CST Blog

CST Annual Dinner 2024

28 February 2024

CST’s main fundraising event of the year, the CST Annual Dinner, took place tonight in central London. Over 1,200 guests attended, including donors, Members of Parliament, police officers, communal partners and other supporters of CST’s work. 

It was a remarkable occasion, and our first major fundraising event since 7 October, when Hamas’ devastating attack on Israel sparked an unprecedented outpouring of anti-Jewish hate across the country. It was humbling and reassuring in equal measure to see so many allies gather together to reinforce their commitment to our mission: protecting our Jewish community and combatting anti-Jewish hate. We welcomed politicians from all the main parties, including Primer Minister Rishi Sunak MP and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP.

CST was also delighted to host pillars of Jewish life in the UK and staunch advocates for the community, such as Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley QPM, Ms Marie van der Zyl OBE and Lord Mann of Holbeck Moor.

Dr Melanie Lee, Headteacher of JCoSS, gave the evening’s opening address. She gave her thanks to CST, with particular appreciation for the support provided in the wake of the Hamas attack on 7 October:

Thank you for always being there, for enabling me to reassure our parents, and for ensuring that our children can continue to learn. You enable us to educate our young people, it is as simple as that.” 

Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington QPM paid tribute to CST Chairman Sir Gerald Ronson CBE for his strength in standing up to anti-Jewish hate over the decades, and for building CST into what it has become today:

 “This position was not reached by accident. This position of fame, or renown, has been achieved by certain people - one man in particular: founder, Chairman, Sir Gerald Ronson…

…There is absolutely no doubt that many lives have been saved by the activity of CST.

CST Deputy Chairman Sir Lloyd Dorfman CVO CBE then introduced keynote speaker Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, thanking him and his government for their support since 7 October:

“First and foremost, I want to thank you, Prime Minister. I want to thank you - and all your ministers - for the immediate and steadfast support you have shown our community since those terrible events on October 7th

 …Our community reeled – in truth I think we’ve all reeled – from the speed and scale of the anti-Jewish hate we’ve seen on our streets and online: a hatred that had obviously been simmering not very far beneath the surface.”

The Prime Minister was effusive in his praise of CST, the courage of our volunteers, and restated his commitment to keeping the Jewish community safe amidst rising levels of antisemitism:

“We will fight this antisemitism with everything that we’ve got…

…Seeing CST volunteers working with the police to keep us safe just as they are doing here today, just as they do every day. They are some of the most brave volunteers in this country, and on behalf of not just the Jewish community, but the whole nation, I want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you.“

He also announced that the Government Grant of £18m would not only be extended for the next financial year, but that a minimum of £18m would be committed every year over the next four years. This funding contributes to the payment of commercial security guards at the hubs of our Jewish community: our schools, synagogues, and communal buildings. This grant is managed by CST, and will guarantee that these centres of Jewish life remain protected across the country over the next four years.

CST Chief Executive Mark Gardner MBE gave his thoughts before the screening of a short film showcasing the immense challenge that has faced the Jewish community in the UK since 7 October, and the importance of the support that CST gives. He spoke about this challenge, its impact on everyday Jewish life, and how CST has collectively risen to it: we have increased and upgraded our security operations, taken on 11 new staff and trained over 400 new volunteers. He reaffirmed CST’s unwavering promise to all Jews in the UK: 

From day one of this war, our ethos and our message to you, has been “Be Jewish”. It is our democratic right to be Jews; and to lead our Jewish way of life. We will never back down on that.”

Sir Gerald concluded the evening, expressing gratitude for the cross-party political support that CST has received in the battle against antisemitism. He made it clear that the responsibility for the continued safety of the Jewish community is shared amongst everyone who wishes to ensure its survival:

People keep asking me if their children or their grandchildren will be safe. The answer is - it’s up to you. You have to share the responsibility by supporting CST. Because if you don’t have security, then you won’t have a community.

 He brought his lifelong fight against anti-Jewish hate to the present context:

The biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust: that was the biggest turn on for the antisemites. They are bullies. They are cowards. They prey on the weak. That is why you have to stand up to them.

The speech ended with an impassioned appeal for the initiative and donations necessary for CST’s vital work to continue: 

 The first duty of leadership is protecting your people. I have always taken that responsibility and that is what I ask from all of you here tonight… 

…Together we will keep protecting our Jewish community. Please dig deep and do what is needed.

CST wishes to give its sincerest thanks to everyone who came to the Annual Dinner. It was inspiring and truly meaningful to unite in solidarity with so many people who are taking a stand against those who wish to do our community harm. It is only together, with your help, that we can continue to facilitate Jewish life in the UK. 

Donate to CST. For assistance, please call CST Fundraising on 020 8457 3700, or email [email protected].

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