- c 1975-2008 (Creation)
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0.12 cubic metres
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The Anglo Israel Friendship Society, York, was founded c.1975. Its aims were to promote knowledge and understanding of Israel and encourage dialogue between Christians and Jews. At its foundation it had the support and patronage of the then Archbishop of York, Dr Stuart Blanch. Later patrons also included the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds.
Funded in part by an annual membership fee set at £1 in 1977 and £8 in 1997, the Society held a regular programme of events which it advertised in a newsletter to its members, as well as a magazine published six times a year between 1979 and 1981. Events included lectures and educational visits, discussions and debates concerning contemporary political issues, and dinners and social evenings that showcased Israeli culture. The Society also arranged for speakers to visit organisations in the York, examples include the Mothers’ Union and the York Young Conservatives Association.
A key feature of the Society’s programme was an annual competition offering a local resident between the ages of 17 and 26 the opportunity to travel to Israel for a working holiday. Initially this was an essay writing competition but later it was expanded to include young musicians. A travel fund was in place as early as 1976 and winners were able to spend up to a month travelling through the country, spending time in a kibbutz and on a ‘home’ visit with an Israeli family. In 1981 the York Anglo Israel Educational Trust was set up by the Society to administer this annual competition and in 1984 the prize was renamed the Benny Brent Scholarship in honour of the Society’s founding secretary who had recently died.
In 1985 a dinner was held to mark the Society’s tenth anniversary, attended by Rabbi Hugo Gryn. In 1988 the Anglo-Israel Friendship Societies of York, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull jointly hosted Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Yehuda Avner, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the foundation of Israel, and in 1990 the Society took part in the commemoration of the massacre of York Jews at Clifford’s Tower. The Society also organised a group trip to Israel for its members in 1992.
By 2008 membership of the Society had declined significantly and the decision was taken to disband the group and dissolve the associated York Anglo Israel Educational Trust. The Society’s remaining funds were donated to charities that shared its aims to nurture educational links between York and Israel and members were requested to submit any records they held that related to the Society to be gifted to the Borthwick Institute.
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