Zelda Harris
Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Larger than Life-tribute to Ivan Pope

He was not tall in stature yet he was a giant in endeavour and drive. One of the most genuine, dynamic human beings I have ever known. It’s hard to speak about him in the past Ivan Pope, Zionist, Pioneer, East End boy, has left us.

Not tall but great. A wonderful husband, father, grandfather, colleague and friend.

He came to Israel with his wife Yetta in the first year of the State. He toiled the land, drove a truck during their time on kibbutz and then at some point started an insurance business.

My husband Leon and I had met  them both in the early years. Olim from UK reached out to each other because we were all ardent zionists who had survived WW2.

However it was only when we came to live in Netanya in 1978 that we became friends and also his clients.

One fine day I went to see him about renewing our house and car insurance and somehow we got talking about Professor Gerry Ben David z’l. Friends in the UK who greatly admired the Professor  had encouraged me to make contact with him. I was not aware that Ivan knew him but it seems they were both Habonim mates from youth.

I mentioned to Ivan that Professor Ben David  a renowned physicist was extremely concerned  about the increasing fatalities on our roads and was seeking financial support for his research institute, situated at Nahal Sorek. I  had suggested to Gerry that rather than knocking on doors for funds for what I considered a dry and limited approach to a very human and distressing subject, we start a public lobby organisation.

Ivan jumped at the idea and for me that was all I needed. He even said that he wanted to emulate his father who was a very benevolent man and had supported many charities.

Metuna was launched in 1993 at the Conservative Synagogue Hall in Netanya, thanks to the generosity of Rabbi Erwin Birnbaum. Several hundred people were there, mostly English speakers. Within a short time we made a difference not only to road safety generally but with amazing results in Netanya, which for both of us was important. We received the support of the Mayors Poleg and then Fierberg.

We can take credit for the introduction of  round- a- bouts and road bumps, seat belts on school buses and other achievements, including a inter active program in schools. We also were able to advise many victims and families, devastated by loss or severe injury.

Metuna, received the Knesset Award for Quality of Life-for saving lives on the roads. This  was presented to Ivan in a ceremony at the Knesset.

So the passing of dear Ivan, friend and inspiration is sad, but he leaves a legacy for others to adopt. A hard act to follow, indeed. Baruch Dayan Emet!

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.
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