Lady Lira Winston dies, aged 72: Tributes to one of ‘the brightest lights of Anglo-Jewry’

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Lady Lira Winston dies, aged 72: Tributes to one of ‘the brightest lights of Anglo-Jewry’

Death of Jewish educator and wife of Lord Robert Winston announced with 'enormous sadness and profound shock'

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Lady Lira Winston with Rabbi Lord Sacks picking up her Lifetime Achievement Award (Marc Morris Photography)
Lady Lira Winston with Rabbi Lord Sacks picking up her Lifetime Achievement Award (Marc Morris Photography)

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to one of the “brightest lights of Anglo-Jewry” Lady Lira Winston, who passed away suddenly on Thursday night aged 72.

Lira dedicated almost three decades of  her life to Jewish education, culminating in a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Rabbi Lord Sacks at the Jewish Schools Awards, held by Jewish News and the Partnerships for Jewish Schools in 2020.

The wife of academic and peer Lord Robert Winston, Lira started her career as a history researcher before moving in to the Jewish community in 1991 as director of the Sinclair Charitable Trust and for Jewish Continuity.

From 2000 she ran the UJIA Ashdown Fellowship, a leadership programme for education professionals,  before in 2008, becoming the Project Manager of the Jewish Leadership Council report, ‘The Future of Jewish Schools’.  She worked at the Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) in 2012 as Assistant Director, supporting Jewish education, and was recognised in 2020 for 25 years of service.

Her award was presented by former One Direction superstar Harry Styles, with the late rabbi Lord Sacks saying at the time, it was “a privilege to present Lady Lira Winston with the Lifetime Achievement Award “Lira has dedicated her life to Jewish education in the UK and our community owes her an enormous debt of gratitude for everything she has done”.

Lady Lira Winston with Lord Winston at the PAJES-Jewish News Jewish Schools Awards (Marc Morris Photography)

PaJeS, with who she worked so closely with a decade, said:  “It is with enormous sadness and profound shock that we share with you the news that our wonderful friend, mentor and colleague Lady Lira Winston passed away last night.

“It is hard to describe the role she played in our lives driven by her love for Jewish education and determination to ensure the best for us all. She was a caring and trusted friend and through her wisdom and love for Jewish Education she has been the driving force behind PaJeS since its inception.

“She was such an exceptional lady and an absolute inspiration and it is fitting that she was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2020, as he has dedicated her life to Jewish Education and been a mentor and guide for school leaders over so many years.

“It is so poignant that the award was presented by Rabbi Sacks z”l, in such a short time we have lost two of the brightest lights of Anglo-Jewry.

“She will be greatly missed by us all and our thoughts are with her husband, children and grandchildren at this time.

The Jewish Leadership Council said she was “a dear colleague and mentor to so many of us.

“We are deeply saddened by this shocking news and our thoughts and prayers are with her  loved ones. May her memory be blessed.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Gary Mond said: “We are very sad to hear of the passing of Lady Winston whose life was dedicated to Jewish education, in particular with PaJeS. She made a huge impact and will be greatly missed.”

Lord and lady Winston married in 1973 and have three children, including Joel, Tanya and Ben Winston, who is a major TV producer in the US.

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