for forthcoming uk programmes of jewish or israeli interest

Kindertransport & Syrians

this morning (friday 16th), 11.00-11.30am, on bbc radio 4 

the syrians and the kindertransport (presented by nikki tapper)

Ruth Shire is 98 and Lia Lesser is 88, and they are both Jewish. Louai and Murad are in their 30s and are both Muslims. Despite those obvious differences, these four people have much in common – especially their experience of having to flee the countries they grew up in because of war [sic].

They all miss the countries they left behind but, at the same time, they love their new home and are determined to make a life for themselves and their families here.

Ruth came to Britain via a private scheme that was a forerunner to what eventually became known as the Kindertransport. Arriving in Oxford, she worked first as a milkmaid and then moved to Birmingham where she trained as a nurse. “One good thing about refugees,” she says, “is that we think outside of the box. The worst thing about being a refugee is that you can’t make any plans.”

Lia was eight when she made the journey from former Czechoslovakia to Britain in 1939. Like Ruth, she trained as a nurse in Birmingham – a job she did for 45 years. “In a way, I feel lucky,” she tells the two Syrians. “I lost my family in the Holocaust, but I didn’t see it happen, whereas you actually saw your loved ones being killed.”

Nikki Tapper hears Ruth, Louai, Lia and Murad describe what they left behind and the imperative to get out of one place and settle somewhere else. We also hear from • Reverend David Butterworth and • Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi who have campaigned for Birmingham to welcome refugees.”

(if you missed it, available at

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