Otto and Hannah Levy
A Community Couple

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Otto (Jack) Levy 1916 – 1977

Otto and Hannah's wedding

Otto and Hannah’s wedding

Before the Second World War, Martin and Greta Levy were living in Cologne, Germany. Their only son, Otto, left Germany in 1933 to study engineering in Eindhoven, Holland. By the late 1930s Martin and Greta realized that there was no future for Jewish people in Nazi Germany and so they moved to England. In 1938 Otto joined them but two years later he was interned in Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man. He spent nine months in the Camp together with many other German refugees who had come to Britain during the war.

When Otto was released, he set about looking for engineering work. He moved to Leicester to work at the British United Shoe Machinery Ltd. One of the advantages of working for BU was that he was able to take Saturday (Shabbat) off which was not easy in the post-war years. Martin and Greta joined him in Leicester and are now also buried at Jewish Gilroes.

Otto was a hardworking, ‘behind the scenes’ member of the Leicester Jewish Community. He was always ready to help whenever asked and made up a minyan for whoever needed one. He was active in the B’nei Brith Lodge and Friends of the Hebrew University.

Hannah Levy (nee Holzer) 1925 – 2009

Hannah Levy was born in Hamburg and came to England with her two sisters on the kindertransport in December 1938. She was 13 years old and was sent to live with a family in London. She was later reunited with her parents Rabbi and Mrs Paul (Pinchas) Holzer, who managed to leave Germany a few months afterwards.

At the outbreak of the war Hannah was evacuated to a small Bedfordshire village called Shefford. She went with her sisters and the entire London Jewish Secondary School and was billeted with a non-Jewish family in the village. After she finished her schooling at 16, she trained as a tailoress and lived and worked in Epsom with her parents until she married Otto Levy in 1945 and moved to Leicester. They had four daughters and Hannah was a devoted mother.

After Otto died in 1977 Hannah moved to London to be near her children and in 1983 she married Eli Pruim.

Everybody’s Cheder Teacher

Hannah was an active member of WIZO (Women’s Zionist Organisation) and the Friendship Club. However she is mostly remembered as the teacher of the entrance class in the Hebrew Classes (Cheder). She taught generations of young children to read Hebrew and learn about the Jewish Holidays and the basic Jewish prayers. Many of Leicester’s parents and grandparents still remember her with great affection and maintain that they owe their knowledge, interest and love of Judaism to her teaching.