Lawrie’s vision helped create a generation of young Jewish activists

Lawrie Nerva with wife Ruby, (left) Dame Louise Ellman and Adrian Cohen (Credit: Adrian Cohen)
Lawrie Nerva with wife Ruby, (left) Dame Louise Ellman and Adrian Cohen (Credit: Adrian Cohen)

Lawrie’s passing, at the age of 9 8years, is a profound loss for his devoted family and for many of us who knew him as a kind man who was always ready to share his knowledge and experience to benefit the Jewish community and wider society.

His knowledge of the Labour Party and Labour Zionism spanned generations.

He had that rare ability to relate easily to people of all ages and backgrounds, always ready to listen to younger people . And in return they benefitted from his wisdom.

Lawrie’s work in Poale Zion, together with Judith Bara who was secretary, enabled Labour Zionism’s voice to be heard in very challenging times when the left started to turn against Zionism.

We were all determined that Poale Zion would survive although our membership had dropped and our finances were depleted.

Our meetings at Labour Party conferences were always packed out, covering topics such as promoting a negotiated 2 state solution to the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict and fighting fascist groups such as the BNP.

Lawrie’s foresight in changing Poale Zion’s name to the Jewish Labour Movement in 2004 facilitated new generations becoming active and addressing new challenges.

Lawrie’s commitment to socialism was shown in his important work as a councillor and his vigorous opposition to racism.

He worked hard to build bridges with all ethnic groups long before it became normal practice to do so.

Lawrie had wonderful support from his devoted family – Ruby, Neil and Anne.

Neil is, of course, an active councillor in his own right. I often noticed Ruby gently but firmly putting Lawrie right if she thought he had strayed from the correct course at our Poale Zion and JLM meetings.

Few people have been as politically engaged as Lawrie over so many decades .He was tireless in his determination to build a fairer world.  Society is poorer with Lawrie’s passing. And I have lost a good friend.

About the Author
Dame Louise Ellman is the former Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside