By James Marlow
The community reacted with huge sadness after family members announced Brian Kerner died last Thursday night aged 84.
Brian was the founding Chairman of both BICOM and the UJIA – two of Britain’s leading influential organisations over the last two decades which maintain constant engagement with Israel.
He was a member of the Board of Governors for the Jewish Agency in Israel, member of the Executive Board of the United Jewish Appeal (Keren Hayesod), Chairman of the Fair Play Campaign Group (FPCG) and Co-Chairman of the Cross Community Co-ordinating Group.
In addition, he worked very closely with the Zionist Federation, the Board of Deputies and a long list of many other groups and organisations.
Brian was a pharmacist by profession but developed a philanthropist attitude in the late fifties with his own chemist called Underwoods.
The name became well known in the seventies as he acquired a chain of Underwoods chemists across the country before selling out in 1983 after 24 years in the industry.
Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum who worked with Brian on the executive board at the UJIA said, “Brian had the ability to cooperate, collaborate and bring people together with a unique skill and charm.”
Brian spoke fluent French and spent a great deal of time with his wife Sylvia in the South of France, but he remained passionate about Israel and its security and sometimes travelled to the Jewish state more than 7 or 8 times a year.
On Brian’s Facebook page, his oldest son Stefan wrote “On behalf of myself, Jeremy Kerner, Vanessa Kerner and our mother Sylvia, I want to thank everybody for the kind messages in memory of our father and husband, Brian Kerner, who passed away last week.
The outpouring of love for Dad has been amazing and helped us so much. We are so proud of everything he achieved in life and the manner in which he conducted himself. He will be sorely missed. I am sorry that I am not responding to people individually, but please believe that we have read and re-read every single message over and over and are so grateful. Thank you.”