University of Leicester remembers campaigner for interfaith understanding

Posted by ap507 at Oct 28, 2015 11:56 AM |
Series of memorial events from 2 November pays tribute to Holocaust educator

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 October 2015

One family’s efforts to highlight the horrors of the holocaust will be honoured at a series of events at the University of Leicester that remember Leicester campaigner Sara Elkes.

Sara Elkes, who died on 8 September 2015, will have been known to many people in Leicester for her work with the Elkhanan Association for Inter-Community Understanding. Her Inter-Faith Work Camps in Leicester attracted wide attention among Jewish and non-Jewish groups alike. 

The University of Leicester’s Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is organising two lectures in her memory.

The Lecture in Honour of Sara Elkes on Tuesday 5 November is entitled ‘Dance on the Razor’s Edge: Criminality and Law in the Ghettos during the Holocaust’ and will take place at 6.30pm in Ken Edwards Building Lecture Theatre 3. It will discuss an important aspect of the work of the Jewish communities in the Eastern European ghettos under the direct control of the German SS.  It will be delivered by Dr Svenja Bethke, a newly appointed member of the Department of History at the University of Leicester.

On 10 November, Emeritus Professor Aubrey Newman will deliver a lecture in memory of Sara Elkes, also in Ken Edwards Building Lecture Theatre 3, at 7.30pm on the subject of ‘The Elkes Family’ and more specifically honouring her father Elkhanan and mother Miriam Elkes as well as her brother Joel.

Professor Newman, Honorary Associate Director of the Stanley Burton Centre, said: “Sara was the daughter of Dr Elkhanan Elkes, an internationally known physician in Kovno, Lithuania, who was called upon to act as the head of the Jewish Ghetto of Kovno in its most grievous years until his death in Dachau.  His wife, Miriam, worked with him and sustained him in these years; she survived the war and went to live in Israel.

“Sara’s brother, Joel, now nearly 102, like Sara had been sent to England before the war, has had an outstanding career in Psychiatry, culminating in his being named by The John Hopkins University at Baltimore as Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and by the University of Louisville as Distinguished University Professor Emeritus.

“Both Sara and Joel have spent a great deal of time and energy in bringing the story of their father’s struggles in the service of the Jewish community of Kovno to a wider audience, and they chose the Stanley Burton Centre as the host of a series of lectures named in honour of their parents, and dealing with various aspects of the Holocaust, especially in Eastern Europe.”

  • Sara was buried in Israel, near to her mother, and so her friends and connections have not had an opportunity to pay tribute to her memory. At an evening service in the Leicester Synagogue, Highfield Street, at 8.00pm on 2 November (which would have been her 91st birthday) there will be an opportunity to eulogise her career and say prayers in her memory.  Attendance at the service is open to all who knew her; men who wish to attend are requested to cover their heads in the synagogue. 


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Professor Aubrey Newman on email

Share this page: