2018 – Baroness Deech

The annual dinner took place on Thursday 15th March 2018 at St John’s Wood Synagogue Hall, 37-41 Grove End Rd. Baroness Deech was the main speaker.

The dinner was chaired by the London President, Prof Gideon Lack, who introduced the speakers. Over 130 doctors and medical students were present.

The opening blessing was made by Dr Stephen Herman. The loyal toasts were proposed by medical student leaders Jemma Barash and Fabianne Viner. he toast to the Association was proposed by Dr Tammy Rothenberg.

In his response Prof Katz thanked Dr Rothenberg on behalf of the Association not only for her toast but also for her contribution to it’s activities during the past year, in particular in relationship to the immunisation initiative. He introduced the Treasurer, Dr Mervyn Jaswon, who made a presentation to Dr Lionel Balfour – Lynn as a token of acknowledgement of contribution to the Association, in particular in relationship to the student elective scheme.

Prof Katz emphasized the role of the Association as a link communication organization between different aspects of medicine. The immunisation meeting was illustrative – an important aspect of public health in general, a field where there are known Jewish principles relating to preventive medicine, a Jewish local underprivileged population affected, and Jewish doctors taking an initiative to tackle the issue and then working with local authorities to ensure that it is tackled.

Prof Katz noted that cross generational links between trainees and more senior doctors were another important aspect, and it was pleasing to have many trainees present. Similar connectivity and cross-communication between British and Israeli medicine was exemplified by Prof Stephen Brecker’s work in organizing the forthcoming Anglo-Israel Cardiovascular Meeting which will take place in April 2018. He commended the medical student elective reports which were included in the brochure, noting that these included several from Israel, as well as participation in Global Health programmes, where a new UK-Israel scheme in Uganda has been proposed.

In his introduction to the guest speaker Prof Lack paid tribute to Baroness Deech’s contribution, both to wider British society and to the Jewish community.

In her address, which she entitled “Telling it like it is”, Baroness Deech said that she had made a contribution to medicine via the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Authority, including the recognition of stem cell research, but that the wider more general role of defending an open and honest society was itself very important for doctors. Freedom of the press was a critical element, and needed to be used effectively. She noted that her late father had devoted much time to speaking and writing about Zionist affairs, and now she found herself in the situation of having to do the same. It was very disturbing that misinformation about Israel in particular is constantly appearing in the public domain and going unchallenged. She regarded combatting this as a major priority which is not as widely recognized as it should be by colleagues.

Dr Abigail Swerdlow proposed a vote of thanks to Baroness Deech, noting that she was the first woman who had been invited to speak at the dinner since 2009. She said that Baroness Deech had been a role model in many respects. She had illustrated this in her talk with her reflective insights about defending freedom and fair play as a member of the House of Lords, where we are indebted to Baroness Deech for the way that she is resolute in making sure that a balanced voice about Jewish and Israeli issues continues to be heard.

Grace after meals was led by Dr Jonathan Cohen, and was followed by a desert buffet.


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