Vaccines chief, 101-year-old magician and Martin Lewis honoured by Queen

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Vaccines chief, 101-year-old magician and Martin Lewis honoured by Queen

Ten people also recognised for services to Holocaust education and remembrance in New Year Honours list

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Anthony Horowitz, Emily Lawson, Agnes Kaposi with her granddaughter and Martin Lewis
Anthony Horowitz, Emily Lawson, Agnes Kaposi with her granddaughter and Martin Lewis

The scientist who masterminded the UK’s vaccine rollout has been made a dame in a New Year Honours list that also includes a top food writer, a young rabbi who went viral on social media, a magical 101-year-old and nine people recognised for Holocaust education. 

Emily Lawson, now Dame Emily, was the Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccine deployment programme, leading the NHS operation that has delivered tens of millions of vaccines and has helped save over 100,000 lives and countless hospitalisations. The Honours List says that Dame Emily’s “decisive action and exceptional leadership instilled a relentless focus nationally, regionally and locally on delivering the vaccine to those most at risk as soon as practically possible, as well as ensuring equal access for all communities”.

Dame Emily is a molecular scientist by training and was a keen follower of the late Rabbi Lord Sacks’ weekly sedra email. She is on the Steering Committee of the 30 Per Cent Club, which aims to increase representation of women on UK plc boards, and support greater diversity in the UK and global institutions.

Emily Lawson

Professor Anthony Finkelstein, the former Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security, and now president of City, University of London, has become a knight. A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a Distinguished Fellow of RUSI (the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies), Professor Finkelstein said his knighthood was “a source of great pleasure and pride, and a recognition of services with an amazing group of people across government. It’s important because it represents the contribution that science can make to our national security”.

Alyth Synagogue member Sir Anthony — the brother of Lord Finkelstein and civil servant Tamara Finkelstein — said that “our commitment to public service is something that is the result of being a family that has refugee origins. This is part of our collective gratitude to the UK for its role in my family’s survival. My particular contribution was in Britain’s national security, and I think there’s something profoundly important in the ability of British Jews to contribute to that”.

Professor Anthony Finkelstein

Meanwhile, three well-known Jews have been awarded CBEs for their contributions to literature and broadcasting.

They include food writer Claudia Roden, whose latest book, Med, was published in September to rapturous reviews. She told Jewish News that she was “completely surprised” when she received a letter about the award, adding: “I’m thrilled. It’s a big honour.”

Claudia Roden. Photo: Barbara Steinbauer-Gretsch

Martin Lewis, the founder of the website  whose personal philanthropy is set to benefit good causes to the tune of £20m; and novelist and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, the author of hugely popular children’s and young adult books, and TV series such as Foyle’s War.

Horowitz, a prolific author, told Jewish News that he was “gently climbing the ladder” of British honours, since five years ago he was made OBE for services to literature.

“I received a letter a couple of weeks ago, and was completely and pleasantly surprised”, he said. He has three books coming out in 2022, one of which will be a new Bond novel, the third in a series after the estate of Ian Fleming gave him permission to develop the iconic character.

Anthony Horowitz and Martin Lewis

Three communal figures have been honoured for their work with their local communities during Covid-19.

Rabbi Albert Chait of Leeds’ United Hebrew Congregation has been made MBE for his work with both Leeds and the wider West Yorkshire Jewish community.

Professing himself “absolutely blown away” by the honour, Rabbi Chait, whose late father Henry was rabbi in both Southport and Liverpool, said the honour was “most unexpected, but a big accolade to the whole Jewish community”.

The day after his synagogue closed its doors when the pandemic struck, Rabbi Chait got the UHC online. “We attracted thousands of people, not just in Leeds and West Yorkshire, but across the world. We showed that Orthodoxy can embrace the hybrid product of physical and virtual shul. I’m really grateful to the shul, which trusted me to do this”. One of his highlight moments, he said, was getting Leeds United FC to allow Chanukah lighting at Elland Road in December 2020. His work during the pandemic reached an even larger audience when it was highlighted by Facebook.

Rabbi Albert Chait

Joe Freedman, in Glasgow, and Zarah Ross, in Liverpool, have each been awarded the BEM for their hands-on work with their communities in the face of Covid. Freedman, together with Jewish Care’s Ethne Woldman, created “Pulling Together”, which organised young people to volunteer to bring food and sanitation supplies to older people who could not leave their homes during the first lockdown.

Zarah Ross

Freedman said the award “means fabulous recognition for the Glasgow Jewish community and what we did”. The organisation was currently “mothballed” but could easily be revived if necessary, he said.

Barnet United Synagogue member Natalie Shaw, of Borehamwood, was also made MBE “for services to Seafarers during the Covid-19 Pandemic”. She is the director of employment affairs, International Chamber of Shipping.

In Liverpool, Zarah Ross got in touch with synagogues across denominations and with welfare organisations, co-ordinating volunteers throughout the city. “The Orthodox synagogue has mainly older members, the Reform has mainly younger people, and each service offered two people to volunteer and distribute food and medicines where they were needed”.

Ross, a trained community and youth worker, is now working for Faiths4Change, aimed at helping different faith groups respond positively to climate change.

Henry Lewis

Also honoured with an MBE was Henry Lewis, aged 101 and a resident of Jewish Care’s Wolfson Assisted Living in Sandringham, Hertfordshire.

He received his award as honorary vice president of the Magic Circle, for his services to fundraising and charitable causes.

Ten people received awards for their work in Holocaust education, awareness and remembrance.

Topping the list was Frank Bright, of Ipswich, who was made MBE; while Freddy Berdach, Liselotte Bruml, Anne Marie Lever and Ivan Shaw (all of London) received the BEM, as did Bronia Snow of Esher, Harry Kessler of Southport, and Var Ashe Houston of Guildford. Agnes Kaposi, also of London received an MBE.

Harry Kessler, Agnes-Kaposi, Bronia-Snow and Freddy Berdach

Shaw said: “I am overwhelmed by the honour. It is the culmination of an English journey, which my parents in Auschwitz could not have imagined in their wildest dreams! The honour is recognition of the work being carried out by the Holocaust Educational Trust. This is more relevant than ever in today’s intolerant times. I am grateful to the Trust for giving me the opportunity to share my story.”

“I am overwhelmed by the honour. It is the culmination of an English journey, which my parents in Auschwitz could not have imagined in their wildest dreams! The honour is recognition of the work being carried out by the Holocaust Educational Trust. This is more relevant than ever in today’s intolerant times. I am grateful to the Trust for giving me the opportunity to share my story.”

Claire Waxman, London’s Victims’ Commissioner, received an OBE. She said: “I am honoured to have been awarded an OBE for my work and I am proud to be able to use my role to advocate for victims and champion their voices. It is a privilege to work alongside so many survivors who are committed to using their personal, often traumatic experiences to fight for positive change for others”.

She herself was subjected to a 12-year-long stalking campaign by an obsessed man; in 2011, she won a landmark case to overturn the decision not to prosecute her stalker”.

Claire Waxman
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