Ben Helfgott, the 87-year-old holocaust survivor and UK Olympic hero, has been honored for his lifelong work in promoting education and remembrance of the Shoah at the first Limmud FSU Europe conference on February 4 in London.
Helfgott survived Buchenwald death camp and was liberated from Theresienstadt. He is well known for his achievements in the field of weightlifting at two Olympic games while representing the UK, his adopted country. Helfgott also founded and led the ’45 Aid Society, an organization that was set up to assist hundreds of children who arrived in the UK after the Holocaust.
Helfgott received the honorary award during an emotional ceremony at the Limmud FSU Europe Gala event from founder of Limmud FSU Chaim Chesler, Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider and Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar. The award he was presented with was created by Frank Meisler, an Israeli artist who escaped Germany on the Kindertransport.
During his speech Helfgott hailed the educational work of Limmud FSU and said: “I’m very humbled to receive this honorary award. What I do is very important to me. We must never forget.”
Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider said during the ceremony that “I have known and worked with Ben for over 20 years, and he is my hero for several reasons. He is the epitome of bravery, tenacity and courage.” Schneider elaborated: “For the last 20 years, Ben has devoted himself to Holocaust education. And his message is consistent: never forget the horrors of the Shoah but use it to inspire reconciliation and to spread peace and love.”
Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler added: “It’s an enormous honor for us to be able to present Ben with our Limmud FSU honorary award for his contribution to Holocaust education, his outstanding achievements in sports and the Olympics and his admirable legacy.”