Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Arnie Davidson: Ester Adjuah

American singer and song-writer Arnie Davidson never met Ester but he heard about her some two years after her death. And it transpired that they had a mutual friend. Arnie has composed Ester Adjuah, which you can hear or download at http://www.arniedavidson.com/music-67.html

Sunday, December 07, 2008

'Project Ester': the dedication

Shabbat 20th December sees the fulfilment of a dream to honour the memory of Ester Gluck, who died in 2006.

The Minyan Hadash at New London Synagogue has commissioned a new bimah table cover, Torah mantle, Torah cloth and Ark curtain—and there will be a new bimah table, modelled on the one in the main synagogue. Rabbi Jeremy Gordon will lead the dedication at the end of the Shabbat morning service.

Textile artist Lana Young and carpenter Robert Mullen have generously donated their time, skill and creativity to fashion these very beautiful ritual objects. They will be used by the Minyan Hadash on Shabbat and festivals, and also by the congregation as a whole whenever services take place in the synagogue hall.

Along with other synagogues on that Shabbat—the day before Hanukah—New London Synagogue is focussing on human rights in the Jewish tradition. We are pleased and proud to welcome Eiri Ohtani, coordinator of ASAP (Asylum Support Appeals Project), who will give a short pre-lunch talk on the rights of people seeking asylum in Britain, a cause very dear to Ester’s heart.

Angela Gluck, Ester’s mother, says:
“This is a most fitting tribute to my dear daughter. New London Synagogue is the first and only synagogue that Ester joined in her own right, as a young woman, and the Minyan Hadash meant a lot to her. I am deeply moved that the synagogue is honouring her memory and I wish to respond to this honour: please join me—and those involved in the project—for lunch after the dedication and talk.”

If you would like to stay for lunch, it is necessary to book through the synagogue office on 020 7328 1026 or office@newlondon.org.uk. Please do so by Friday 12th December. There is no charge for lunch but you may wish to make a contribution to the charity that has been set up in Ester’s memory: The Separated Child Foundation www.separatedchild.org. You can donate online at http://www.justgiving.com/seperatedchildfoundation or send a cheque payable to ‘The Separated Child Foundation’ to the synagogue office.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Baruch Ben-David: awesome

Baruch is a volunteer at the London Detainee Support Group (LDSG). This was part of his talk at the Yom Limmud Written All Over Our History, in memory of Ester, 17 December 2007.

When Ester came along, it was an extension of mishpochah*. Ester was a very special light. She was one of those lights that I don't think is ever going to go out in this world. It's been such a touching privilege, as someone who worked right by Ester for so long, to hear that physically, emotionally and mentally her light has gone out to so many parts of the world. This I find awesome. Some people live in this world much longer and they don't have such an effect on so many lives for the good. There is an old song, "If I can help someone along life's way, my living has not been in vain". Ester helped more... and more... and more.

* family

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sarah Hodgson: conceived and realised


On Friday 4 July, Sarah and friends ran a live music evening in Finsbury Park, north London. Sarah writes:

We raised an incredible £900! It's going towards the weekly social evening at the Refugee Council for unaccompanied children and teenagers recently arrived to the UK. The Social was set up six years ago by the wonderful Caroline Watson. It started with a handful of young people and has grown to 100s coming each week. There’s a whole host of fun– table football, ping pong, music, dancing, photography, drawing, summer trips. It’s a place to make friends and start a new life in the UK. Currently, the majority of children are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea. For many the Social, Caroline and the team are a lifeline without which integration into UK life would be very tough.

The idea for Social4Social was conceived and realised two years ago by Ester Gluck, a volunteer at the Social. Friday was dedicated to Ester by way of continuing her hard work and determination to alleviate young people’s suffering. I think she would have been proud of the turnout.

The Separated Child Foundation, set up in memory of Ester, is receiving £100 from the money raised. For more information on this organisation and its important work, see http://www.separatedchild.org/

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Gillian Nissim: "Esterness"

We think of beautiful, warm, vivacious Ester so much. In fact, Ester is in my mind a lot. Ester has had such a positive impact on our lives – which we will always be thankful for. How could anyone forget all the nights we spent, the discussion and debates – and the laughter? I think of Ester’s warmth, wisdom, sense of fun and intelligence. She was so wonderful to be with. We knew Ester for only a relatively short time, but her face, her colourful being, her presence, her beautiful “Esterness” has left a wonderfully indelible mark.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ester, Muju UpSTARTS and The Separated Child Foundation

The Muju UpSTARTS event (see the posting on 2 March, below) resulted in an 11-minute film, produced by Jamie Cohen and Max Diamond of J-doc. It's been posted - in two parts - at www.myspace.com/jdocfilm. (Scroll down a fair bit and, on the way, pause the music that plays automatically if you want to hear the sound on the film! The second part is directly under the first.)

Muju has also posted on its website the podcast of the short interview given on the day by Angela Gluck - when the interviewer couldn't find the Chair of The Separated Child Foundation and had to make do with her! Angela was asked about Ester, the Muju Crew and The Separated Child Foundation. The interview lasts just over five minutes and is unedited so you hear her authentically umming and aahing a bit! You can go directly to it at http://www.muju.org.uk/popdcast/2.mp3 or visit http://www.muju.org.uk/ enter the site, click 'rewind' and then the podcast.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

'Jewish Way of Life' resource

"The Jewish Way of Life resource is dedicated to the memory of Ruth Winston Fox (1912 – 2007) and Ester Gluck (1982—2006) who in their lives and actions embodied the values of the Jewish Way of Life."
Through a partnership of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, ORT and The Pears Foundation, the 'Jewish Way of Life' CD-Rom has been created for pupils in British schools. It introduces Judaism to children and young people through films, music and a large number of varied activities. It was launched - in the presence of government ministers, Jewish communal leaders and representatives of other faiths - on 12 May 2008.

Linked to it is a website of information, advice and additional activities for teachers to use. Copies of the CD-Rom, which are free of charge, can be ordered through the website http://www.jwol.org.uk/

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stained glass window

Click on image to enlarge.

Friends have contributed to the creation of a beautiful stained glass window in memory of Ester. The windows at North Western (Alyth) Synagogue have been designed, constructed and installed by London-born Israeli artist Ardyn Halter to capture the spirit of the months of the Jewish year. The one dedicated to Ester is for the month of Tishri - the month in which she died - and is the first of the windows (that is, on the right).

There will be a simple dedication ceremony during the Shabbat morning service (which begins at 10.30) on Saturday 3 May 2008. If you would like more details, write to estermemories@hotmail.co.uk

Monday, March 03, 2008

'Project Ester' and a jewel in the crown

“Many of you knew Ester Gluck... Those of you who did not know her would have noticed her in shul—her long curly hair, her humungous platform shoes, her wicked smile and, of course, her beautiful voice which entranced us all when she leyned, davened, or simply joined in. Ester was an integral part of Minyan Hadash”—wrote Debbie Usiskin, coordinator of the Minyan Hadash at New London Synagogue and of 'Project Ester'.

‘Project Ester’ is a Minyan initiative—in Ester’s memory—to commission a Torah mantle and cover, an Ark curtain and a cloth for the ‘bimah’ table. Debbie Usiskin adds: “The design and development of these pieces will help to identify and consolidate our community.” Lana Young, an experienced textile artist—who knew Ester—accepted the commission and has already given generously of her time and ideas. Her early designs are very exciting. No prizes for guessing the colours!

Our task now is to raise the necessary funds… And Gina Sanders is first off the mark in organising a sale of hand-made jewellery (varying in style and price) and her original greetings cards made from her own beautiful photographic images. This sale will very appropriately take place on the Sunday evening before Purim - 16th March - 6.30-7.30 and 9.00-10.00. In between - at 7.30 - there will be a lecture by Rabbi Reuven Hammer entitled, "Was Esther written by a Jewish Jane Austen?"

So can you be a gem...
  • by coming along and buying jewellery or cards on 16th March?
  • by raising funds in your own way, perhaps with friends—such as through a sale or by a sponsored something-or-other?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Magical Muju Crew: The MUJU UpstARTS Festival

A group of young Jewish and Muslim artists are working together to create a day of art and culture to promote tolerance and understanding between faiths and to raise money for The Separated Foundation, established in memory of Ester Gluck.

Visit the website http://www.muju.org.uk/

“It’s really intended to demonstrate that, contrary to what the media would have us believe, when you throw Muslims and Jews together, they can be creative and not destructive.”
Warren Minde, co-organiser of The MUJU UpstARTS Festival

This event is inspired by the memory of Ester Gluck who was a member of the Muju Crew at the Tricycle Theatre and worked with people seeking asylum. All proceeds will go to a charity called THE SEPARATED CHILD FOUNDATION that has been set up in her name.

The charity supports refugee children who experience the double trauma of separation not only from their homeland, culture and natural environment but also from the adults in their family who gave them care.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?
A cacophany of collaboration between exciting young Jewish and Muslim artists, including a new play by the Muju Crew. There'll be music, films, comedy, performance poetry, mural-painting and more!

WHERE?
At The Tricycle Theatre, 269 High Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7JR
http://www.tricycle.co.uk/ 020 7328 1000

WHEN?
On Sunday 2nd March 2008, 1.00-8.00 pm

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tunnel Vision

A documentary film has been made by Yoav Segal about the Tricycle Theatre Jewish-Muslim Youth Theatre Group, which calls itself 'The Muju Crew'. The film, which lasts just over 11 minutes, partly focuses on Muju's first production Tunnel Vision. It has been dedicated to Ester's memory and was shown at "Ester's Walks of Life", 9 September 2007. You can watch the film at
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=15888805022&oid=6619278667

You need to login to, or sign up for, Facebook. You also have the chance to download the right flash player. There is no charge. Full credits for the film appear at the end.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Batsheva Schilis: under her wing

I want to let you know how deeply Ester touched my life in the brief time I knew her. I've never met anyone as caring and as genuinely kind as her. She took me under her wing and took the time to look after me when I was so far away from home.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Salusbury WORLD: extraordinariness

Sarah Reynolds (Manager: Salusbury WORLD) writes:

Ester made an enormous contribution to this charity: she was so committed and had a relentless energy and enthusiasm as well as a fantastic relationship with the children. We were all so shocked and upset to hear of her death last year; even now it is hard to take it in.

Reading the blog and attending her funeral, her extraordinariness became even more apparent. She was a remarkable, generous and principled human being who achieved more in her short life than most of us do in decades.

We just wanted to add our voices to the many offering their sympathy but also our gratitude for the tremendous amount that Ester gave to us and the children we work with.

From the Salusbury WORLD annual report, 2007:
This year’s Annual Report is dedicated to the memory of Ester Gluck, an incredibly enthusiastic and vibrant volunteer who not only had a genuine love for children but also real interest in refugee issues. Aside from the varied support she gave us at the After School & Holiday Club and other Salusbury WORLD events, Ester also gave much of her time to the Refugee Council, as well as pioneering a theatre project bringing together Jewish and Muslim artists in Kilburn. She was a truly unique and selfless individual who will be sorely missed and never forgotten.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lindsay: a wonderful vibe

I’ve missed Ester like crazy. She was someone you could connect with instantly, a deeply warm and beautiful person. We used to do yoga together and go to Bute Park in Cardiff, drinking fruit shakes, talking and planning about Ghana. When I finally went to Ghana, she was kind enough to meet me at the airport. A huge hearted soul, with a wonderful vibe, always patient. I am truly so sorry. I can’t believe she's gone.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Shirley Wilson: teacher/learner; learner/teacher

I was stressed having not taken an ‘away from it all holiday’, so found solace in countless visits to Homebase searching for feel-good plants. I overheard a voice in the crowd – Ester came to mind. It was Angela.

I waited in the car park. I didn’t want to alarm her, as she quickly got into her car, windows up. I had to knock on the window. She looked through the glass, a little alarmed, so I gestured ‘wind the window down.’

“It’s me, Shirley Wilson, Ester’s teacher” (as if I had been the only teacher she had ever had). “How is Ester?” I had last asked Robin that at a conference on Race and Equality at City Hall last year. Angela did not speak – for a long while. We were frozen in a moment in time. When Angela said, “You don’t know...?” I began to shudder.

My world stood still, as I began to remember Ester. Angela climbed out of the car and we hugged, as we remembered Ester.

I was traumatised – I chose not to cry, but went immediately to the website to discover what had become of Ester. I bawled all afternoon as I remembered Ester. Tears of joy I wept as I read the messages on the website, which showed that she had been true to herself.

Ester championed the cause.
Equality, Rights and Justice.
I remember Ester.
Pure Spirit.
Wise beyond her years.
Challenging me – questioning me, always wanting to know more.
“Miss Wilson ……….?”
“Miss Wilson, you know what you said about ………., well ……….”
And on and on and on.

I remember Ester
Because she made me the learner
As we reasoned, on life.

Who was this child?
And who was her mother?
(In fact, Ester challenged me all year.)
Class teacher and Humanities Co-ordinator for the school – History, Geography and RE.
Ester loved RE lessons – challenge, questions, discussions, views……….
As a 9/10 year old
Ester and I shared – teacher/learner; learner/teacher - the inhumanity
And inJustice
And inEquality
We shared the Respect
And Love
That is needed in the world.
I loved Ester Gluck – Pure Spirit.
I think on Ester and smile.
When I think of Ester, I remember Angela, her mother—the womb of that Pure Spirit, wise beyond her years.
I was privileged to know Ester.
Love you Ester.
(present tense)
You are ever present in my remembrance
... and you chose to wear the colour purple—the colour purple.
I had shared The Colour Purple with you.

God, Jah Rastafari, Conquering Lion Of Judah , Jehovah, Father, Yahweh, Brahman, Allah knows best.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bronya Gorney: swirl of softness and strength

Bronya's address during "Ester's Walks of Life" on 9 September 2007

I first met Ester when she applied to volunteer abroad in Africa and, from the start, Ester stood out from the crowd.

Ester had this wonderfully open sincerity and genuine concern for the world around her that, even from afar, one could see underpinned her choices in life. Ester was authentic.

During the preparation for her first trip to Ghana, Ester really got to grips with the complex issues involved. She had an acute sensitivity within her. Like an old fashioned radio that can pick up cries from far distant lands so too could Ester perceive need in places she’d never been. Ester was finely tuned into the world around her.

As a fellow volunteer, I always appreciated how utterly reliable Ester was and how keen she was to help out. She was always able to hone in on what needed to be done and then quietly just get on and do it brilliantly!

Her warm heart and sense of fun made working with her a good laugh, too. It was wonderful to have a friend who you could have a blast with one minute and a serious discussion with the next. I think that the groups that went to Ghana with her were very lucky indeed.

There are two things that really struck me about Ester more than anything else and I’d like to share them with you.

The first was her unique mix of gentle kindness with a strength of character and self-assurance, that somehow never detracted from her sympathetic touch. An amazing swirl of softness and strength.

The second thing that really struck me about Ester I first noticed on her return from her trip to Ghana, where Ester had acted as the group coordinator. Ester sat in a meeting, hair braided, eyes shining, with this fresh beauty, determinedly arguing her cause. And I saw her as a real leader, fighting for those causes she believed in. I saw her as that rare precious being, a strong female leader, a tribal princess, a princess of Judah.

How lucky were we to have such a beautiful, compassionate young woman representing us as Jews to the rest of the world. For me, Ester will always be a radiant soldier, a Purple Princess.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kwasi Joseph: tribute in Twi

Kwasi Joseph taught Twi to Adoaw Ester in person, on the phone and by letter. He has translated into English his own tribute to her in Twi.

TRIBUTE FROM JOSEPH,
FRIENDS AND FAMILIES AT GHANA
TRIBUTE IN LOCAL LANGUAGE (TWI)
Owuo, den nti na wo ye see? Wafa me dofo efr me nkyen. se nka etumi eka akyere owuuo se ofa medofo mere me. Nanso aka akyeri dodo. Onankopon na ema onoa na egye enti yen fa nnase mma no.

Oh! Adoaw, mante wo nne da kosi se wafi mu. Eye mme yaw pii se yen nkommobo no anka akyire. Nanso menim se senea ete biara ye behyiam bio na yea hye yen adamfofa no den. Eye woa adamfo Joseph a mefi Ghana ne ma abuafonyinaa.
DA YIE!!!!!!!

TRIBUTE IN ENGLISH
Death why do you have to do suuch a thing? By taken a loved one from me. I wish i could tell death to bring back the one i loved but it is too late. The lord gives and he has taken as Job said, May his name be praised.

Oh! Adoaw, I couldn't hear you till death has taken you away from us. Am very Sad and it painful that our conversation couldn't last. But i koow that we shall meet once again and continure our friendship. It your friend Joseph from Ghana and families wishing you.
FARWELL!!!!!!!

The Separated Child Foundation

Charity Commission for England and Wales registration number: 1120669
[The registration of the Foundation was announced during the “Ester’s Walks of Life” programme on 9 September 2007.]

The Separated Child Foundation has been established “in memory of Ester Gluck, a compassionate and creative young woman who was strongly committed to working for the benefit of refugees and people seeking asylum, and had a particularly deep concern for separated children and young people.” The Foundation seeks to extend and intensify her work.
By 'separated', The Separated Child Foundation refers to children and young people under the age of 21 who are refugees or seeking asylum and whose parents or guardians are not with them. Separated children experience the double trauma of separation not only from their homeland, culture and natural environment but also from the adults in their family who gave them care.
The Foundation has two objectives:
  • to offer emotional, social, financial and physical support to separated children and young people—either directly or indirectly through their carers
  • to engage in educational activities that raise awareness of the needs of separated children in particular, and of refugees and people seeking asylum in general—activities that encourage positive responses to those needs.

The Foundation will meet these objectives not only by generating its own projects but also by making grants to other bodies that are engaged in this field. The Trustees are considering a range of projects and ways of securing funds to initiate and implement them.

The Trustees are Mark Friend, Angela Gluck, Jonty Hurwitz, Michael Marx (Treasurer, 2007—) and Robin Richardson (Chair, 2007—). The Trust Secretary is Sarah Kleiman.

A sample of projects that the Trustees are considering:

ANNUAL GRANTS TO ‘THE ESTER CINEMA CLUB’
Ester Gluck raised funds for film and music equipment for use in the youth club run by the Refugee Council (at their national headquarters in south London); it has been named in her memory. It needs to renew its annual licence to show films and also needs blackout curtains so that films can be shown on light evenings.

A YOUTH CLUB IN NORTH LONDON
The youth club run by the Refugee Council in South London is the only one in the country for separated children. There is a need for a parallel club or other provision north of the Thames.

DAY TRIPS AND SHORT RESIDENTIAL HOLIDAYS

MATERIAL SUPPORT FOR NEW ARRIVALS AND THOSE AGED 16 LEAVING FOSTER CARE
This provision might include shoes or winter clothing, household items or educational materials.

SUPPORTED ACCOMMODATION FOR THOSE AGED 16-18
They are currently inappropriately housed in hostels or B&B where they may be physically and emotionally vulnerable.

‘MORE THAN A FRIEND’
This involves adults ‘adopting’ (in the style of an aunt, uncle or godparent) separated young people over the age of 16. A ‘more than a friend’ would offer friendship and invitations for meals and outings.

GIVING SEPARATED CHILDREN A VOICE
This entails recording the experiences of separated children based on their lives in their country of origin and in the UK. We hope that this will give separated children a stronger voice and that it will, over time, become a valuable record and educational tool. We will create a newsletter to enable separated children to communicate with each other.

*******

The website of The Separated Child Foundation is under construction and news of its completion will be posted here. Until then, please write to estermemories@hotmail.co.uk if you wish to:

  • be kept informed of the Foundation’s activities
  • make a donation to its work (this can be gift-aided for tax benefit)
  • initiate a fund-raising event
  • be involved in any of the Foundation’s activities

John Robinson: the force of her love

During the "Ester's Walks of Life" programme on 9 September 2007, John spoke about Ester before reading Patrick Kavanagh's poem In memory of my mother.

One of the last times I met Ester was on a beautiful hot summer's evening. We went to Golder's Green and spent several happy hours smoking Nirgila, drinking mint tea, talking, eyeing people up and generally putting the world to rights. I remember it as a gloriously happy evening, one in which we tasted the goodness of life together. I still return within myself to this memory periodically when I want to refresh my spirit and it seems to me that I am still warming myself at the fire that burned so brightly and beautifully within Ester, even from beyond the grave. I also knew Ester in the context of the painstaking and often difficult context of interfaith dialogue and reflecting on this several things stand out. Firstly, that amazing smile of hers which would light up her own features and had a way of spreading to the faces of others so that it seemed as if the whole room would light up. Secondly, her ability to dance all night, and I mean all night, to the greatest hits of Nina Simone, another occasion which will remain forever etched on my memory. Yet perhaps most of all there was the incredible warmth with which she could envelope people and issues so that it seemed that not even that which was most implacably frozen could stay in that state, but ultimately had to yield to the force of her love. The poem I am about to read was written by Patrick Kavanagh for his mother; I read it now for Ester:

Patrick Kavanagh: In memory of my mother

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily

Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday—
You meet me and you say:
'Don't forget to see about the cattle—'
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.

And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life—
And I see us meeting at the end of a town

On a fair day by accident, after
The bargains are all made and we can walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.

O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us—eternally.

Monday, September 24, 2007

LDSG annual report: a true and compassionate fighter

Caroline White, Chair of the London Detainee Support Group, ends the 2006/07 report by referring to:

"... the sudden and tragic death of a great favourite of staff, volunteers and detainees, Ester Gluck. Her family attended a memorial gathering we organized to celebrate her life and to remember Ester as we all knew her — a true and compassionate fighter for those whose lives are much less comfortable than our own."

Ester Gluck, 1982-2006
The sudden and untimely death in September 2006 of our colleague Ester Gluck was a great shock to all who knew her. Ester was heavily involved with LDSG for over two years as a volunteer and staff member.

She began to volunteer with LDSG in Autumn 2004, working one day per week in the office and visiting a detainee another day. As office volunteer, she covered the detainee freephone, and invariably dominated one end of our cramped and somewhat chaotic former offices on Holloway Road. From the start, she regularly had to be cajoled into finishing a telephone conversation with a detainee as we tried to close the office at the end of the day. She had an uncanny ear to be able to communicate with every client in exactly their own register, and visited many of our most lost and disorientated clients.

In her ten months as a staff member, Ester extended her formidable skills to supporting volunteers. She was as endlessly patient and supportive of all the volunteers she supervised, as she was furiously intolerant of hypocrisy wherever she encountered it.

Ester was an extraordinary human being. Her irresistible passion and commitment, and truly exceptional ability to communicate with even the most distressed and damaged clients, influenced all she worked with. The depth of feeling throughout the organisation was clear at the memorial event we organised, which was attended by members of Ester’s family, and from the many tributes from volunteers and clients. She is greatly missed.

Aisha Phoenix: The Purple Princess at Parly

During "Ester's Walks of Life", 9 September 2007, a film of Ester singing Ebony and Ivory was shown. Then Aisha introduced and read her poem Irresistible Smile, which refers to Ester singing Ebony and Ivory (see Aisha's post below, dated 20 April 2007).

The Purple Princess at Parly

I started at Parliament Hill Girls in Year 8 just before Ester joined. We were both placed in Ms Youlton's form group. Ester with her strong convictions, great sense of humour and passion for acting and singing, fitted in easily and was welcomed into the creative "in" crowd. Her talents meant the Purple Princess often performed at school events ranging from plays, musicals and choir evenings to orchestra concerts. I remember acting in the Jean Anouilh version of the play Antigone in summer 1995 alongside Ester *. I can hear her laughter during orchestra practice, oboe on her lap, as I sat with my squeaky violin and I also hear her voice standing out in choir practice. But most of all I see the twinkle in her eyes and her smile all around.

* Aisha has found a ticket, saying it was at 7 pm on Thursday 29 June 1995 in the New Hall. £1 adults, £0.50 children.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Natalie Marx: my hair-braided purple sister

During the 'Ester's Walks of Life' programme on 9 September 2007, Natalie spoke about Ester before introducing and reading the poem by Ama Ata Aidoo (see post below).

Estie, you made me smile ALL the time.
You laughed with me and made me laugh.
You cried with me and cried for me.
You gave me little gifts to tell me you were thinking of me.
You listened first and then you shared.
You gave advice and helped me make decisions.
You understood me, even when I didn’t understand myself.
You encouraged me and gave me strength.
You loved me and always made sure I knew.
You helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be.
You held my hand so I knew you were there.
You taught me what it means to be a friend and you taught me what it feels like to have a best friend.


As Ester and I had officially proclaimed our ‘sisterhood’ status in Ghana, we deemed it only natural that we should inherit our own surrogate Ghanaian mother. Now being sisters with remarkably good taste – particularly when it comes to selecting members of our family – we prided ourselves (and Angela, of course) on tracking down Ghana’s award winning author, playwright and women’s activist…Ama Ata Aidoo.

Through an extraordinary sequence of events, Angela had graced us with the contact details for Ama Ata Aidoo and prior to our arrival in Ghana Ester had in fact already begun reading a selection of Ama Ata’s short stories…and in no time had become a fan. She had caught the Ama Ata bug.

Ama Ata was born in 1942 in the Fante region of Ghana and grew up in a Fante royal household. Ama Ata’s works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views. Many of her protagonists are women who defy the stereotypical women’s role of their time. She is also an accomplished poet and has written several children’s books.

Aside from her literary career, Ama Ata was appointed the Minister of Education in Ghana around the time that Ester was born. She resigned after 18 months and has since spent a great deal of time teaching abroad as a visiting professor in the African Studies Department at Brown University in the United States.

So I think that Estie and I had selected one of, if not THE, most inspiring beautiful Ghanaian mothers…



Ester’s relationship with Ama Ata blossomed as they would sit for hours upon hours discussing and debating, amongst other things, the wonders of which of their nation’s roots had the prior claim to the original sounds of Hebrew.

The poem I am about to read to you was written just weeks ago by Ama Ata , especially for Ester. It is a poem that encapsulates my hair braided purple sister…

Ama Ata Aidoo: A Note from Ghana

Ama Ata Aidoo wrote this poem for "Ester's Walks of Life": it was introduced and read by Natalie Marx (see post above).

A NOTE FROM GHANA

Dear Ester,

You
Hair-braiding
Doek-wearing girl-Brit:
You burst upon us
With dancing eyes, and
The most wondrous spirit…
…Ever.

Clambering up and down
Ancient kombis, 207s, and
Sundry other rickety, rusty, and risible
Moving machines of
Doubtful even-these-roads’-worthiness,
beating market mothers at their game.

You stride through our
Mini jungles and maxi environmental challenges
With the ease of
Not just another native, but a never-left.

Or at the very least, like any returnee, with
Affections to restore,
Rights to claim,
Structures to repair.

Very Dear Ester,

We are greatly amazed by just how much
You remind us of the
Working conquering queens
We have known:

Ask London about Yaa Asantewa, and
Lisbon, of Nzingha.

But talking of markets,
What was it with you and me and
Makola:
Our vast, long-suffering
City centre choked full of chaos, commerce?
And… and…
Makolet?

Then there were those
Good-natured but endless
Questions,
Philosophically exciting,
Intellectually intriguing, on
Which of our nation’s ethnicities are
The true bearers of Hebraic matrilineal retentions?

Akan overlords who, in reality,
Can only rule if sanctioned by the female line, or
The Gas with their latter-day patriarchies and
Ancient subsumed theocracy?

Your royal highness,
The great debates you initiated on our shores
Are not about to end just yet.
And we are not even sorry.

Oh, see how you trail your queenly umbilicus from the womb
—needing not a second of
Princess-hood…

You Ester,
Are nobody’s candle in the wind.

A bird? Perhaps.
Some wildly joyous morning thriller
With the lightest wings of the longest span,
gloriously hued:
Ochre, silver, and glowing indigo,

Who swept through our universe, and
Brushed lightly past us as she flew…

Adjoa Ester,
It is true
You are not here.

But Child, you are hardly gone.


Ama Ata Aidoo
Accra, Ghana
August 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Robin Richardson: Words for Ester

Spoken at "Ester's Walks of Life", 9 September 2007

Tributes, memories, messages and pledges from her friends

All the words here are direct quotations from reflections written over the last year, and published on The Purple Princess website. Most of the authors are present here this afternoon. Those who are not physically present are no doubt with us in spirit.

Hey, cheeky, cheerful, chirpy, quirky, quick, flirty, worky, shirty, shapely, shining, dining, divining one. I am missing looking forward to seeing you.

Deeply passionate, deeply spiritual, open and accepting … a ball of vibrant electric inspiring energy …shining and twinkling, smiling and happy, face glowing, wisdom flowing, words knowing … a flash of purple brilliance… wisdom, wit and a wonderful view of the world … a perfect role model of what humankind should be like … inspired by everyone and thus she was an inspiration… my greatest critical friend, the greatest I could ever hope for… I learnt so much about myself from the person you were and the things you showed me… You dazzled me, warmed me, pumped purple fire through me … You helped transform so many of our experiences… You have scattered your purple and golden glitter dust over all of us.

‘Est is best’ … ‘impressed by Est’… ‘my North, my South, my East, my West’… ‘Est, well dressed’.

You named us, you knew us, you helped us know ourselves.

And we will remember where you chose to shine your light.

Dislocation and wandering are great blessings; they are also heavy loads. Those who can walk lightly carrying such weight deserve the highest praise.

She connected to people who had been cast-off by society, the powerless, the ignored, and she would meet them heart-to-heart.

I’m not sure that anyone could ever really say no to her once she got going.

Can’t just wasn’t a word in her vocabulary.

Small, even in big boots, but she carried many people.

An extraordinary talent for listening. Her rants were legendary, but when speaking to someone who was weak or suffering, her patience was without limits. She had a way of listening that made people feel understood and forgiven and accepted entirely.

Any time she spoke to me I feel like I have seen all my scattered family back home and feel so happy.

In dialogue, she always knew how to hear the other, and how to make herself heard, in a language the other could absorb.

She knew how to stand in difficult places. She had the empathy, the gentleness, the intelligence, the kindness, and the bravery.

‘There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for mankind.’

Let us endorse her life by being more kind, more compassionate, more patient, more loving, more gentle, more playful, more proactive.

And we will remember: ‘When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not ill treat that stranger. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love that stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt.’

‘My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.’

When ‘Perfect Harmony’ cut through the quiet room at your Batmitzvah your smile shone above rapturous applause. Without even closing my eyes I see that same smile.

And we will remember: ‘You are not free to complete the task but neither are you free to refrain from it.’

There is a voice that is missing now and we must struggle to hear it. For our own sakes, it is important that we continue to listen to Ester, to remember never to become complacent. In this way, the beauty of Ester’s singing and the strength and power of her voice can continue to act as an inspiration and a guide to us.

Bye Esty, I am less without you, and the world is so much poorer without you, so we will all have to love the world, and each other, that little bit more, to make up for it.

As the budding spring flowers crown Nature with Life, you remind us to “Choose Life”.
And so we will.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rabbi Jeremy Gordon: selective memory

Rabbi Jeremy's eulogy at Ester's stone-setting ceremony on 9 September 2007

My memories of Ester don’t behave themselves.

In preparation for this address I went to Ester’s blog.
It’s an incredible collection of memories, poems, drawings, letters, sermons even. I know many of us gathered here today have posted on it.

I went to the blog with the intention of printing the whole thing up and dramatically unfurling it today, before us all.
I went to the blog, selected all and pressed print.
And 63 pages in, my printer gave up and became capable only of producing a stream of numbers,
6838723723
line after line and page after page of incomprehensible babble until I managed to get it to stop.

My memories of Ester don’t behave themselves and, for me, they have this strange tendency to collapse into a stream of babble, devoid of meaning, or at the very least meaningful only in a way beyond any human comprehension.

Perhaps the problem is the sheer impossibility of a life so short, being so full.
‘Ester, you changed my life,’ opens one blog posting.
There are tributes from many involved in the important work of the London Detainee Support Group applauding Ester’s incredible gifts and commitment as a visitor to asylum detainees and as a supporter of other visitors.
There are postings from detainees from Harmondsworth. Who’s visiting them now?
There is a posting about the Ester Film Club, set up to show films to unaccompanied refugee children. The equipment and funds for the Club were raised at an evening Ester organised and led.
There is a posting about Ester’s work in Ghana, for Tzedek.
There is announcement of a day of learning on refugees, in Ester’s memory.
There’s a mention that a seat at the Tricycle Theatre, where Ester performed with the Jewish & Muslim Youth Theatre Group, has been named in her memory.
An announcement that a Torah mantle and ark cover are to be commissioned in her honour for her prayer community, the Minyan Hadash at New London Synagogue.
Rabbis riff off various Biblical verses: You Shall Be Holy, for I God and Holy. You Shall Not Wrong The Stranger, For You Were Strangers in the land of Egypt. Act Justly And Love Mercy.
There are postings from Imams, from Christians, from people of all religions, and none.
There are postings from old friends, ‘I first met Ester when she was Angela’s bump.’
And postings from those who met Ester only once, and still she made an impact most would struggle to match in a lifelong friendship.
There are postings about her empathy, her generosity, her dancing, her powers of debate, her encouragement of so many.
There are postings about purple, about Barbie dolls and Picasso, Ivor the Engine, and immigration minister Tony McNulty, and Kylie Minogue and learning Twi, and leyning and …

And the printer gives up and spews out only a stream of numbers
6838723
Maybe that’s the problem, for my printer and I.
Maybe the problem is that Ester just crammed too much life into her 24 years to be held even on a blog.
But in honesty, I think there is a different problem.

Another problem that blows out my printer and my heart when I think of Ester.
The problem of the sheer horridness of it all.
There have been many ways, many days, this past year, when Ester’s memory has come to mind, motivated me and my work, but sometimes it all just brings me to a juddering halt.
And I am visitor to this grief.
There are so many more of you here who knew Ester far better than I, so many of you here for whom the terrible loss of Ester, that horrid night last year, is far, far more constant.
And these memories have the power to render everything meaningless
6838723723
Or if not meaningless then meaningful only in ways beyond human ken.

Angela, your extraordinary strength, today and every day this past year is beyond my ability to know.
Your commitment not to give up.
Your commitment to a day of learning on refugees, in memory of Ester.
Your commitment to your surrogate family of conversion candidates and wanderers at New London Synagogue and so many other places.
This commitment is almost unfathomable and a huge testament to everything that Ester stood for.
It’s very special to see so many of those who you, Angela, have touched this year, here to commemorate and mark this day with you.
I don’t know how you do it.
For to dwell too long on the memories of Ester threatens to overwhelm us all.
6838723723

My memories of Ester don’t behave themselves.
But then, I am not sure they should.
I don’t really believe in accurate memory.

In just a few days the Jews among us will mark a festival known best as Rosh Hashanah.
But the festival has other names. The Rabbis call this Festival – Yom Hazikaron, the day of memory.
And at the heart of our prayers on this day we sing of God’s memory
Ki zocher kol hanishkachot atah – For You Remember All that is Forgotten.
That’s God for you.
Atah zocher masei olam ufoked kol ytzurey kedem – You Remember Every Action of the World, Every Inclination from the most ancient of days.
What mortal could remember everything?

The great writer Jorge Louis Borges has a tale about a human who remembered everything, who forgot nothing.
Funes the Memorious who gained his most prodigious memory as a result of riding accident.
‘While, at one glance,’ Borges says, ‘we can perceive three glasses on a table, Funes, all the leaves and tendrils and fruit that make up a grape vine. He knew by heart the forms of the southern clouds at dawn on 30 April 1882 and could compare them in his memory with the mottled streaks on a book in Spanish binding he had seen only once, and with the outlines of the foam raised by an oar in the Rio Negro the night before [some long forgotten] uprising… It was very difficult for [Funes] to sleep’ Borges tells us ‘lying on his back on his cot in the shadows he could imagine every crevice and every moulding… In the teeming world of Funes there were only details, all most immediate in their presence.’
Funes is paralysed, paralysed by his accident, but also, surely, paralysed by his memory.
Borges has his most memorable invention die of congestion.
Too much memory, too much accuracy can drown
6838723723

Maybe this is the biggest danger of what we do here today.
Maybe we are in danger of drowning in too much accurate memory.
Too much accurate memory can paralyse us and stop us from living out the lessons of personal engagement, empathy and kindness, the lessons that are the true charges of Ester’s life.

I don’t really believe in accurate memory.
I’m not sure Jews are supposed to.
In that part of the section of the Rosh Hashanah service when we sing of God’s memory we recite a verse from Jeremiah.
And God said, ‘I [God] remember the kindness of your youth, the love of your days of courtship, how you [the children of Israel] followed me into the wilderness, to a land unsown.

It’s nonsense, of course.
Or at the very least it’s a desperately selective way of telling the story of the wandering of the Children of Israel in the wilderness.
The accurate version of events would recall a lot of complaining, whinging, idol building and rebellions.
But somehow in the five hundred years, or so, between the Exodus with its whinging and grumbling, and the time of Jeremiah, all the failings, all the moments of darkness have faded.
And we are left with beautiful memories, hesed neuriach – the kindness of your youth ahavat kalulotaiyich the love of your days of courtship.

This is my kind of memory.
Selective.
Losing particularly some of the pain and the darkness.
Losing the memories that are too much to hold.
Losing the memories that paralyse.
Remembering the moments of triumph, delight, love.
The memories that can motivate me today and into the future.
Ester’s joy, her tremendous successes, all the lives she touched, changed for the better.
The way Ester would look at me and make me want to do better, be better, a better citizen of the world, a better Jew, a better person.
I can live forward with these selective memories.

These are the memories to carve in stone.
These are the memories we should pledge ourselves to hold dear.
For today and for our future commemorations and celebrations of one extraordinary life.

And the other memories.
The memories that crash my printer and result in a stream of meaninglessness.
I hereby let them go.
God – zocher kol hanishcachot – you can have them.
I, instead, commit myself, for the year ahead, and whatever gift of life I am to be blessed with,
I commit myself to selective memory.
Provocative, inspiring, life-bettering memories indeed, but selective memories nonetheless.

And may these memories,
Ester Bracha bat Moreinu Harav Tzvi Hirsh v’Elkah,
Ester Adjuah Elizabeth Gluck,
May these memories always be a blessing!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Debbie Bogard: transcending

I knew Ester what now feels like many years ago, when we were both involved with the Synagogue youth group. I was a few years older than Ester and when you’re younger, age always seems to be more important, more relevant somehow. It was obvious that Ester was never going to be tied down to such a pointless convention. Not that she even had to do anything, she just happened to be transcending age simply through being herself, radiating wisdom and intelligence and beauty.

Many years later, I was delighted to bump into Ester when she was working in the Salusbury deli. I went there a lot that year and would sometimes see Ester and Angela. Despite those years in between, those meetings felt genuinely meaningful, connecting in the present with a strong sense of a shared past.

I was devastated to learn of Ester’s death and, in Rabbi Gordon’s words, feel impoverished at the loss. I was honoured to attend Ester’s stone setting yesterday and gratified to be able to learn more about Ester’s life and her exceptional achievements. I know that she will serve as an inspiration to me in how to live a good and righteous life.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Joe Landson: Daydream in Color

Every time I wonder if I'm really helping anyone, I daydream about the Nina Simone Brigades.

Like all shadowy social justice groups, they have a fearless and beautiful leader: a young English Jewess in combat boots.

In the gray dawn, they ambush the venal and pompous with rainbow paint guns, darning them to eternal coloration.

At yellow midday, they guide refugees to shelter, shedding noontime on their plight.

On orange afternoons, they comfort friends with timeless wisdom, fresh fruit from an ancient tree.

Come reddening dusk, they sing and dance in sad ecstasy.

By inky midnight, they have parachuted elsewhere, and only our pale purple prose recalls them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Matthew Thompson: outrun and extend

Ester obviously had the gift for uniting diverse people, building real trust and friendship in situations where others dare not tread. This takes vision and courage and a willingness to sacrifice egos, yet never at the expense of integrity. Above all, such vital work requires a warmth and openness of heart, which, in turn, makes a person so loveable and at the same time so vulnerable. Ester’s reach and vision extended from and to the very depths of the human heart, where great blessing is sure to be found and where (contrary to appearances) it will always be beyond whatever depth troubles and doubts may reach.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Clare Carter: changed my life

Ester... you changed my life...

To be honest, compared to so many people I hardly knew you - but in the short time I knew you - you showed me so much...

I learnt so much about myself from the person you were and the things you showed me.

I wish I could be at your stone-setting to show you how much you did for me.

I think about you so very much...

Thank you for everything!

Your light will never fade away!!!

Love always
Clare
xxx

(Ester was my mentor at LDSG)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Matthew Thompson: light

Ester was a light to lighten the Gentiles. No earthly darkness or doubt can ever truly extinguish such light.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stone Setting

The stone for Ester's grave will be set at 2:30 pm on Sunday 9th September 2007. Afterwards refreshments will be served nearby and then there will be a gathering of “Ester's Walks of Life" organised by her friends: memories and reflections, as well as pieces of music and film in which Ester features.

If you would like to attend, please write to
ESTERMEMORIES@HOTMAIL.CO.UK

As part of "Ester's Walks of Life", we would like to draw together the Ester sayings and phrases that you remember her by, that to you symbolise her or that just sum up her essence for you: perhaps a joke, a sign off or a witty cynicism. We will do our best to weave these through our celebration of Ester's life, bringing more parts of the special woman we loved to be with us, in all her various purple ways.

You can send them to
ESTERMEMORIES@HOTMAIL.CO.UK

Monday, July 09, 2007

Philip Cheung: Daughter of Zion

~~ Daughter of Zion ~~

Hark, Ester, white lily of the desert,
this is the voice of my heart—

As the cold wind and red dust whips across
the long path of your mystical journey,
You still walked on
without a pause!

As the damp fog and lonely mist danced together
to blur the vision of the world,
You still saw clearly
via the window of your soul!

As modern men and women swim aimlessly in
the lakes of pleasure and champagne,
You kept the mitzvah
with devotional faith!

As sages and scholars search diligently for
the Eternal Light of the Tanakh,
You delight in the Truth
of every Holy Word!

Hark, Ester, fragrant rose of Israel,
this is the voice of my heart—

As the Hokmah of Shekhina guides your thoughts,
I feel Her full force!

As the Holiness of Hakadosh adorns your words,
I hear them in awe!

As the Faithfulness of El-Berit keeps your deeds,
I see a true Daughter of Zion!

As the Harp of David instils your songs,
I hear you singing the Psalms!

Hark, Ester, magenta zinnia to your friends,
this is the voice of my heart—

As the zenith summer sun
brightens up the days,
Your smiles brighten up our lives!

As beautiful autumn leaves
paint the woods red and orange,
Your colourful character burnishes the Earth!

As the virgin winter snow
brings with it the Hannukah,
Your light bids goodbye to darkness, my old friend!

As the budding spring flowers
crown Nature with Life,
You remind us to “Choose Life!”
(And so we will!)

(A poem by “Purple Iron” in fond memory of the “Purple Princess”, Summer, 2007).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finchley Reform Synagogue Teenagers: clearly

Ester was a wonderful teacher on our Amsterdam trip and we all really enjoyed getting to know her. She clearly was a very special person and we really regret that we won’t be going on any more trips with her.

How special she was and how much we will miss her!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Tricycle seat

The Tricycle Theatre was an important part of Ester’s life. She loved drama in every form and having probably the best little theatre in London only a short walk from home was a great gift. From her very earliest years, she enjoyed shows and workshops for children and, later, performances for adult audiences. Much of her thinking about the world was shaped and coloured by watching and reflecting on plays related to Black, Irish and Jewish experiences.

As a Sixth Former, Ester joined the Tricycle Theatre youth drama workshop that performed its own production at the ICA (Institute for Contemporary Arts) in London.

She was a founding and stalwart member of the Tricycle Theatre Jewish and Muslim Youth Theatre—affectionately known as the ‘Muju’ group—established in September 2004. She played her part in its first creation, Tunnel Vision, which was performed twice at the Tricycle and also at other venues. In 2006, a decision was taken to create a DVD about the group and Tunnel Vision for educational distribution: Ester was filmed in workshops, rehearsal and a social event, and was interviewed about the process of play-making and her experience of the ‘Muju’ group. She died a few days later.

A seat at The Tricycle Theatre has been named:
In memory of Ester Gluck, 1982—2006

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rabbi Jeremy Gordon: carrying heavy loads lightly

Our identity is formed in wandering and in dislocation. Even before Egypt and the oft repeated Biblical instruction to do right by the stranger because ‘you were strangers in the land of Egypt,’ even before the centuries of exile and displacement, we were a dislocated people.

Dislocation imbues a creativity, a sharpness of vision that comes from living a life less-normal. In particular dislocation changes the way a person relates to values. A wanderer doesn’t set great store by bricks and mortar. Rather splendour can be gauged by measure of hospitality offered; any simple act of kindness will do.

Moreover the stranger, by their very nature, needles the societies they appear in. The wanderer is a walking provocation to the status quo. Our very existence presents a novel experience for the societies around is, something new needs to be countenanced. We, us wanderers, push our face—pink, or black, or shrouded in a veil, or wreathed in a turban—up against the window and ask questions about toleration, pluralism and possibility. These are deeply valuable questions; they offer a measure of societal decency. And they are questions that can only be asked in the presence of one who is different.

Dislocation and wandering are great blessings, they are also heavy loads. Those who can walk lightly carrying such weight deserve the highest praise. And Ester was such a person.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Eiri: truly special

Only the very tough and the determined can continue to visit those in the detention centres dumped near Heathrow Airport. And Ester was one of them. Everyone starts visiting with a good intention—some half-baked, others carved in their hearts. However many get defeated after a while, after one too many visit to the forbidding looking detention centre. Or another unannounced transfer. Or another removal. Or another assault. It is a soul-destroying journey to get there, a long ride on the tube, then a tiny local bus, then a miserable 10-minute walk by the motorway. The centre stands there, unmarked, despite what might be going on inside. There is no sign. The only sign that something is amiss is the strange gateway next to the building which is always closed and the security cameras everywhere. But you were strong, Ester, and kept going inside that building. Ester was a true exception to all the rules (including her boots and hair) and had the strongest of conviction that those in detention needed to be heard. And she did indeed hear the screams and prayers of detainees that even those of us who have been “professionally” trained to be a good listener couldn’t pick up. Her listening skill was special but I wonder if people understand what I mean by “special”. It was supernaturally good—does this make sense now? And, Ester, you could smell the dishonesty, pretensions and shallowness miles away, at a first glance, on the phone, on paper, face-to-face. I know you could just tell. And that’s why you were one of us, a bunch of opinionated agitators. Is everyone working in this asylum charity sector genuinely selfless? Does everyone have that depth of heart and humbleness Ester had? Not really. And that’s why we all loved you dearly. You were, after all, as Sabri the writer so aptly put it over our cheap curry, the conscience of LDSG. We felt that we could go on because you were there. I still find it difficult to believe that I won’t see you again. Or that I won’t hear you say like an innocent child, “Purple is my favourite colour” again. Sometimes I feel angry that the rest of the world seems to be unaware that this tremendous loss to humanity has occurred. People hear about it and say “oh how sad” but that’s not enough for me. But given that you were never troubled with things like what I normally call a false sense of self-grandeur, you would probably vehemently argue that you were not all that special. It didn’t go well with your sense of equality, did it? But you were truly special. And your absence seems particularly unfair. Jerome has always said that he had a perfect team, you, Sabri, Aoife and all the committed volunteers, and I had to agree that there was a perfect team. And it is very rare for Jerome or I to say that something is perfect, and you know that. Now we are trying to find a way to be perfect again and we miss you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rabbi Willy Wolff: heart, soul and might

One commandment in the Torah seems uncannily to have been almost written with Ester in mind. For she observed it bechol levavah, with all her great heart, oovechol nufshah, with all her rich soul, oovechol me’odah, and with all her considerable might. It is to be found in the 33rd and 34th verses of the 19th chapter of the Book of Vayikra, Leviticus. And it commands: “When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not ill treat that stranger. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love that stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Eternal Your God.” On which Rashi comments in three words: “Elloheycha Ve’Ellohav Anni—I am Your God and his God.”

Ester in her adult life gave the most concrete, human-contact form to the commandment to love the stranger. With that she blessed our needy society so abundantly. And so can we bless this society for every moment that we follow her example.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Syed: ‘My Guru’

'My Guru'

Ester was my teacher. My first visit to the detention centre was in her company. She treated me like a mother would train a toddler to walk. She told me where to get off the bus. But later I found out that if she got off one stop after, she would have to walk less and not have to cross roads. I wanted to tell her but alas now I cannot.

She was also teaching me the use of database. If I was good at something, she would say “Brilliant!" I was pushed to my primary school days. She was equally good at chiding on your mistakes.

She was very soft-spoken and sympathetic. She appealed to the core of your psyche. She was loved and adored by all the detainees.

One of the detainees called the office. He was a Muslim from one of the African countries and said, “She died in the month of Ramadhan. She will go to heaven straight. No questions about that.” No comments!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rabbi Helen Freeman: a particular gift

“And a stranger shall you not wrong, neither shall you oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

This commandment is particularly close to my heart because my father came here as a stranger at the age of 12, frightened and vulnerable as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. Not only that, but this portion was my Bat Mitzvah and so I spent a great deal of time studying it.

Imagine my surprise then to team teach with a young woman called Ester Gluck, then still in her teens, who seemed to have taken in the importance of including the vulnerable, being aware of those on the periphery, since her earliest childhood.

For that, much praise must go to her mother Angela, who lives out this commandment in her everyday life, but also to Ester who had a particular gift and became a blessing in the lives of the refugees amongst whom she worked.

Zecher Tzadeket livrachah—May the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Social4Social and the Ester Film Club

Ester was a volunteer at the weekly social evening organised by the Refugee Council for unaccompanied children and young people.

She and Sarah Hodgson, another volunteer, decided to raise funds for equipment to play music and show films as an extension to the social evening.


During Refugee Week 2006, they organised a successful musical evening that they called ‘Social4Social’: it raised both awareness and funds.

The money was enough for the Refugee Council to buy equipment and a year’s licence to show films. The Ester Film Club, launched on 29 November 2006, is a valuable extension to the social and educational activities that the Refugee Council offers. Varied films have been shown on a regular basis since then.

But the light evenings mean that the Ester Film Club is now ‘dark’ because there are no blackout curtains. It will resume when the nights draw in...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gary: 1000%

I am just writing a letter for my friend Ester. Just to say Ester will be deeply missed and allways in my heart and in my prayers. I just want Ester’s family and friends to know how great she was and how much she helped me when I was at the lowest point in my life. I didn’t want to live any more I wanted to die and I was very suicidal I had nothing to live for. But Ester helped me True the darkest times. Being so proffecional and having a Big heart she helped me see light at the end of the Tunnal. She gave me the will to live and told me about all the things in life I had worth living for like my family girlfriend and son. She stayed on the phone with me for over 1 and ½ hours untill she new I had the will to live and that it was safe to put the Phone down. From that day on my life and my atatude towards life is 1000%. I Just want to thank Ester I don’t Believe I would be still alive today if it wasn’t for my friend Ester. She is the Best. She has a heart of Gold and we need more people in this world like Ester with the love an dedication Ester had for her work clients and colleagues. Ester you will be deeply miss specially by me. Thanks for everything your great. RIP Ester. The world will never be the same again without you. Neather will I. We love you Girl.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eileen: precious loan

Ester was a lovely, gentle, caring lady who will always be remembered by me, and I know that she will always be a presence for me as I continue in the word she so loved.

“Lord, Ester was Thine
And not our own.
You have done us no wrong.
We thank you for the precious loan
Afforded us so long.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What do we tell the children? confusion, conflict and complexity


What do we tell the children? confusion, conflict and complexity
is dedicated:
In memory of Ester Gluck
who would know just what to say


In the acknowledgements, Angela writes:


"I pay tribute to my daughter, Ester Gluck. From an early age, she took a keen interest whenever I was “doing a writing” and increasingly offered perceptive comments and suggestions, based on a close attention to the text that was way beyond any daughterly duty. Characteristically, she brought her wisdom and wit, sensitivity and sharpness to her reading of the first draft of What do we tell the children? some two months before her tragic and untimely death in September 2006. Ester was my greatest ‘critical friend’—the greatest I could ever hope for."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Paul Anthony: an angel

I didn’t really know Ester as a person but we did speak a lot on the phone and she was just a really nice person to talk with, and to know that she’s not here with us anymore is very hard for me and a lot of other people.

Ester always have something nice to say and, in my heart, I know that she is in the arms of the good Lord and that’s how I want to remember her.

When I heard about what had happen, I didn’t know what to say or what to do but at the same time I really didn’t want to question God, really because he knows everything best.

To know that she was only 24 years old and have everything to live for. Her life has just started. She was just such a nice person in every way. Really I do appreciate every thing that this lovely person has done for me and a lot of other people.

I am sitting here writing this and I can’t even tell you how sad I am feeling but have to go on because this is for a very special person.

There has been a time in my life when I felt that I couldn’t go on but Ester was always there to talk to me and make me feel strong in myself again.

I really believe that she was my guidance because at times when I was at my lowest I would share things that I couldn’t share with anybody else. Talking to Ester made me feel so light.

She was like an angel that you can call on and she would always be there. I am so sorry that she is no longer here with us but she has been missed by a lot of people.

She has made a great impression on my life although we have only spoke over the phone and I do know she was very important to me.

Ester has really touch my life in many ways and I will never forget what she has done for me.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Max: rubbish dancer

Ester was a rubbish dancer when I saw her but an excellent support through her work. She understood that to best support the detainees meant supporting volunteers. And detainees and volunteers worked much better because of it. The time it took to do this meant that you knew it was more than a job for her and that motivated you in turn. She was genuine and this shone through everything else. Even her dancing.

Rabbi Elaina Rothman and Gerald Rothman: Jewish soul

Ester had a Jewish soul. It was impossible to know her and not to realise that. She was suffused with compassion, rachmannes, and a highly developed sense of the ethical—of what her Judaism and her God demanded of her. High on the list of those demands was understanding and assisting "the other" in our society, the underprivileged, the marginalised, those of a different faith and (in particular and very often the embodiment of many or all of those qualities) the refugee.

Micah told us, "Act justly and love mercy" (6: 8) and Ester took him at his word. In Devarim (the Book of Deuteronomy) we are told (10: 18 and 19) that God "shows no favour and takes no bribe, doing justice for the orphan and the widow and loving the stranger, to give him food and clothing. And you shall love the stranger (ger)…"

On that basis we are surely entitled to see in Ester's life a genuine reflection of imitatio dei. Zichrona livracha—may her memory be for a blessing.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dimple: free-spirited, vibrant and with a mind of her own


I am so sorry that we have lost both professionally and personally the fantastic person that was Ester… As an LDSG volunteer, I found that Ester was there to support me through the tough times and share the happiness through times of success.

Somehow all those sad, stereotypical cards of sympathy don’t seem to do Ester justice and these balloons are how I remember her: free-spirited, vibrant and with a mind of her own!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger, DBE: in abundance

“… for you know the heart of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” How often that verse, or some parallel to it, is repeated in the biblical and rabbinic literature. That has an immediate read across to how we should treat asylum seekers and refugees in the UK in our time. We have the instruction—all we need to do is get on with it.

Our role as Jews is to mitigate desperation, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give encouragement, mentoring, help, advice, and—where we can—employment or at least daytime activity. It is not only about money. It is about time, energy, love and compassion—and, of course, fellow feeling.

And that is what Ester had in abundance. She understood. We can learn from her understanding, and from her work. Our responsibility is to take it forward.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dr Jonathan Mirvis: a beacon

To be Jewish is to show sensitivity to the “ger”, to the foreigner. “And you shall love the foreigner”, we are taught. Identifying with the refugee, with the downtrodden, is a fundamental Jewish value.

Ester z”l* in choosing to identify with the plight of the refugee excelled in her appreciation of this important Jewish value. In the same way as the deeds of our forefathers are beacons for us, may her deeds be a beacon for others.

Yehi zichrah baruch. May her memory be a blessing.

[* Hebrew shorthand for ‘of blessed memory’]

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jeremy Gerber: inspiring example

I had the pleasure of getting to know Ester on several occasions over the past three years, first during my visits to Cardiff University’s J-soc (Jewish Society) in 2003—04, and later as a visiting rabbinical student at Minyan Chadash at New London Synagogue. I have spent many of the Jewish holidays with Minyan Chadash, and I have very, very fond memories of meals at the Glucks and singing together in services with Ester. Many of the leaders of the minyan are such wonderful people who have left deep and lasting impressions on me, and Ester is certainly one of the most memorable. I will always miss her energy, her passion for Judaism and for singing, and her willingness to help out and contribute whenever possible.

May we all take the opportunity to learn from Ester’s inspiring example, and seek to live our lives according to our stated values. I know that I will always remember Ester’s life and her work, especially when I celebrate the holidays and when I need to be motivated into action for one cause or another.

I will always be thankful to her for giving me the opportunity to learn these lessons and find such inspiration in our tradition. Her presence, her enthusiasm, and the way she lived her life with ideology and action will truly be missed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Jessica: a normal day

It was a normal day in LSDG’s office, with the regular sound of the telephone only disturbed from time to time by the bipping of the fax machine. Ester received a call from one of our clients. He was so revolted against his situation that his anger was about to turn into violence. Most of us would have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of his rage, but not Ester. She started to talk to him about George Orwell’s 1984 and how to turn one’s revolt against an oppressive system into a powerful and ever-lasting testimony. Both of them engaged in a long and intense conversation about art as a means of expression, which sounded surrealistic given the circumstances and yet absolutely fascinating. She had this exceptional and inspiring capacity to understand people, just because she deeply cared.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Clare Carter: impact

I know you would have been so proud to see the impact your life has had on so many. I did not know you for long—but you changed my life and the way I thought about things! You are a very special person. May your light continue to shine… I miss you.

Megan Horvath: life force

Dear Darling Ester

I don’t think I ever make it clear enough how much of a comfort and support you were to me as a volunteer. For this I am so grateful. You were a life force and have touched all of us who had the pleasure to know you, however briefly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ryan Dolan: Happy Birthday, Barbie Girl

Ester told me once that she had always wanted a Barbie doll for her birthday. I did not understand as she did not seem like a Barbie girl. But, Angela being an enlightened and progressive mother did not think that these were suitable toys for daughter. You have to remember, that at the time they were not making Advocate Barbie - with Home Office battling functions and advanced recycling abilities. Of course that made Barbie more precious. It’s like that with kids, isn’t it? The more you tell them they can’t have something, the more precious it becomes. I have the same thing with my son and power rangers.

Friday night dinner came and we carried the conversation on with Angela and Alice-ter. I think Angela had forgotten this, she was adamant that this was not right. We gave her a ribbing about it over dinner, and if you will pardon the pun, we made quite a meal of the joke (Ha ha).

Anyway Ester’s birthday rolls around, and you know she did not like to do anything on her birthday. I guess she would never have told me when it was, if she thought she could get away with it. So I bought her lots of little presents. That way it looks like I have not gone over board and bought her anything too big. One of them was a Barbie doll. I know that we had given Angela a hard time over it recently, so I am thinking that maybe I should not give it to Ester while Angela is around. I was worried she would not see the funny side.

This time last year, we were sitting at dinner again and without any one having discussed it Angela produces her present for Ester, a Barbie doll. I produce my present for Ester, a Barbie doll. And Alice-ter? No, he did not get Barbie. Bless our Alice-ter got Esterbeth the Ken doll.

They were very happy days and they seem so long ago now.
Happy Birthday, Barbie Girl.

Ry**

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Purple flowers


The ground has settled on Ester’s grave and the stone will be laid in the autumn. In the week of Ester’s birthday—and on her birthday in the Hebrew calendar—Rima and Angela planted a bed of flowers.

Natalie says, “Flowers within us sometimes grow. Sometimes they wither and die. We all have the seeds: it depends on how we look after them.”

If you're visiting Ester’s grave in the coming months—and the flowers seem to need watering—please give them a drink to help them stay fresh until Ester's stone is laid. There are taps, buckets and jugs in the grounds of the Hoop Lane cemetery. Ester’s grave is in Row 34 on the north-western side.

Debi Penhey: the princess and the shirt

For 24 years I have shared my birthday with Ester. What should I do this year on Thursday? We still share a birthday, but I can’t send her happy birthday wishes, nor can she send them to me.

I first met Ester when she was Angela’s bump – a few weeks before she was born, when Angela was my teacher in the conversion class at West London Synagogue. I was delighted when she was born on my 22nd birthday. Over the years we have exchanged greetings, jokes, messages, news and love.

I shall miss all of this. I shall also miss our long-standing joke of how she coveted a favourite shirt of mine. We shared a love of purple, and every time Ester saw me wearing my beautiful long purple and blue shirt, she asked if she could have it. I have always thought of her whenever I’ve worn it, and always will.

I’ll wear the shirt on our birthday, Ester, and think of you. Have a good day wherever you are.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid: passion to serve

I met Ester at a Jewish Muslim Young theatre performance and at her speeches on Refugees. She was a lovely and gifted young lady, full of vigour and insight. Her passion to serve others was extraordinary.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Aisha Phoenix: Irresistible Smile

Irresistible Smile

I first heard "Ebony & Ivory" at your Bat Mitzvah.
You must have been 13 or 14 then.
I was so taken by your rendition
That I longed to hear the song again
Only to be disappointed, years later,
By an original that didn't sound like you.

At the moment you're walking slowly through my mind
With big shoes and baggy trousers trailing on the ground.
But what's pulling at me is your smile -
An irresistibly cheeky grin that takes over your face
And dares the world not to smile back.

I doubt it was a coincidence that you picked
"Ebony & Ivory" to sing back then,
Resonating, as it does, with your desire for peace and unity.
I can't imagine you seeking refuge in silence
If an injustice needed to be named.

Remember when you sat
Challenging Home Office movers and shakers
About UK race and equality policies?
Unperturbed, you spoke with that trademark confidence and eloquence
As your audience squirmed in their seats.

It was a very different audience in the nineties.
When "perfect harmony" cut through the quiet room
Your smile shone above rapturous applause.
Without even closing my eyes
I see that same smile.

Nancy Cranham: a rarity and a blessing

I have very vivid memories of Ester, the time we spent together on the heath, conversations (often rants against the injustice of the world) that we engaged in, and lots and lots of laughing.

She had a lot of guts. Every time someone at school was picked out by others to be taunted or humiliated for being different, Ester stood up for them. She always defended them, even whilst alone, even at the risk of facing abuse herself, and I admired her immensely and wished I had that much courage myself.

I remember that, like for many people, Ester's teenage years had their ups and downs, their dark periods. But what distinguished her from the rest was that at those points when others would have given in to what was bringing them down, Ester would suddenly appear incredibly strong, and it was these times that I have such clear memories of. She stood alone and sang to us all in assembly, with her powerful, wonderful voice.

She gave a moving and remarkable performance as Arthur Miller's Maggie that I will always remember.

When she was away for a longer period, we wrote letter after letter to each other, and she entertained me, encouraged me, and kept me healthily enraged at those injustices we'd sat raving about when together.

Ester was one of the strongest characters and strongest people I've ever known, she influenced me greatly at a time when knowing people like her was a rarity and a blessing, and could help shape the person you would become. She was an absolute star and I will always remember her with great love.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bini Hirsh: wish

Dear Ester,

I wish I could tell you about the week away I just had with FOCUS.I wish you were there and then I wouldn't have to tell you. It would have been a two way thing – your heart would have been filled with joy by the achievements of the teenagers involved, and they would have thrived on your attentions and your wisdom. I wish it could have happened that way.

We took a group of teenagers who have been involved with us before and have found it helpful, and offered them the opportunity to use their new-found skills to help others. A couple of days talking about leadership skills and team work, then halfway through the week we presented each team of five young people and three volunteers with a video camera and a minibus and told them their challenge was to 'change the world' and keep a video diary while doing it!

Ester, you know the sort of situations many of these kids live in; at the beginning of the week they all just felt powerless. They knew they wanted things to change, but they didn't believe that anything they did would have an effect; they didn't think they had the power to implement those changes.

If only you could have seen the journey these kids went on this week. The teenagers on my team chose Gandhi's words as their inspiration and we drove around Gloucestershire with a banner taped to the side of our bus saying 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' They handed out fair trade chocolates and talked to local people about movements like fair trade, and about little things that individuals can do to change the world. They handed out colourful leaflets they had made with different ideas, and were so excited when one village stuck the leaflet up in the window of their tourist information office! The smallest guy on our team, a bullied little kid with a speech difficulty, said that if he had one wish that would change the world it would be to make the police more friendly, so they arranged to go to a police station and interview an officer to talk about how they could change the bad reputation young people have with police, and how to improve relationships between young people and the police. And it was only at the end of their two day challenge that they began to realise the greatest effect all their actions had had – these tough guys who a year ago you wouldn't have wanted to meet on a street corner at night had turned into ambassadors of change, showing everyone that young people really do care and do want to help to improve their worlds. They showed that young people can be approachable and can have intelligent conversations and can respect different opinions. I guess you had to be there, but you'll just have to take my word for it – it was inspiring.

But aside from all the world changing adventures, what really struck home was that these tough guys we had started working with a year or two ago are really just children who have had a horrible time. As their confidence grows enough to let them show holes in their armour, what we see underneath are scared children who desperately want love and security. They need you Ester.

You're not here. We're doing the best we can for them anyway. One of the volunteers, a guy called R, is fantastic with the boys – at bedtime he just acts like a Dad. He goes round reminding them all to brush their teeth and wash their faces, and if their faces are grubby he rummages around in his pockets for a tissue while they just wipe their faces on their sleeves then give him a cheeky grin like happy little kids. Then they get into their beds and he sits and reads Harry Potter to them until they fall asleep. You wouldn't believe the youngest is fourteen and the oldest nearly seventeen. When they were leaving yesterday they all swarmed round him with their little kid faces on again, wanting a hug or a hair-ruffling or just a last bit of that secure child feeling before they had to go back to the real world. And with love like that the teenagers turn themselves into brothers and sisters, looking after each other and feeding love back into their 'family'. I loved that when there were arguments or tears they could mostly resolve it amongst themselves – that they are growing independent of us now.

Your friend S, who you were so inspired by that time – he's having a really hard time at home. He's a strong and talented person, you saw that before all the rest of us, and he has the love of all his 'brothers and sisters', but his life at home is so tough these days that none of us know if he will get through it and we're all worried for him. He could have done with your support this week Ester.

I know you're not here, and I know it's pointless me writing all this but I just WISH you could see it and I wish you could be involved, and I wish you could also enjoy the hope and the optimism and the human kindness that these kids gave to me this last week. I hate wishing for the impossible Ester, I hate this.

All at BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees): spirit in our fight

We write to express our sadness at Ester’s death. It seems unbelievable that we won’t be getting any more emails, with details of detainees, from her. We have tragically lost a member of the cause and her spirit will be with us in our fight.

Helena Cullen (LDSG volunteer): dedication and commitment

I only met Ester once, during my training, but I remember very clearly her dedication and commitment to the work. She was also very kind and supportive when I spoke to her on the phone, in connection with my detainee.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Aisha Phoenix: touch

“Who are you crying for?”
She asked the salty eyes.
“Not for me, those tears, I hope,
For I cannot bathe in them.”
“It’s…” the eyes tried to explain.
“It’s not for you,
But for those you’ve left behind.
The ones you've yet to touch
And those you already have.
It’s for us.
The moments we shared,
The exchanges we’d like to have.
It’s an attempt to understand
Why you've touched so many and are gone
Why we’re still here...”

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sarah Weston: glue

Tzedek is a Jewish overseas development and educational charity, based in the UK, with the motto 'Jewish action for a just world'.

Ester was my co-ordinator on the Tzedek trip to Ghana in the summer of 2003. She was the glue that held our small group together and she fulfilled her role as co-ordinator with passion, talent and true leadership. Her love and knowledge of Ghana, and some of the close relationships she had with many of the Ghanaians working for the NGO's with which Tzedek was associated, enriched the time we spent in Ghana enormously.

It was Ester's fantastic leadership and her introduction to beautiful Ghana that inspired me to return there this summer and lead the Tzedek programme in Tamale. I thought about her often during the summer, particularly during difficult situations, often asking myself what would Ester have done in the same situation.

One particular memory I have of Ester is when she accompanied myself and another volunteer on some outreach work we were doing in several villages, giving HIV/AIDS education. Her feedback was very valuable to us and it was a real pleasure to experience occasions such as this, with someone who thought so deeply and so intelligently about development issues and about life in general.

I will always remember Ester as one of life’s truly exceptional people. She had such a warm and wonderful manner and it made all of our group feel immediately comfortable in her presence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Carita (LDSG volunteer): warm and passionate

What an impact Ester made!

Ester and I spoke mainly over the phone. If I had a worry, she would listen. If I wanted to let off steam about some injustice faced by a client, she would often join in! And when I needed support, she would just know to offer it—giving me encouragement to get back to tackling bureaucracy and unscrupulous lawyers before my spirits sank too far… In person, she was just as warm and passionate.

This is why I am so glad we met and it is how I will always remember her.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

DEDICATED TO ESTER

To enlarge flier, click and then click again to zoom.
The Tricycle Theatre Jewish and Muslim Youth Theatre Group (affectionately known as 'The Muju Group') - of which Ester was a founder member in September 2004 - abandoned the performance they were working on with her, as what they call "an act of mourning".

They have created a new production - called 'Evicted' - that they are dedicating to Ester's memory.

'Evicted' will be performed at The Tricycle Theatre (Kilburn) at 5.30 pm on Sunday 25 March. The performance lasts about an hour. Tickets are at £5.00 (£2.00 concessions) and can be obtained from the box office at 020 7328 1000.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tessa (LDSG volunteer visitor): a candle for Ester

I happened to mention, when I was visiting with Liz, that Ester had sent me a very helpful and very kind e-mail in response to a query. And then Liz told me what happened. It is so sad that words fail me.

Although I had only visited a couple of times since Ester became my contact point at LDSG, I was very glad of her help and support. Her response to my query about bail applications was a long, thoughtful and caring e-mail. I had not seen her for a few months but I did bump into her at Colnbrook at the beginning of the summer. I was so impressed that she immediately remembered me and who I was visiting. She was truly dedicated to her work and she will be remembered by LDSG staff, visitors and detainees without exception.

I will light a candle for Ester.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Alice Bell: smiling

I first met Ester in babyhood, way before either of us could remember. We went to school together for about 10 years and grew up on the same street. In nearly every memory I have of Ester, she has the same huge, warm smile. I'll never forget her smile.

I've just published a knitting pattern (purple) in memory of Ester, and thought I should share it with others who loved her.

Photos of the ‘Ester’ knitting pattern that Alice created and the garment she knitted appear at
http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring%2007/PATTester.html or http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring07/index.html and click 'patterns' and then 'ester'. There Alice writes: “This design is named after a dear friend who died suddenly last summer.”

Friday, March 02, 2007

John Robinson: touched by her life

I was present at the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Irish CCJ* just before Christmas and was asked to speak without any prior notice. I found myself speaking about Ester in the context of the work we are trying to do. It is hard to put into words the effect one human life has on others, or the impact made when two lives touch, but I find myself thinking about Ester very frequently, still mourning her and still somehow being touched by her life. May she rest in peace.

* Council of Christians and Jews

Friday, February 23, 2007

David (LDSG volunteer): a little memory of Ester

Ester was totally committed to her work and to her clients. She was incredibly supportive to her volunteers, too, as I can attest. For one of my clients, a Ghanaian, she did tons of research and made innumerable phone calls. She was always very patient in explaining things over and over to new volunteers like me! I will miss her very much.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gerald Rothman: a lamed-vavnik

The following appeared in the February edition of the New London Synagogue newsletter:

Written all over our history - A Yom Limmud for Ester Gluck z”l

The untimely death of New London member Ester Gluck last September understandably left all who knew her and her mother, Angela, in a state of shock. Very quickly, however, the desire arose amongst Angela’s and Ester’s many friends to “do something” to recognise and commemorate such a precious life. Ester’s life expressed itself largely through her love of Judaism, her support of those disadvantaged in society, especially refugees and asylum seekers, and her involvement with interfaith dialogue. It seemed, therefore, an obvious decision to hold a Yom Limmud (a study day) in Ester’s memory on Jewish responsibilities towards refugees. Angela and her many friends, particularly colleagues and students at the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, threw themselves into the preparations for the day, which took place during Chanukah at the London Jewish Cultural Centre in Hampstead.

Over a hundred people, Jews and non-Jews, of several nationalities turned up to spend time both studying and listening to those whose experiences were so important to Ester. The day started with an introduction from representatives of the Refugee Council, who explained the nature of their work and introduced five young asylum seekers (from places such as Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya), who spoke in simple terms about their personal stories and the significance of their new lives in Britain.

The participants then broke into groups to study texts both modern and ancient, seeking to learn what Jewish history could teach us about our responsibilities to refugees.The combination of Torah texts dealing with our obligations to the “ger” (stranger or resident alien) and modern texts dealing with the Jewish experience of both being refugees during the Shoah and also witnessing refugees from places such as Vietnam and Sudan made a powerful impression on those present.

After a lunch break, the groups reconvened to study texts from Torah, Talmud and commentaries dealing with our responsibilities towards strangers, hospitality to travellers, the worth of human beings and open and closed societies, which formed a fitting backdrop to the final session of the day.

Following an introduction from a representative of the London Detainees’ Support Group (LDSG), who outlined the work undertaken by the organization – work in which Ester herself had been closely involved – the participants listened to two former detainees (now granted refuge in the Britain) talking of their experiences. One spoke so eloquently and movingly of his hardships and of how he had been helped by Ester, her compassion and her sympathy, that there were few completely dry eyes in the hall when he finished.

One of the few Jewish volunteers involved with the LDSG told the gathering of his experiences and related them to his Jewish identity in a way that could not fail to make an impact on his listeners, at which point the proceeding were closed with a prayer and the lighting of the Chanukiah. The hope had been expressed that the day’s study would leave the participants a little more knowledgeable and caring and, in some way, better Jews than when they had arrived. I believe that that hope was realised, and that the day was a fitting tribute to the love and respect felt for Ester and Angela. Anyone who is interested to learn more about Ester and why those who knew her considered her to be such a very special young lady is referred to the website set up by her friends: http://www.esterthepurpleprincess.blogspot.com/

For me, she will remain one of the lamed-vavniks. May her memory be for a blessing.

Gerald Rothman


**********

The Minyan Chadash has decided to honour the memory
of Ester by presenting a Torah Mantle, Ark Curtain and
Bimah cover for the new Ark and Bimah in the Hall.

It will be made in purple, Ester’s favourite colour, and
an appeal is being launched to cover the costs.

If you would like to contribute please use the reply
form enclosed with this Newsletter or simply send a
cheque (payable to NLS) to the office clearly marked
that the donation is for the Ester Gluck appeal.

Any surplus will be given to the foundation for child
refugees (likely to be called 'The Separated Child') that
friends of Ester's are establishing in her memory.