World Jewish Relief (WJR) marked its 90th anniversary with a special annual dinner at the Roundhouse in Camden Town.
Celebrating its remarkable history and looking forward to their future, the event, produced by award-winning theatre director, film director and producer Nicholas Hytner, brought together more than 740 supporters, and was hosted by broadcasters and friends of the charity Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel.
Guests included Holocaust survivors whom World Jewish Relief helped rescue and bring to the UK in the 1930s and 40s, individuals and families the charity helped flee from war and persecution in Iran, Bosnia, and beyond, and descendants of the visionary men and women who founded their forerunner, the Central British Fund, in 1933.
Notable guests also included Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, German ambassador Miguel Berger, Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, Sir Clive Alderton, Principle Private Secretary to His Majesty The King and Queen Consort, David Baddiel, and actor Elliot Levey.
A documentary film presented by Sir Simon Schama took guests through World Jewish Relief’s 90-year history, from its founding to rescue Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe up to the present day, as the charity’s lifesaving and life-changing work reaches at-risk communities in 23 countries worldwide.
Schama quoted Chief Rabbi Mirvis, saying: “From 1933-2023 the same Jewish imperative has inspired generations of UK Jews to bring support where there is hostility, relief where there is pain and hope where there is despair”.
During the evening Sir Clive Alderton, principle private secretary to His Majesty The King, addressed guests and read out a personal message from His Majesty, who is World Jewish Relief’s royal patron. His Majesty sent his “warmest best wishes, and immense gratitude for all the critically important work that you are doing” and praised “The tremendous example set by the World Jewish Relief over the last 90 years” to those “both in the Jewish community and beyond”.
Chair Maurice Helfgott emphasised the speed and quality of their response, just two weeks ago, to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and thanked the community for their concern and generosity as WJR scales up its response to this emergency. He urged dinner guests to increase their gifts and generosity given the depth of need.
To date, the WJR Turkey-Syria appeal has raised £500,000 from 1,500 donors and is delivering further food, blankets and medical support to 12,000 people.
Underpinning the evening was Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, which this week marks its one-year anniversary. The crisis prompted WJR’s largest emergency response since the 1930s and 40s, with immense and unprecedented support from the Jewish community.
This Friday, on the anniversary of the invasion, they re-launch their campaign at www.charityextra.com/theyneedmore and all donations will be doubled.
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