Robin Spiro obituary: Pioneering Jewish educator who 'never tired'

Robin Spiro with his wife Nitza - with whom he started the Spiro Ark and Spiro Institute charities

Robin Spiro with his wife Nitza - with whom he started the Spiro Ark and Spiro Institute charities - Credit: Spiro family

Robin Spiro was an accountant, a portrait painter, a soldier and a property mogul - but most of all he was a powerful voice for the Jewish community in north London.

Robin, who died in March, set up two charities with his wife Nitza - first the Spiro Institute and then Spiro Ark - which were dedicated to using Jewish history to build community ties. 

Born in Cricklewood in February 1931, Robin first trained as an accountant but went on to serve as an officer in the army and during his service once even made a "regal breakfast" for Prince Phillip. 

Robin Spiro with family at St Christopher's Place in the West End

Robin Spiro with family at St Christopher's Place - a West End location he transformed as an "unconventional" property developer - Credit: Spiro family

He was also a portrait-painter, training at Chelsea School of Art, and the "unconventional" developer responsible for turning St Christopher's Place in the West End into a sought-after shopping location. 

But it was after returning to university to study for a degree in modern Jewish studies that Robin's passion for using Jewish culture and history to bring people together grew. 

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Meeting Nitza while reconnecting with his Jewish roots - his father Solomon had been a warden at St John's Wood synagogue - in Israel, was a turning point in his life.

The Spiro Institute helped launch London's first Jewish film festival, and Robin played a key role in encouraging schools around the country to offer Jewish history courses at schools including Eton and Harrow. 

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Robin died on March 13, aged 90. In a modern twist on sitting shiva - his family invited people to join them via Zoom in the days afterwards.

Nitza told this newspaper: "During the shiva there were such a lot of lovely things shared, especially by our children and grandchildren. 

"He did such an enormous amount."

Among the tributes at the shiva - shared by Nitza - one of his children said Robin had been "a brilliant dad he also guided me in my darkest days", while another added: "He strove for a world where Jews and non-Jews alike could find a place of belonging."

Paying tribute to her husband from their Hampstead home, Nitza added: "He never tired of expanding his vision to more cultural and historical aspects; including music, art, drama, films, and tours of Jewish interest in England and around the world, and so much more, enabling every individual to enter this rich world through their own personal field of interest."

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