Essex communal heroes honoured by the Jewish News

By Manny Robinson

LOCAL Essex community workers have been singled out in a tribute to the over 80s who have helped shape the Jewish community. One hundred and twenty people were recognised in the tribute run by the Jewish News in conjunction with Jewish Care.

The list includes husband and wife Leon and Rita Newmark who are volunteers at the Redbridge Jewish Community Centre. For more than a decade, the pair have delivered Meals on Wheels to some of the most vulnerable people within the community.

Leon and Rita Newmark

Rita, 86, formerly volunteered in the Meals on Wheels office and won Jewish Care’s Unsung Hero award in 2012. Both are also heavily involved in Ilford Federation Synagogue, with Leon, 81, formerly serving as chairman for 11 years, and now is financial representative.

Nettie Keen, 86, has been a volunteer and fund-raiser for the Redbridge Jewish Community Centre for nearly half a century. She has volunteered there since 1972, and  where she is a day centre co-ordinator and hairdresser. Nettie, who lost her husband and then her son Saul when he was just 40, has raised more than £50,000 for RJCC and St Francis Hospice.

Nettie Keen

Sid Green, 89, founded the Chaps That Chat group at RJCC and has seen it grow to more than 80 members with regular meetings still taking place during the pandemic over Zoom. Sid also arranges trips for group members including a visit to the House of Commons. He also calls every member each month to check on their health.

Shaun Bailey with Chaps That Chat organiser, Sid Green. Picture: Ted Metzger

June Bradbury of East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue (ELELS) has done incredible work around inclusion. She co-founded the ELELS Shabbat Shelanu services – designed to be accessible and sensitive to a variety of needs – and helped to organise the first ever women-led service at ELELS to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

She was also praised by the paper for her incredible work during the pandemic, including helping to create a ‘Covid-19 Phone Tree’ to assist vulnerable members of the community.

June Bradbury

The list also included Holocaust survivor Ivor Perl, a former Redbridge resident, who has dedicated his life to educating the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust and the experiences he went through.

Ivor Perl

Born in Hungary, Ivor was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau at the age of 12, before being forcibly moved to Allach and Dachau concentration camps, where he was finally liberated by the Americans. Last year, he returned to Auschwitz for the first time with his daughter to join the March Of The Living. He returned to Auschwitz in 2015 to be a witness in the trial of Oskar Gronig the ‘bookkeeper to Auschwitz’. Ivor was awarded the British Empire Medal in the same year for services to Holocaust education.



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