A ceremony took place in Preston Park yesterday to mark the planting of a native oak tree honouring the enormous contribution of Jewish refugees in Britain.
80 native oak trees are being planted around Britain in honour of people and places that symbolise the enormous contribution made to every walk of British life by refugees who escaped from Nazi Europe.
AJR have selected 80 different locations throughout the UK, from as far north as Castle Douglas in Scotland down to Mousehole in Cornwall.
Brighton & Hove is the latest location to have the honour of hosting a tree.
Each location has its own unique link with AJR members – some of them offered a place of safety to the refugees when they first arrived, others may be where a significant number of refugees chose to settle and make their home.
Other locations might have a strong personal connection with an individual refugee or their descendants.
80 trees for 80 years
Joining AJR CEO Michael Newman OBE at the ceremony were AJR tree sponsor, John Board and AJR time capsule sponsor, Eli Abt and their families, alongside the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Alan Robins, Councillor Steph Powell, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, Councillor Amanda Grimshaw and Councillor Carol Theobald.
As well as helping to mark the heritage of many of our members, the planting of the trees enables the AJR to give back to and create a living legacy within the country that became our home.
Britain’s native oak trees are in decline and new trees are desperately needed. We hope that our 80 trees will be appreciated by future generations and provide natural habitats for other native species for many decades to come.
Each tree acts as a platform for telling the story of Britain’s Jewish refugees and celebrating the remarkable contribution they’ve made to every walk of British life. A time capsule alongside the roots of every tree, containing key facts about our refugee community and sharing the life story of one or more AJR members.
The Preston Park oak will soon appear on the AJR’s UK Holocaust Map, illustrating the UK's sites of Holocaust memory – those places relating to the victims, survivors and refugees of Nazism as well as rescuers, liberators and aid givers.
Creating a living legacy
AJR CEO, Michael Newman OBE, said: “As well as helping to mark the heritage of our members and a place of historic interest associated with them, the planting of this tree enables the AJR to give back to and create a living legacy within the country that became home to the Jewish refugees.
“Britain’s native oak trees are in decline and new trees are desperately needed. We hope these 80 special trees will be appreciated by future generations and provide natural habitats for other native species for many decades to come.”
Proud to host this living memorial
Councillor Steph Powell, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, said:
“We are delighted to be planting this tree to honour the 80th anniversary of the Association of Jewish Refugees.
“We are very proud to be among the locations chosen around the UK to host one of these living memorials to AJR members.
“Honouring the people who survived the Holocaust helps us remember the millions who perished.
“The need to stand up to racial persecution and intolerance is as great today as it was 80 years ago.
“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all our diverse communities and continue to say ‘never again’.
“We must all learn the lessons from the past, and how harmful prejudice and discrimination is.
“We do not tolerate hate in our city. We continue to work collaboratively with our community groups bringing people together, building tolerance and standing against hate wherever we find it.
“What better way is there to honour their legacy than by planting a tree when the need to protect our environment is even greater than it was 80 years ago.”
The ’80 Trees for 80 Years’ project has been endorsed by the Queens Green Canopy, a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.