Jul 2011 Journal

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AJR Centre to relocate

The AJR wishes to announce that the Paul Balint AJR Centre at Cleve Road, West Hampstead is to relocate to the Belsize Square Synagogue in January 2012. The move follows the decision of the AJR Charitable Trust to sell the premises at Cleve Road and to re-accommodate the three tenants who live in the purpose-built flats above the Centre.

As at Cleve Road, the AJR Centre at Belsize Square Synagogue will offer a wide range of activities for AJR members, including the Music and Movement, Keep Fit and Tai Chi classes, as well as a card club and an art class. Visitors to the Centre can also play bridge and chess and the Centre will arrange for the services of a chiropodist and a manicurist.

The Centre, which will open on Mondays and Thursdays, will continue to host the monthly Kindertransport and Luncheon Club gatherings, combining lunch with guest speakers and musical performances, and will arrange Chanukah parties and a Model Seder. The Centre will also continue to arrange for transportation for AJR members to and from the Synagogue.

As part of the decision to relocate the AJR Centre, AJR Meals-on-Wheels will be replaced by kosher Hermolis meals. Members will be able to order from an excellent, wide-ranging menu and the AJR will continue to deliver to the north west London area. Hermolis will also provide the non-meat catering for the Centre’s lunches at Belsize Square.

Inspirationally led by AJR President and former Honorary Treasurer Ludwig Spiro, the first steps to establish a centre began in 1984 with a wide consultation with AJR members about the need and desirability for a dedicated AJR Centre.

Having identified and bought the site at Cleve Road, thanks in part to a generous donation from the Paul Balint Charitable Trust, work to adapt the premises to the new requirements, including the creation of eight flats for AJR members, began in November 1985.

The Cleve Road Centre opened its doors to members for the first time in June 1987 (the official opening was on 15 September 1987) and, as visitors will testify, it has continuously provided a warm and friendly setting for Holocaust refugees and survivors to meet and socialise, enjoy entertainment and hear from guest speakers.

The relocation to Belsize Square Synagogue sees the Centre return to the place from which it briefly operated between January 1986 and April 1987. Our gratitude to the Synagogue at that time for hosting our Centre is matched by our appreciation for its accommodating our members’ needs today.

Announcing the move, AJR Chairman Andrew Kaufman said: ‘After almost a quarter of a century, it is with a heavy heart that we leave our wonderful home at Cleve Road, where our members enjoyed so many good times and built enduring friendships with each other and our dedicated staff. Through the extremely generous support of the Paul Balint Charitable Trust and the endeavours of Ludwig Spiro, we were able to create a bespoke atmosphere for AJR members that reflected the culture and heritage of the refugees. By moving to Belsize Square Synagogue, we will be able to preserve the unique refugee spirit and continue to offer our members their own distinctive setting and place to meet and enjoy each other’s company.’

Details of a farewell party at Cleve Road will be made in due course.

Michael Newman

previous article:From tiny acorns … The 70th anniversary of the AJR
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