VOICE OF THE JN: A life dedicated to our community

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VOICE OF THE JN: A life dedicated to our community

This week's Jewish News editorial pays tribute to Leonie Lewis, a woman who had a "unique ability to spread kindness", following her sudden death last week.

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

If a person’s life is measured by the lives they touched, the positive impact they made and the respect they earned, then Leonie Lewis’s life was beyond measure.

Few have contributed so widely and with such dedication as the seemingly tireless woman who 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, not least, founder the Jewish Volunteering Network (JVN), where she remained a director for more than 30 years.

Rabbi Levin from Brondesbury Park chatting with Leonie Lewis at the Kilburn centre last May.

Leonie, of course, wore many more hats over the decades, reflected in the array of tributes that flooded in from across the Jewish world following her sudden death just before Shabbat last week.

On many occasions Leonie would phone or email this newspaper to rally staff to volunteer for one of her inspiring JVN ideas, aimed at the one thing she dedicated her life to: enhancing our community.

She also mentored other community role models, including Raymond Simonson and Rabbi Alexander Goldberg, who pay their own heartfelt tributes in this week’s newspaper.

After receiving her MBE in 2017, Leonie said: “It justifies all the hours and commitment I’ve spent at meetings and activities encouraging all who know me to engage and volunteer. It’s touching to know that in some small way I am making a difference.”

Leonie Lewis certainly made a difference – one that elevated the standing of our community and one that will benefit British Jews for decades to come.

Long life to her family.

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