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Jewish Association of Cultural Societies

The Jewish Association of Cultural Societies (JACS) was established in London in 1978, as a weekly forum for the intellectual stimulation of the active retired and semi-retired. In 1988, Cyril Jacobs, having recently moved to Hove, and having being very much involved with the St Johns Wood JACS branch, became the driving force behind the… Read more »

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The Jewish Association of Cultural Societies (JACS) was established in London in 1978, as a weekly forum for the intellectual stimulation of the active retired and semi-retired. In 1988, Cyril Jacobs, having recently moved to Hove, and having being very much involved with the St Johns Wood JACS branch, became the driving force behind the establishment of the Brighton & Hove branch.

The format is a weekly session of talks, quizzes, films and musical presentations, together with visits to places of interest, theatre and exhibitions. In addition, holidays are organised nationally to Bournemouth, Eastbourne and elsewhere. Local meetings have always been held at the AJEX Hall.

The first speaker was to have been Airey Neave, MP for Eastbourne, but he was assassinated shortly before the due date by the IRA. Despite this tragedy, we were fortunate to have Lord Beloff, founder of the University of Buckingham, as our founder speaker. The reception team was swamped with applicants for membership and AJEX Hall was filled to overcapacity.

Thereafter numbers settled down to at least around 60 to 70 a meeting. Amongst the many eminent speakers were Baroness Seear, then Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Lords, and an ardent Zionist, and the Hungarian Ambassador to the Court of St James spoke on the breakup of the Eastern Bloc

Following the resignation of the founder chairman, Cyril Jacobs, Harry Sherwood became chairman for many years and the club continued to thrive. An annual national event was the inter-club Brain of JACS Competition, and in 1992 this was won by Godfrey Gould. Following the sudden death of Harry, further success was achieved by the next chairman, Julian Simon. Unfortunately, as the membership grew older they were not replaced with a younger generation, equivalent to the founding generation of the club. The JACS age profile thus became increasingly older and the numbers regularly attending less and less. After Julian died, Dr Nina Taylor became chair, and when she retired to live in London, Shirley Jaffe became the current chair.

JACS continues to hold meetings with about 20 to 25 regular attenders, but desperately needs an injection of many more relatively younger people to ensure that this significant part of our community continues for many years to come. The old days were recalled with the enthusiastic reception for Maureen Lipman. Would that many of those who came to hear her would come more often to hear the many superb presentations which JACS offers week after week.

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