Personal recollections on the passing of my mentor, teacher and guide

Adrian (left) with Lord Glasman and Rabbi Pinter (centre) taken on Purim just past.
Adrian (left) with Lord Glasman and Rabbi Pinter (centre) taken on Purim just past.

Much will be said about the public figure Rabbi Pinter in the coming days and rightly so. For many he was the public face of Stamford Hill. He was the consummate ambassador for his community, well connected within the wider community, the Labour Party, Hackney and City Hall, not to mention central Government.

He and his late wife, Mrs Gitty Pinter, also pioneered state funded Haredi education with the Yesoday Hatorah Girls School and latterly he was involved in the struggle with OFSTED. But for me he was foremost a close personal friend.

He was my mentor, teacher and guide.

He was my Rebbe.

We were introduced back in 2005 at the height of the controversy with the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and together we and others founded the London Jewish Forum and ever since we have been the closest of friends.

He introduced me to the rich, varied and fascinating world of Chassidich Stamford Hill.

His welcome extended to my family. We attended each other’s simchas and we shared in each other’s bereavements.

We were study partners. I

was privileged to officiate as Cohen at the pidyon haben of one of his many grandchildren.

When we put up a zip wire in our back garden he was one of the first to have a go on it.

He came and stayed with us in Highgate for one of our simchas, unheard of for a Stamford Hill Rav. And on the last night of the year of mourning for my father I led the davening in Yesoday HaTorah.

With his common sense, empathy and diplomatic skills, I often felt I was sitting at the feet of a master of stadlanut (the old fashioned skills of dealing with secular authorities).

He taught me pragmatism and a different way of thinking. He helped me get into the Mir Yeshiva for a three month sabbatical.

We had a shared interest in all things Jewish. But he also loved talking Labour Party politics too.

And during the Corbyn era he stood resolutely by the wider community whilst keeping open back channels of communication.

Adrian and his son Toby with Rabbi Pinter in January at Rabbi Pinter’s Siyum haShas

He jokingly referred to himself as the rabbi of the loony left. But he always had the interests of the wider community at heart.

He played an instrumental role in the election of Marie van der Zyl to presidency of the Board of Deputies encouraging her to stand and always providing her with support after she was elected.

He was regularly consulted by Rabbi Liss, chair of the US Rabbinical Council. He would help in small ways too trekking across North London on an early Sunday morning to help with the Highgate minyan for which I run the rota.

Mostly I will remember Rabbi Pinter for his wit and sense of humour, with an ability to disarm the most difficult and sceptical of individuals.

We were last together on Purim when Lord Maurice Glasman and I shared seuda with him and his family.

He received a steady stream of visitors paying respects.  Within his community he fought the virus and on the phone a few  weeks ago he said to me that unfortunately people will only take this seriously when people start dying.

He really was one of the best and will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his family.

About the Author
Amongst his many communal roles Adrian is a founder and co-lead of the London Jewish Forum and lay chair of Labour Friends of Israel. He is a trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council. He is deputy for Highgate Synagogue on the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He is also a trustee of Reprieve.
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