We are excited to announce a series of spotlight events to celebrate our 2024 theme “Pursuing Passions”. These events will focus on our shared interests and special track clubs. The first event will be centered around our love for literature. On Tuesday 6th February, we will host a special evening with author Isabelle Seddon to launch her latest book, “Intrepid Pioneers”.
Isabelle will be in conversation with Nick Viner, co-founder of Circle Square, where she will share her inspiration and passion for writing this book, and reveal some of the astonishing contributions made by British-born Jewish women as campaigners for social justice and in the professions of science, medicine, politics, law, religion, media and journalism in the twentieth century.
In this latest book, Isabelle highlights the achievements of these women, looks at how their Jewish history and background impacted and contributed to their success and exposes the intersections of gender, religion and ethnicity/race in British history. Often battling antisemitism in British society, and gender prejudice within and outside the Jewish world, what they achieved was remarkable. Some of the women you will meet here are well-known in their fields such as BBC presenters Dame Esther Rantzen and Emily Maitlis, pioneering agony aunt Marjorie Proops, politicians Edwina Currie and Shirley Porter, medical doctor and television personality Miriam Stoppard, Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger and the brilliant scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose role in the discovery of DNA was overshadowed for many years. This book also chronicles the lives and careers of those whose names are less familiar, but whose contributions to their fields are no less notable. Among many others, these pages introduce you to Helen Bamber, of Amnesty International, Rose Heilbron, the first woman to sit as a judge in Old Bailey, Rabbi Elizabeth Tikva Sarah, one of the first women and first openly gay rabbis to be ordained in Britain, and Labour politician Margaret Hodge. For the first time, the significant achievements of this widely varied group of women have been gathered in one volume, documenting the struggles they faced and highlighting their considerable influence on British society, culture and politics.
“It is to Isabelle Seddon’s great credit that she marks the contributions of the early pioneers, as well as those
who have done sterling work in more recent years.”
Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger
About Isabelle Seddon
Isabelle was born in Plymouth into a religious family. She and grew up there and in Bournemouth until moving to Birmingham to study mass media communications. After graduating she trained at Capital Radio and then worked as an editor at IPC magazines. At 24, she emigrated to Israel where she lived for 11 years. During that time she freelanced for the Jerusalem Post, the Israel Economist and edited the Israel Museum, Hebrew University and El Al magazines. A keen arts-lover, she ran a gallery for new immigrant artists at the Jerusalem Theatre.
After recovering from a personal tragedy, she realized she wanted to help people overcome their traumas and back in London she trained as a counsellor and drama therapist. She worked for Jewish Care, creating new activities for the elderly and ran reminiscence groups and programmes for those with mental health issues and dementia. She also worked as a counsellor in a GP’s practice.
Her love of history, telling stories and meeting new people led her to train as a City of London, Westminster and blue badge guide. She is passionate about London. She has a doctorate in philosophy, specializing in the Jewish East End of London and wrote a book, East End Jews and Left-Wing Theatre .
Her other passions include walking and travel. Isabelle met her husband in 2001 on a charity trek along the Great Wall of China. They have been fortunate to travel the world together, taking part in intrepid adventures that have included North Korea, Iran, Papua New Guinea as well as travels across Africa and South America.