UK Jews grieve for beloved philanthropist Lord Steinberg

UK Jews grieve for belov

lord steinberg 248 88 (photo credit: )
lord steinberg 248 88
(photo credit: )
The Jewish community is mourning the death of Lord Leonard Steinberg, a much loved leader and philanthropist who passed away last week. He was 73 years old. Conservative Party leader David Cameron has led the tributes to the life peer who died suddenly after travelling to London from his Manchester home to attend the House of Lords. "Leonard was a popular and active member of the House of Lords, and a good friend to the Conservative Party. He regularly offered me his sage advice and words of wisdom, which were always gratefully received. My thoughts and prayers - and the condolences of the whole party - go out to his family at this very difficult and sad time," Cameron said. Leading the Jewish community tributes, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said: "Lord Steinberg was a lovable, generous, warm-hearted and devoted member of the British Jewish community. Born in Belfast, he became a major figure in Manchester Jewry. He was also a philanthropist on a heroic scale, a supporter of countless educational and welfare causes in Britain and Israel. He worked hard for the wider society, for which he was honored with a peerage. He had a strong sense of duty. "He loved Judaism, Israel and the Jewish people, and many of his finest deeds were done quietly and modestly. He was supported in all he did by his wife, Beryl. We will miss his unmistakable Irish accent, his good nature and sense of humor. He was a fine man who did great good." In 2004, Steinberg was made a life peer and took his oath in the House of Lords wearing a kippa. In his maiden speech he said: "I was born a Jew in Belfast, became an Ulster Unionist, an ardent Zionist and a bookmaker. You can't have bigger disadvantages." He was born in Belfast in 1936. With the continuing troubles in Northern Ireland, he moved with his family to Manchester in 1977, believing he was a target for the IRA not because he was an Ulster Unionist but because he was a Jew. He once told Manchester's Jewish Telegraph newspaper that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was supplying arms to the IRA and had instructed the group to target Jews. He was shot five times on the doorstep of his house on February 23, 1977, by terrorists from the Provisional IRA. One bullet remained in his leg throughout his life. A hugely successful businessman, he was a committed philanthropist and active in the Jewish community. He was a former president of the Jewish Federation and the United Jewish Israel Appeal, vice president of the Conservative Friends of Israel and president of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel (NIFI). Steinberg was a staunch Zionist, donating and raising funds for a wealth of worthy causes in Israel. In his will, he wrote that he wanted to be buried in Israel, and he will be reburied in a private ceremony on the Mount of Olives next week. A number of institutions in Israel bear Steinberg's name - a kindergarten in Ashkelon, a medical center in Granot and a day center and synagogue in Shlomi. He helped raise funds for a new hesder yeshiva in Nahariya. At the time of his passing he was supporting the Hemed School, a part of the Merom Hagalil Educational Campus. Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: "Lord Steinberg never lost sight of his roots, both Jewish and Northern Irish, and he worked tirelessly for causes close to his heart for many years. His contribution to Northern Irish and Israeli dialogue, with the establishment of the NIFI, was just one such positive initiative which will continue to bear fruit in the future." "Lord Steinberg was a true example of a dedicated philanthropist. His commitment to and love for the people of Israel spanned decades. His involvement in UJIA has inspired many younger members of the community to get involved in giving both time and money to charitable causes. This will be his legacy. Lord Steinberg was the principal funder of the Hemed School in the Galil, sadly he will not see the school's completion but it will be named in his memory," said Douglas Krikler, UJIA chief executive. Joy Wolfe, co-president of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, said Steinberg's death has sent shockwaves through the community. Barbara Goldstone, president of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester, said Steinberg's attendance as a council delegate "gave us all the benefit of his erudition and wisdom. "In the Manchester and the wider community, Lord Steinberg was a wonderful example of a gentleman who unobtrusively did so much good for so many organizations. His work in promoting the Conservative Friends of Israel so successfully is well known. His generosity and kindness to many will never be forgotten. He will be sorely missed."