We are very sorry to have to announce such bad news but Irene Bruegel, founder and long time Secretary of JfJfP died on Monday 6 October. Her immediate family was with her and she died peacefully.
The service for Irene was held on Friday, 10th October Golders’ Green Crematorium. The service was full to overflowing and we heard moving tributes from Irene’s family, colleagues and friends. We were reminded of her hard work, her generosity and her insight. The event was a celebration of Irene’s life and achievements and a demand on all of us to redouble our efforts to match her contribution. No matter how much we do though, there wil still be a large Irene shaped hole left that will be impossible to fill.
Donations, in memory of Irene, to some of the many causes she supported will be most welcome. Those who knew her primarily for her work with Jews for Justice for Palestinians are asked to consider donating to the British Shalom-Salaam Trust which will establish a fund to commemorate her work . But her concerns were universal and in recent years she was also more and more troubled by the treatment of refugees in Britain. We will select two or three suitable charities and details will be posted in the next day or two.
posted 10 October 2008
Irene had long ago been diagnosed with a degenerative auto-immune liver disease for which the only treatment was a transplant. To be considered for this she needed to have an ovarian cyst removed – an operation from which she never recovered because her liver was already so severely depleted.
Irene’s energy, commitment and creativity and that of her partner Richard Kuper, were central to the establishment and spectacular growth of JfJfP. She returned from a trip to the West Bank at the end of 2001, determined to do something, and when she was determined, something usually got done. From a meeting of fifteen of Irene and Richard’s friends in a pub near Kings Cross, JfJfP has grown into one of the biggest and most influential Jewish organisations campaigning for the end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the negotiation of a just and peaceful settlement in Israel/Palestine. Irene was brimful of ideas about extending JfJfP’s work. She avoided sloganizing, ever aware of the importance of reaching people who might join in a campaign for justice, if they were only prompted in a constructive way. She was usually the one who picked up the pieces if one of us dropped them.
For several years Irene also chaired JfJfP’s charitable offshoot – the British Shalom Salaam Trust. Her loyalty, determination and tenacity ensured that BSST became a hugely important lifeline for dozens of grassroots education, health, peace and cultural projects on both sides of the Green Line.
In this year, the sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s foundation, Irene had two priorities – that the sixtieth anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba be remembered, and that we celebrate the courage of all those Israelis whose lives are committed to combating the occupation. The ‘Another Israel’ exhibition, which she organized, oversaw, and which continues to be dispatched all over Britain, is a memorial to her imagination and enthusiasm.
Irene was many things – a feminist, an internationalist, a writer and a teacher. Above all, she was an activist, who thought the point of her academic writing and her other work was to effect progressive change. We hope to establish a fund to commemorate her work and will let you know as soon as this has been agreed.
Our thoughts are with Richard and the children, Martin, David, Dan & Jo and the other members of her family.
Messages of condolence should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can post your tribute to, or memory of, Irene’s life and work at
Richard Kuper has said “Once again, on my behalf and on behalf of all the children, can I say how touched we have been by the flood of concern and good wishes in response to the mailings about her illness and death.”
Jews for Justice for Palestinians Executive
Read the Guardian Obituary writen by JFJfP signatories Sue Himmelweit and Simon Mohun