Jul 2003 Journal

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AJR keeping 'on the move': Historic AGM at Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre

Andrew Kaufman, AJR Chairman, opened the 62nd Annual General Meeting of the Association of Jewish Refugees by commenting that the AJR was 'on the move in more ways than one!'

For the first AGM to be held outside London, Beth Shalom had been a natural choice, also enabling a national get-together of members. There were 18 regional groups in which many had rediscovered lost friends and made new ones, with another 10 or so groups planned for the coming year. 'Approximately 25% of members live outside the London area; it is therefore only right and proper that just once in a while we venture outside the confines of North West London," Andrew Kaufman observed. AJR's head offices were to move from their present location at Hampstead Gate to Jubilee House in Stanmore, close by Stanmore Station.

Head office was having its busiest year, especially the Social Work team which helped an increasing number of members living outside London, and a part-time social worker had been appointed for the Greater Manchester area. The Homecare Assistance Scheme allowed 100 members to stay in their own homes, with entry into residential homes increasingly seen as a last resort. Self Aid, truly a lifeline for the frail, also helped 200 members with grants and loans.

The AJR Day Centre, which continued to care in a very personal way, had seen a large increase in demand for meals-on-wheels, enabling members to enjoy Continental kosher food while remaining in their own homes. Without the AJR's loyal band of volunteers, much of this and other equally vital work would just not be possible. Two highly successful holidays were organised, one in Bournemouth and another in St Anne's, for Northern members. The AJR Journal had 'demonstrated once again its high journalistic qualities.' Refugee Voices, a major project begun earlier this year to record testimonies and funded by the AJR Charitable Trust, prioritises members at the Day Centre and in the regions.

The Chairman thanked the management trio of Carol Rossen, Gordon Greenfield and Ronald Channing for their hard work, Marcia Goodman, Head of Social Services, Sylvia Matus and Susie Kaufman at the Day Centre, all other members of AJR staff and volunteers for their loyalty, and the Management Committee for their support. He answered questions put by members present.

David Rothenberg, AJR Vice Chairman, described the unique co-ordinating function of the Umbrella Group of charities concerned with refugee welfare, including Agudas Israel, Jewish Care, World Jewish Relief, Slave Labour and the AJR. The Central Office for Holocaust Claims, run and funded under the group's aegis, had probably acquired greater knowledge of compensation and restitution matters than any other organisation in the UK, and was to be retained for at least a further year.

The sunshine and warmth of Beth Shalom's hospitality permeated the day's atmosphere for the 130 AJR members, who enjoyed the opportunity to talk to members from other parts of the country as well as to staff members. Marcia Goodman met individually with members seeking welfare advice.

Ludwig Spiro, nonagenarian Life President of the AJR, unveiled a plaque recording Beth Shalom's appreciation for its three-year partnership with the AJR to produce a highly-regarded website for the education of schoolchildren on the history of the Holocaust and its moral implications.
Ronald Channing

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