Irreplaceable: those we mourned in 2022

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Irreplaceable: those we mourned in 2022

Community giants, precious Holocaust survivors and iconic entertainers were among those we lost in 2022.

Community giants, precious Holocaust survivors and iconic entertainers were among those we lost in 2022. Here are some of the high-profile figures who were mourned during the last 12 months:


Freddie Knoller

Freddie Knoller

Born 17 April 1921 in Vienna, the Resistance fighter who evaded capture and survived torture and Auschwitz died at the age of 100, three months short of his 101st birthday.

After the Shoah, Knoller dedicated himself to helping others, supporting the Association of Jewish Refugees’ social welfare projects, sending packages of support to other survivors and refugees in need.

Awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to Holocaust education, he is survived by his wife of 70 years Freda, two daughters and a grandson.

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Tributes have flooded in from across the community and beyond for ‘inspirational’ Leonie Lewis.

Leonie Lewis

Leonie Lewis died at the age of 66, just six weeks after a devastating diagnosis of lymphoma.

A Jewish community powerhouse, her life was dedicated to service. She was a trustee and council member of the Faith Forum for London, joint vice-president of the United Synagogue, former co-chair of United Synagogue Women, adviser to the Children’s Aid Committee, assessor for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and founder of the Jewish Volunteering Network (JVN), where she remained a director for more than 20 years.

She was awarded an MBE in December 2017 by her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to the Jewish community.

Leonie and husband Howard had two sons and nine grandchildren.

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Dot Cotton played by June Brown in Eastenders

June Brown

The legendary Eastenders actress played chain-smoking, Christian hypochondriac and long-suffering mother Dot Cotton.

Appearing in 2,884 episodes across 35 years on the BBC soap, Brown died on 3 April at the age of 95.

In an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, the Suffolk-born actress discovered that through her grandmother, she was, rather fittingly, descended from noted East End Jewish bare-knuckle boxer Isaac Bitton. Her ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled during the Spanish Inquisition and from Spanish, Dutch and Algerian descent.

June began her acting career at the end of the second World War, where she served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. She then trained at London’s Old Vic Theatre School.

She was made an OBE in the December 2021 New Year Honours for services to drama and to charity.

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Kay Mellor, who died on Sunday, received an OBE in 2010

Kay Mellor

The scriptwriter behind popular TV hits such as Fat Friends, Band of Gold, The Syndicate and Girlfriends died at the age of 71 on 15 May 2022.

Born Kay Daniel on May 11, 1951 to a Jewish mother and Catholic father who later separated, the actress, producer and writer was brought up in a council house in Leeds.

She began her career writing plays and working on Coronation Street for Granada TV.

Awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Award in 1997 for Outstanding Writing for Television, Mellor became a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 2016 and was presented with an OBE in 2010. She had two daughters, actress Faye and television producer Yvonne Francas with her husband Anthony.

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Bernard Levy, wearing his medals, meets the Queen at Bergen Belsen in 2015

Bernard Maurice Levy

Born in Hull, the last Jewish liberator of Bergen Belsen died at the age of 96.

On April 16, 1945, the British-Jewish soldier was only 19 when he was tasked with ‘sorting the living from the dead’ at the Nazi concentration camp.

The scenes he witnessed were so horrific he suffered from insomnia for over seventy years.

Passionate about supporting the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust, in June 2015 he returned to Bergen Belsen for the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, where he was introduced to the Queen during her first visit to a Second World War concentration camp.

Later in life, he went on to found high street men’s fashion chain ‘High and Mighty’ which had over 40 stores across five countries.

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Simon Hass in his youth.

Cantor Reverend Simon Hass

One of the most celebrated chazans of the 20th century and a passionate advocate for Yiddish and Hebrew folk music, Simon Hass died at the age of 97 on Saturday 15 October.

Born into a Chasidic family in Yaroslav, Poland in 1926, he attended yeshivah. At the outbreak of war and the Nazi occupation, he was arrested and deported to a Siberian camp aged just 13. His sister perished in the appalling conditions.

Spending the next seven years of his life there, the Great Synagogue in Irkutsk elected him chazan at just 17 years old. When peace in Europe was finally declared, Simon and his family moved to Paris where he was awarded a scholarship to the famous musical Conservatory.

Moving to Britain, after a brief period as chazan at Hendon Synagogue around 1949, he was inducted as chazan at Central Synagogue in April 1951 where he remained for the next forty years, going on to study at the London College of Music. He performed at concerts in the USA, Israel and at London’s Festival Hall.

Simon and his wife Elaine had three children. He retired in 1993.

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Simon Winters receiving his OBE in 2009

Simon Winters

The much-respected community figure and CST volunteer lost his battle with terminal brain cancer in October at the age of 62.

Well known for his long serving role as chief executive of JNF UK, Winters also helped to organise one of the first joint CST/Police patrols for the High Holy Days and was pivotal in establishing Petra’s Place, a nursery for children with autism.

The flying and motor racing enthusiast was awarded an OBE in 2009 for his charitable work. He volunteered as a Sergeant with Hertfordshire Police from 2018, continuing even while suffering from the disease.

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Sir Erich Reich details his life as a Kindertransport orphan in his memoirs, The Boy In The Statue

Sir Eric Reich

Born in Vienna in 1935, at the age of four, Eric said goodbye to his parents and boarded the Kindertransport. He never saw them again, later discovering they perished at Auschwitz.

After the war, Eric attended Hasmonean school in London for just three months, before making aliyah at the age of 13 to live on a kibbutz with his aunt and uncle.

The Holocaust survivor and entrepreneur turned philanthropist detailed his life experiences in his popular book, ‘The Boy in The Statue: From Wartime Vienna to Buckingham Palace.’

He is immortalised as the smallest boy in the iconic Frank Meisler ‘Kindertransport – The Arrival’ monument, at Liverpool Street station, and was knighted by the-then Prince Charles in 2010 for services to charity and to the Kindertransport.

A campaigner for child-refugees and a long-time prominent member of the Association of Jewish Refugees, he was a former trustee and chair of AJR’s Kindertransport group.

He died on 2 November at the age of 87.

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Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu with the Chief Rabbi.

Dayan Ehrentreu

Chanoch Ehrentreu was an acclaimed former head of the London Beth Din who witnessed Kristallnacht as a child. Described by the Chief Rabbi as ‘an exceptionally learned and fearless leader”, he was born in Frankfurt to a family of rabbis.

His grandfather was the Chief Rabbi of Munich during Hitler’s attempted coup in 1923.

After his family moved to the UK, he became the communal rabbi of Manchester, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of his contribution to the Jewish community and petitioned for improving the lives of agunot (chained wives) through his lobbying for the 2003 Act of Parliament which prevented Jewish men from receiving a civil divorce without a get (religious divorce). He died on 24th November.

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Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy, 81, with Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Rabbi Joseph Dweck
((C) Blake Ezra Photography)










Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy

The Emeritus Spiritual head of the S&P Sephardi Community was one of the most respected rabbinic leaders in the UK, known for his impact across different parts of the community – and also across faiths. For the latter, he was awarded an OBE for services to interfaith.

He was also the founder of the Naima Preparatory School – the first new Sephardi school in the UK for decades – and of a leadership programme whose graduates included former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

His S&P successor, rabbi Jospeph Dweck , described him as a “towering figure” while the former rabbi at Lauderdale Road, Israel Elia, was also among those paying tribute: “Rabbi Levy would say, ‘Any Jew trying to do better is a good Jew.’. By his own measure, Rabbi Abraham Levy was a very good Jew indeed.”

He was laid to rest at Hoop Lane Cemetery in Golders Green in front of a congregation of around 400.

Tributes to ‘towering’ former leader of Spanish and Portuguese Jewry in UK

Cllr Melvin Cohen

Melvin Cohen

Barnet’s longest serving councillor and two-time mayor represented the Golders Green ward continuously from 1982.  A former student at Hasmonean and University College London, he was a long-time chair of the borough's planning committee and raised £250k for Shooting Star Children’s Hospice during his first mayoral year - a record which stands to today.

He was hailed by the chair of the Conservative Party, Nadhim Zahawi, for his "amazing record of service".

Buried in Israel, he is survived by sons – Dean, a fellow Conservative councillor in Barnet, and Justin, the news editor and co-publisher of Jewish News.

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Lord Young

Lord David Young of Graffham

The British-Jewish politician, member of the House of Lords and favourite fixer for Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 90.

Born in Clapton, north London, Young’s father was a Jewish immigrant and flour importer from Yurevich, near Minsk.

Initially a solicitor, Young embarked on a highly successful business career across industrial property and construction. A dedicated philanthropist, he was the first president of Jewish Care and also served as president of Chai Cancer Care, the Jewish Museum in Camden and Jewish educational charity ORT. It was his work with ORT that brought him to the attention of the Thatcher government.

Employment Secretary and Trade and Industry Secretary in the 1980’s, Margaret Thatcher has been quoted as saying of him: “Other people bring me problems. David brings me solutions.”

He lived with his family near Chichester but attended Central synagogue in St. John’s Wood to be with his six grandchildren.

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