable contribution to the Reform movement spans more than 70 years. The 92-year-old has sat on Cardiff Reform Synagogue’s council since 1950, first as a youth liaison officer and thereafter for nearly 40 years as honorary treasurer.

Michael’s dedication to the national Reform movement includes serving as vice chair of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (RSGB), where he initiated the Reform Rabbinic Pay Scales, and established the Leo Baeck College.

Michael also oversaw the rebuild of Cardiff Reform Synagogue in 1949 and all subsequent major structural developments, including the aptly named Bogod Hall. He is now the council’s first honorary life member.

Sir Michael Heller, 84

Sir Michael Heller

Sir Michael Heller is the chairman of property firm London & Associated Properties and a highly generous philanthropist.

A committed Zionist, the 84-year-old has donated ambulances and mobile intensive care units to Magen David Adom, is a patron of the Jewish Museum and supports the work of Jewish educational network ORT.

Deeply passionate about the arts, he also donates to the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and Hampstead Theatre. Michael formerly served as deputy chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel and currently sits on the Board of the Centre for Policy Studies, a centre-right think tank. Knighted in 2013 for charitable services, he received an Algemeiner Honouree in 2019.

Lord Monroe Palmer, 81

Lord Monroe Palmer

For decades, Lord Palmer has passionately advocated for Israel and the Jewish community among the highest echelons of power.

A former Treasurer of the Liberal Party, the 81-year-old has served as Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords since 2018 and Deputy Chairman of Committees since 2017.

Monroe is currently honorary president of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI), having served as honorary chairman for more than 20 years, and advises the party leader on the Middle East.

A founding member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, the former Barnet councillor is also vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council and sits on the Community Security Trust’s advisory board. He was appointed an OBE in the 1982 New Year Honours.

Morella Kayman, 85

Morella Kayman

Morella Kayman is the co-founder and vice president of the Alzheimer’s Society. Frustrated by the lack of support available after her husband developed early onset dementia in his 40s, Morella established the Alzheimer’s Disease Society in 1979 alongside a fellow carer.

Later rebranded the Alzheimer’s Society, the charity now employs more than 100 people, operates a £100 million budget and reaches thousands of people every year.

Described as an “incredible woman who has triumphed in the face of adversity”, the 85-year-old also regularly fundraises for and supports Jewish Care. Morella was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to healthcare and won Jewish Care’s Unsung Hero award in 2011.

Naomi Pope, 91

Naomi Pope

Naomi Pope, who sadly passed away since this list was compiled, has a remarkable life story – taking her from the War of Independence to becoming a successful fashion designer in London.

Born in Burma but stranded in England in 1939, Naomi joined Habonim and, aged just 17, travelled to France post-war to help displaced persons from liberated concentration camps.

An avid Zionist, in 1947 she sailed on the ‘Exodus’ and helped found Kibbutz Kfar HaNassi in northern Israel. The 91-year-old subsequently joined the Machal unit, carrying ammunition in trenches near the Syrian border during the War of Independence. Naomi volunteered for many Jewish charities.

Nathan (Natie) Kirsh, 89

Nathan (Natie) Kirsh, 89

Natie Kirsh is one of the community’s most generous and humble philanthropists.

The 89-year-old spent a lifetime initiating and building businesses, first milling in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), now in South Africa, UK, Australia and USA. He is deeply committed to philanthropy, viewing this as his privilege in life and is guided by “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”.

His global Foundation funds start-up loans for businesses and high school computer vocational training in Eswatini and Israel. His recent initiative provides clean water and solar power to millions with Innovation Africa. Closer to home, Natie has been incredibly supportive of the UK Jewish community, especially during Covid-19 with the Jewish Leadership Council’s emergency appeal. South Hampstead Synagogue, his community, received notable support for their new site.

Nettie Keene, 86

Nettie Keene

Legendary volunteer and fundraiser Nettie Keene has selflessly dedicated her time for nearly half a century. The 86-year-old has volunteered at Redbridge Jewish Community Centre since 1972, where she is a day centre co-ordinator and volunteer hairdresser.

Her personal touch is “second to none” and Nettie still sits on the Sunday Socials Committee, makes soup for Ladies that Lunch and works in the Meals on Wheels office. Sadly, over a short period Nettie lost both her husband and son, Saul, who was aged just 40.

Faced with tragic circumstances, she has channelled her pain into forming a fundraising group, which has raised more than £50,000 for Saint Francis Hospice and Redbridge Jewish Community Centre.

Neville Sassienie, 89

Neville Sassienie

Neville Sassienie is a passionate environmentalist and stalwart of the Reform movement. Praised as a “prophetic voice of environmentalism”, the 89-year-old has successfully pushed the environmental agenda among communal leaders for decades.

The former chair of The Movement for Reform Judaism, Neville was highly active in the Board of Deputies’ Social Action Group, which focused on environmental issues.

He was also instrumental in establishing both Faith for the Climate, a space for faith communities working on climate change, and Eco Synagogue, which promotes environmental sustainability and engagement across the Jewish community. An accountant by trade, Neville also helped found Finchley Reform Synagogue in 1974.

Norman Rosenbaum, 86

Norman Rosenbaum embracing Kerry Rosenfeld at the the Jewish News’ Night of Heroes awards. Credit: Blake Ezra.

Norman Rosenbaum is a tireless fundraiser for Magen David Adom (MDA). An “incredible inspiration” to his 10 grandchildren, the 86-year-old has secured 12 ambulances to support Israel’s national emergency service.

Norman Rosenbaum

Thanks to his efforts, MDA has responded to an additional 70,000 calls using vehicles donated by the retired surgeon and his community at Cockfosters and N Southgate Synagogue.

Recently, he received the inaugural Humanitarian of the Year Award from MDA, and received a Points of Light Award from Theresa May in 2018.

Norman is currently fundraising for his 13th ambulance: his ‘barmitzvah ambulance’!

Dr Peter Kurer, 89

Dr Peter Kurer has campaigned tirelessly to secure recognition for Quakers who saved Jews from the Holocaust. Peter’s family were brought to Manchester in 1938 via a mass rescue operation of 7,000 Jews from Germany and Austria, funded by the British Quakers movement.

Dr Peter Kurer, 89

For eight years, he worked with historians to collate survivors’ anecdotes on the subject, finally securing recognition from Yad Vashem in 2010.

A pioneering figure in dentistry, the 89-year-old also spent more than a decade in Jerusalem volunteering at a dental clinic for underprivileged children.

Additionally, Peter chaired the charity responsible for the Morris Feinmann Home for the elderly, and was awarded a BEM last year for services to Holocaust Education.

Peter Levy, 81

Peter Levy

Peter Levy played an integral role in transforming the status of Reform Judaism. The “strategic funder” behind the Reform Movement’s Sternberg Centre, the 81-year-old worked tirelessly to create more Jewish educational institutions, including Akiva School and most recently Shofar Daycare Nursery.

Peter also served as chairman of the Jewish Chronicle for five years, and until recently as honorary vice president of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, having formerly chaired the research body. A past chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and vice president of London Youth, Peter was awarded an OBE in 1991 in recognition of services to charity. Sadly, Peter passed away after this list was selected.

Stephen Rubin, 82

Stephen Rubin

Stephen Rubin is a businessman and leading Jewish philanthropist. As chairman of the Pentland Group, which owns brands including Speedo and Berghaus, the 82-year has led industry efforts to eliminate child exploitation and tackle climate change.

Through the Rubin Family Charitable Trust, Stephen has donated large sums to lay and Jewish causes, including Crimestoppers, artsdepot in North Finchley, and various sporting initiatives in Israel. He is also president of the Holocaust Educational Trust and vice president of the Council of Christians and Jews. In 2002, Stephen was named an OBE for services to business and human rights, and was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame six years later.

Renee Salt, 91

Sadiq Khan hand-in-hand with Holocaust survivor Renee Salt at Auschwitz, at the event marking 75 years since the liberation of the camp

Renee Salt has overcome unimaginable heartache to educate thousands of people nationwide with her Holocaust testimony. Polish-born Renee survived appalling conditions in the Zduńska Wola ghetto before being transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and latterly Bergen-Belsen.

Renee Salt,

For decades unable to relive her experiences, she eventually worked with the BBC on the documentary, Grandchild of the Holocaust, about herself and her grandson.

The 91-year-old recently featured in the National Holocaust Museum’s ‘The Forever Project’,  and the Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Belsen75’ initiative. Last year, she returned to Auschwitz-Birkenau to mark the 75th anniversary of liberation. In 2016, she was awarded a BEM for services to Holocaust survivors, education and awareness.


Our panel of judges

Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, Former UK Minister of State for Pensions.  Rabbi Charley Baginsky,  Interim Director,  Liberal Judaism. Daniel Carmel-Brown, CEO Jewish Care,  Justin Cohen, News Editor, Jewish News. Russell Conn, President, Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region. Sarah David, Director, Yoni Jesner Foundation. Adam Dawson, Chair JAMI. Yocheved Eiger, CEO, Bikur Cholim (the Charedi community’s leading mental health charity). Dame Louise Ellman. David Ereira, Life President, Norwood & Vice President of S&P Sephardi Community. Ellisa Estrin, Director of Marketing, Communications & Customer Engagement, Jewish Care. Shirley Fenster, Immediate Past Co-Chair, Masorti Judaism. Richard Ferrer, Editor, Jewish News. Andrew Gilbert, Chair, 120 Over 80 panel. Nicky Goldman, Chief Executive, JVN (Jewish Volunteering Network). Michael Goldstein, President, United Synagogue. Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England. Henry Grunwald OBE QC,  President, World Jewish Relief. Gayle Klein, Trustee, Jewish Care. Helen Lewis, Vice Chair, Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.  Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Senior Rabbi, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue. Neil Martin OBE, Chief Executive, JLGB. Tracy Ann Oberman, Actress and writer. Rachel Riley,  TV presenter. Helen Simmons, CEO Nightingale Hammerson.

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