90 year old ex-Kindertransport architect plans charity Skydive

15 Aug 2019

Eli Abt, a recently retired Chartered architect and planning consultant, is due to undertake a 13,000 foot Tandem skydive with an instructor on Sunday 25 August.

He will be celebrating 60 years of married bliss to Muriel, 80 years since his life was saved from the Nazis by the Kindertransport, 90 years since his birth in Berlin, and 50 years since he founded his consultancy.

To mark these milestones in his life his object is to raise £6895 for Jewish Care, the UK’s largest social care charity for the Jewish Community in London and the South-East. It touches the lives of 10,000 people each week, providing a wide range of services for people in need of help on the grounds of age, disability, mental health and visual impairment, including Holocaust survivors and refugees.

Eli writes:

“It’s right to celebrate our many blessings by supporting this wonderful organisation at a time of political and economic instability for this country, a place to which I shall always be indebted for rescuing me to start a fresh life in South Africa.

I’ve wanted to do a skydive for many years and am thankfully still fit enough for it. I skied until four years ago and Muriel and I are great walkers.”

Eli was parted from his parents at age 9 on a station platform in Berlin in May 1939 to join a Kindertransport but was miraculously reunited with his family on the day war broke out in Europe in September.

Having set sail for South Africa but been refused entry there, they were forced to stay on, travelling from port to port for the next fortnight until a happy turn of events finally enabled them to land in Cape Town.

Eli has not told his story until now because he did not want it to define the rest of his life.

Awarded his Architecture degree in Johannesburg, Eli came to London in 1955 where, apart from his professional work, he became well known for his singing. (“Architect draws the crowds” punned a Jewish Chronicle headline in 1966).

Having married Muriel in Jerusalem in 1959, he set up his design and planning practice ten years later. They have two sons and five grandchildren.

Eli’s Skydive campaign was launched on the crowdfunding site JustGiving on Friday 2 August and is already over the £3450 half way mark with both online and direct donations. He writes:

“This is a wonderful response. My target figure of £6895 not only reflects our four anniversaries, but the sum of 6+8+5+9, being 28, yields the Hebrew words “Koach”, vitality, and “Yedid”, someone to cherish and be cherished by. They’re both blessings we all wish for. Let’s make them possible for people less fortunate than ourselves.”

Director of Fundraising and Community Engagement Adam Overlander-Kaye said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Eli has decided to do a Skydive to raise funds for Jewish Care to help us support older people in our care homes and community centres, as well as those living in the Jewish community with their families and carers who rely on our services.”

“Doing a Skydive at any age is impressive, but at age 90 Eli shows us that we have much to learn from older members of our community. We hope he has a fantastic day for his adventure”.

To donate to Eli’s fundraising page please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/eli-abt-jewishcare