A MESSAGE from Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney:
This week we received the devastating news that Rabbi Avrahom Pinter – a leading figure in Stamford Hill and former Hackney councillor – has passed away, after contracting coronavirus.
Rabbi Pinter was known to many across the borough as a kind and compassionate man, who worked tirelessly to support the Charedi community, as well as the wider Hackney community. He was an incredibly active public servant; a former Labour councillor, he remained very involved in Council-life, playing a role in our faith network and Children and Young People Scrutiny Commission.
He was also very proud to be principal of Yesodey Hatorah School, which both he and his late wife Rachel worked so tirelessly to develop for the young people in their community.
Tributes have been pouring in from national politicians and leaders in the Jewish community, showing the important role he also played in national life. But his first priority was always Stamford Hill and the community there. Most recently, we had been working closely with Rabbi Pinter to reinforce local public health messages during Passover, and it is no exaggeration to say that his dedication to shaping and sharing these vital messages will have saved countless lives.
Rabbi Pinter was one of a kind; larger than life, an experienced man who often used his sharp wit and humour to illustrate his points and disarm those he sought to influence. He went out of his way to make our borough a better place to live and to build and better our understanding of each other, especially through his commitment to interfaith work. I will miss him, as will the Council and the borough.
My thoughts are with his family, friends and many colleagues today. Very few of us will be able to directly say goodbye, but to paraphrase the Jewish traditional message on someone’s passing – may his friendship, memory and lasting legacy be a blessing.
You may find it interesting to read an interview from our Museum archives, which Rabbi Pinter gave as part of a Hackney Museum project exploring the Jewish History of Stamford Hill in the 1930s-1950s – it really gives a sense of his pride in his community.
This loss sits alongside the dreadful news that over 12,000 lives have now been recorded lost in this country due to this awful virus. Rabbi Pinter’s passing is an all too real reminder of how serious and indiscriminate coronavirus is. This isn’t something that happens to other people; it’s affecting Hackney families and communities on a daily basis. Tragically, Rabbi Pinter is just one of many local people we have lost too soon.
Some of them were also community leaders or dedicated public servants, others less well known, but in death all of them leave behind family and friends who will be grieving in extremely difficult circumstances. Our thoughts are with them all.
While, inevitably, details have not been made public about all of those who have passed, I would like to pay tribute to some of them, including Homerton Hospital Consultant Urologist Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a dedicated NHS worker who died aged just 53; bus driver Nadir Nur, a familiar face to those who took the 394, who died at 48; and Thomas Harvey, a nurse who lived in Clapton, who devoted 20 years of his life to the NHS, and died at 57.
We have also, sadly, learned of the deaths of several Windrush elders who took part in our celebrations over the last couple of years; of a stalwart of the business community in Stoke Newington; a Kurdish community leader and a mosque elder.
Every person lost means something to someone, and the pain we feel is exacerbated by the lack of being able to come together as a family or community to comfort and grieve in the normal way, and I hear the real growing anger around concerns about access to PPE, inequity in the care system and questions about whether the NHS has the resources it needs.
As we try to come to terms with these losses and the impact of the virus on our lives, I’m still touched to hear of the acts of kindness taking place all the time across Hackney; from the neighbours doing shopping for each other, to phone calls to check in on those self isolating alone, the redeployed council officers delivering food, the huge volunteering effort, and donations made to Hackney Giving. These acts bring comfort during these difficult times.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help during this time, you can contact us on 020 8356 3111 or visit hackney.gov.uk/coronavirus-support
Lea Bridge Cllr Ian Rathbone, Hackney’s first Fairtrade Champion, said: “Rabbi Pinter was key in helping us to achieve Fairtrade borough status in 2008 by signing a faith declaration on behalf of the Jewish community. He was a man ahead of his time, and a personal friend for 30 years whom I will be missing greatly”
A spokesperson for Hackney Ecumenical Borough Deans said:
Rabbi Avrohom Pinter was always willing to enter into faith dialogue with Christians and was a prophetic man ahead of his time in the way he built bridges and relationships with both Christians and Muslims in Hackney over many decades. He helped us to see that God is much bigger than we like to think, and also that being a person of faith meant very much being a person of political action.
A spokesperson for Hackney Faiths Network said:
Faiths working together has never been more important today in terms of social cohesion but also in terms of peace in the community and Rabbi Pinter has been a significant key in that process over the last 40 years and has helped build the foundations of today’s multi-faith work in Hackney and in London. He has shown faith can have real political action and always been supportive of the work of Hackney, informing it in a way which has led to a unity of purpose throughout the borough, and the tackling of hate and prejudice wherever it may unfortunately be found.
A spokesperson for Hackney Muslims said:
The passing of Rabbi Pinter will be felt widely through the community. So many times the first to reach out,bonding and strengthening our wonderfully diverse community here in Cazenove/S.Hill/Hackney & beyond. Love & thoughts with his fam. Gonna miss ya heaps Rabbi P #Legend