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Boris Johnson talks of the rich and varied genius of the Jewish community

At the Jewish Museum fundraising dinner

Thursday 25 June 2009, Mansion House

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London was the guest of honour at the Jewish Museum’s fundraising dinner on Thursday 25 June 2009 at the Mansion House. More than 200 people attended the black tie event at Mansion House in the presence of the Lord Mayor Alderman Ian Luder and the Lady Mayoress. The dinner raised approximately of £200,000 in support of the Jewish Museum Development Project.

Lady Wendy Levene welcomed guests to the dinner and gave a short speech before welcoming Boris Johnson to the stage. She talked about how antisemitism has become rife and is often acceptable in mainstream society, and emphasised the importance of the museum’s work in educating children and young people to change attitudes and encourage interfaith understanding. Antisemitism would not be overcome 'by people forgetting us, but by people getting to know us’. Lady Levene also paid tribute to the Mayor’s far-reaching support of minorities, pointing out that the Jewish community is one of Britain’s oldest minority groups. She concluded with the words ’What a history we have to tell, and what a museum it will be!’ and by thanking guests for ‘helping us to achieve our dream’.

The Mayor began his keynote address by commenting on how business confidence was recovering in the city, and joked that politicians ’had recently taken a bullet for the bankers’ in the media. He pointed out that London is more than just a financial centre, although it has some of the greatest accountancy firms and six of the top law firms. London is a leader in the academic sector with top universities, and a ‘medicopolis’ – a leader in medical science. London also excelled in the field of arts, culture and the media, and would be adorned by the new Jewish Museum when it reopens.

The Mayor emphasised that all sectors "have benefited from the rich and varied genius of the Jewish community". He then echoed Lady Levene’s comments: "I plant my flag on what Wendy Levene has said. It is vital to remember what the Jewish community have done for London and it is also vital to remember the senseless threats that Jews have faced throughout history." He concluded by asking guests to "dig deep" in support of the new museum.

The Jewish Museum is currently in the midst of an exciting expansion project that has been part funded by a £4.2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The £10m project will triple the space at the museum’s Camden Town premises and integrate the collections, displays and activities of its two former sites under one roof. The new museum, scheduled to open in early 2010, will have enlarged exhibition galleries, new education facilities, an auditorium and hands-on displays for children and families.

When it reopens the Jewish Museum hopes to reach 165,000 people annually through its new displays and a dynamic events and exhibition programme. It will engage with people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths to explore Jewish culture, heritage and identity as part of the wider story of Britain. The museum aims to build interfaith understanding, promote tolerance and inspire people to take a stand against racism.

The museum recently announced that it has reached over 90,000 people during the last year through its education work, events, off-site exhibitions and outreach programme.

Rickie Burman, Director of the Jewish Museum said: “We are delighted that the Mayor has endorsed the Jewish Museum at this crucial stage in our development. When it opens the new museum will be a positive force in stamping out racism and fighting antisemitism as well as an inspirational and exciting place to explore Jewish culture and heritage as part of the vibrancy of multicultural Britain.”

For further information or for images from the event, please contact Dina Wosner: 020 8371 7373, or

Monday 28th March, 2011

Press & filming

For press enquiries please contact: David Lasserson, Brunswick Arts on +44 (0)20 7936 1290