‘The bridge between his beloved Morocco and the Jewish people’: Sydney Assor dies aged 93

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‘The bridge between his beloved Morocco and the Jewish people’: Sydney Assor dies aged 93

Tributes paid to leader of Moroccan Jewish community in the UK who died on 26 April

Sydney Solomon Assor
Sydney Solomon Assor

The Moroccan Embassy in London has led tributes following the death of Sydney Assor, the leader of the Moroccan Jewish community in the UK at the age of 93.

Born in 1931 in Casablanca, Sydney’s family lived in a Muslim neighbourhood and enjoyed good relations with the community. In the 1950s Sydney joined a Dutch manufacturing company and came to England in 1961 when relocated by his employer.

Assor was the founder and chairman of the Association of Moroccan Jews in Great Britain, and co-founder of the Assembly of Moroccan Jewry.

He introduced former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Jewish charities in Morocco and, as a Board of Deputies member, initiated the first lunch attended by Moroccan and Egyptian ambassadors.

Pic: Sephardi Voices

Sydney also chaired the Surrey branch of the Three Faiths Forum, working tirelessly on interfaith initiatives. In 2016, he was inducted into the Order of Ouissam Alaouite as Commander, the highest Moroccan honour accorded to a foreigner.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in London told Jewish News it “deeply mourns the loss of Sydney Assor, a devoted son of Morocco who represented his homeland with pride in the United Kingdom. For more than three decades and as the leader of the Moroccan Jewish community in the UK, Sydney worked relentlessly to uphold and promote the Moroccan values of coexistence and tolerance.

“His commitment to fostering dialogue between Muslim and Jewish communities in the UK, inspired by the Moroccan model, has been acclaimed by all. In recognition of his contributions, he was honoured with the prestigious Commander of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, reflecting the high esteem in which he was held.

“We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew him. Sidney Assor’s memory and legacy will forever remain in our hearts and continue to guide us in our mission of promoting peace and understanding across diverse communities.”

A leading member of the Iraqi Jewish community in London and vice-president of the Board of Deputies, Edwin Shuker told Jewish News: “Sydney Assor combined an intense love of the Jewish people with that of his beloved Morocco. It felt that he was the link, the bridge and the representative between the two.”

Dr Bea Lewkowicz, Director, Sephardi Voices UK said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news about the passing of Sydney Assor. We are grateful that we were able to record his life history in one of the first Sephardi Voices UK interterviews. Sydney was very proud of his Moroccan origins and had a very strong Moroccan Jewish identity, which deeply shaped his dedication to community and interfaith work.

Sydney Assor wearing the medal of Commander, the highest award granted to a foreigner by the Moroccan court. Pic: Jewish Refugees

“He gave us a profound message at the end of his interview: ‘Don’t be ever ashamed of your origin. You are part of a history, you are part of something.  Even infinitesimal, you are part of something which somebody else can learn from it. I am proud to be Moroccan.

“I am proud to have a British passport. I am very proud to have had a French education. Above all I am proud to be Jewish.  Because to be Jewish is a hell of a responsibility [laughs] Be your true self, whoever you are.'”

The Board of Deputies said it “mourns the passing of Sydney Assor, a remarkable man who worked tirelessly to bring together Jewish and Muslim communities. A longstanding member of the Board, Sydney was a champion for Jews of Moroccan origin living in Great Britain, and his loss is deeply felt. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and to the entire Moroccan Jewish community, for whom he did so much.”

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