Dear Marina was the definition of an Eshet Chayil – a woman of worth

Marina Smith, her husband Eddie, and their sons, Stephen and James, founded Beth Shalom, the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, in 1995. It is the only Holocaust Centre anywhere in the world founded by a Christian family.  

I’ve known Marina for many years, first as a visitor to Beth Shalom, then as a Trustee and finally as its Chair.  She was a truly remarkable woman – short in stature but a giant in the way that she lived her life! Loved by all, not just by her immediate family, but by all whose lives she touched, especially her wider family, the survivors.

When she entered a room, they all stood and rushed to hug and kiss her.   They did that because of what she had done for them, opening her heart and her home to them, becoming a family for those who had none and creating opportunities for them to tell their stories to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Centre since it opened its doors.

Tea with Marina in Bethany, her home next to the Centre, was like having tea with the Queen Mother, except that the food was better at Bethany!

As a qualified RE teacher, she was the first Director of Education at the Centre and understood the importance of shaping minds and attitudes of students not only to teach the lessons of the Holocaust but also to attempt to heal and repair Judeo/Christian relations in our fractured world.

When she stepped down from that role, she remained at the heart of the Centre, maintaining regular email contact with our family of survivors to the very end, respected and beloved by them and by all our staff and volunteers.

My life was enriched by knowing her and I promise that the work she began will continue.  I will miss her calls and messages of support.   As she rests in the peace that she so richly deserves, our thoughts are not only with her but with all the Smith family.

May her memory be a blessing to us all.

About the Author
Henry Grunwald is a founder and first Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, a former president of the Board of Deputies, and is a criminal barrister.