Work begins on the new London Jewish Cultural Centre

PUBLISHED: 12:39 18 December 2011

Mike Freer MP Ground breaking for The Catherine Lewis Youth Centre at LJCC,Pictured Barry Stiefel(representing Natie Kirsh),Hannah Lewis(Mother of Catherine Lewis)Michael Marx(Chairman LJCC) Adam Rose (Jewish Youth Fund) & Mike Freer MP

Mike Freer MP Ground breaking for The Catherine Lewis Youth Centre at LJCC,Pictured Barry Stiefel(representing Natie Kirsh),Hannah Lewis(Mother of Catherine Lewis)Michael Marx(Chairman LJCC) Adam Rose (Jewish Youth Fund) & Mike Freer MP

© Nigel Sutton email

Work has begun on a new youth centre to connect Jewish youngsters to their cultural identity.

The London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC) is opening a new wing in North End Road, Golders Green, to provide a larger programme to inspire and unite young Jews.

The project was praised by Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer who said the building will promote inter-faith dialogue and create a more harmonious community.

The Conservative MP said: “It is vital the younger members of the community develop the confidence to deal with life.”

Speaking of his recent attack in which he was forced to hide behind a locked door when members of the group Muslims Against Crusades threatened him at a constituency surgery, Mr Freer added: “I had some recent personal experience on how inter-faith dialogue doesn’t always go to plan.

“What was interesting about the whole experience is that I spend a lot of time trying to encourage dialogue among communities but it always takes quite a lot of confidence to stand up to people who have a more extreme view, or a different view.

“This was quite a nasty group. That group wanted to isolate mainstream majority Muslim community. Then they could be fed misinformation and hatred and a distortion of their faith.

“That is why what the work the youth centre will do is crucial. It brings people of different faiths, and none, together.”

The Catherine Lewis Youth Centre will be opened by the LJCC’s Fusion youth wig next summer, and will run classes in cooking, photography and graffiti.

The building is named after Catherine Lewis, a teacher whose life was cut tragically short when she died from Leukaemia aged just 26.

Her mother, Hannah Lewis, said: “It is very emotional being here today. But anything we can do in her memory is a fitting testament to her.

“She always loved children and she worked in education, and so I think this centre is a great tribute to her. She would have liked it.”

Louise Jacobs, LJCC chief executive, said: “It is momentous when a dream becomes a reality. “Today is about taking a concept and turning it into bricks and mortar.”

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